On June 13, 2017, the Birmingham City Council voted to approve the Greater Birmingham Humane Society’s plan for a 27-acre park. The property is located in Titusville, west of I-65 and adjacent to Memorial Park and the Golden Flake plant. Allison Black Cornelius, CEO of the GBHS, plans to utilize this property as a source of economic growth in the city of Birmingham.
Currently, the GBHS has separate locations for each line of business: Animal Care & Control (Woodlawn), Alabama Shelter Veterinarians (Hoover), and the Adoption and Education Center (Snow Drive). The new property will house collectively the adoption center, veterinarian clinic, and animal control, as well as a K-9 unit and training field.
Notably, the property will co-locate all GBHS services to cut costs and increase efficiency of business. After all, the GBHS facilities are having difficultly keeping up with current demand. The Greater Birmingham Humane Society services more than 21,000 animals per year.
Furthermore, the property will serve as a public space for the people of Birmingham. There are plans to open dog and cat cafés, as well as a connection to the city’s Rotary Trail. Plus, with walking trails, a splash pad, amphitheater, and outdoor pavilion, the park is pedestrian, animal, bike, and jog friendly.
a community catalyst
Who is the leader rallying this entire movement? Meet Allison Black Cornelius, a CEO who leads with tenacity and an incredible effort to carry out the Greater Birmingham Humane Society’s mission.
In fact, one of the many reasons she loves the property involves its close proximity to where Dr. Martin Luther King wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
Truly, Dr. King’s words represent Allison Black Cornelius’s drive to positively impact the community of Titusville.
“So Martin Luther King writes this letter there. And he really is talking about how we all have to pull together, and how if one does, all do. Yet, you look around at parts of Titusville and its community and this land is progressing, but it could progress more. We bring the density to that land that would attract businesses.”
In hopes to get the community on board, Allison Black Cornelius actively pursues opposers to the plans.
“It is a small group that is opposed. What I struggle to get them to understand is that we are the catalyst- we aren’t a pound.
If we have one to two thousand middle to upper income individuals coming through this shelter every month, now going there every single month, then you’ve got one to two thousand people walking through Titusville that probably haven’t been to Titusville in years!
So, you’re going to see businesses start coming in to sell to those people.”
Why a not-for-profit?
As a former international business consultant, Allison Black Cornelius believes bringing a not-for-profit instead of a for-profit business to that space would create sustainable value.
“I think retail is far more risky than having a not-for-profit that attracts the diverse kind of people we attract. We are a bastion for compassion- a symbol of hope.
It has jobs for people in that area. We employ 60 to 80 full-time employees. We provide scholarships for our employees to get licensed vet tech certifications.
So, right there in their community, they would have a place for their children to learn, or for their teams to volunteer. We plan to put a community room there, a place they can use. A place where they can go that is safe and beautiful and could transform that entire area.”
the gbhs mission
The Greater Birmingham Humane Society exists to promote the humane treatment of people and animals through education, advocacy, and services.
“To me, I have the responsibility of going out in the community and building this facility , because I can never think of a time that we lived that needed niceness more.
These critters run around and teach us how to treat each other. We think the people are saving the animals, but 90% of the people I see walking through here, that isn’t the case. The animals are saving them.”
With the property, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society has moved into the due diligence period.
Also, if you’re looking to adopt an animal through GBHS, check out Bham Now’s Adorable and Adoptable Pet of the Week!