United Way: Giving back is a family legacy

Birmingham
Partner Content
Birmingham Alabama
John and Rosemary Turner – photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama

Rosemary Turner graduated from the University of Alabama and was hired by Brasfield & Gorrie as a risk analyst with an August start date.

It was her first job right out of college.

In July, before Rosemary started work, her manager at Brasfield & Gorrie asked her if she would be a United Way Loaned Executive.

Surprised at the request, Turner responded, “I don’t know what that is, but sign me up!”

Afterwards, Rosemary called her father, John Turner, Senior Executive Vice President and the Head of Corporate Banking Group at Regions and longtime United Way supporter. This is how she described the phone call.

“I called my dad up to ask him about it (United Way Loan Executive Program) and he starts laughing. So I said why are you laughing? He then told me he was a loaned executive during the first months of his first job back in 1983. Our lives have paralleled!”

Two paths separated by 34 years

John Turner’s experience becoming a Loaned Executive for United Way was virtually identical to his daughter.

“I was right out of college and had accepted a position at Trust Company Bank out of Savannah. Georgia. I had been there a few weeks, and they said we are assigning you to the United Way to work as a loaned executive for the next 90 days. So our paths were exceptionally similar, I had not been at work very long before they sent me to work for United Way,” said Turner.

Those three months changed John Turner’s life.

“As a United Way volunteer and business person, the Loaned Executive program helps volunteers accomplish their objectives. From the standpoint of the individual loaned executive, it really is a developmental opportunity. You develop a real sense of the community. My lifelong volunteering in the United Way began when I was 21 years old – I was won over. I was converted. So, as a result, I have been actively involved in the community for all of my career. My children have observed that and hopefully, as a result, they want to be engaged as well.”

Turner, who has chaired United Way of Central Alabama’s Tocqueville Society and Pacesetter campaign divisions added:

“When Rosemary got the opportunity, I was not only amused by the fact our paths were so similar, but I encouraged her because of the benefits that I had experienced 34 years ago.”

United Way
The 2017 Loaned Executives and UWCA staff pose for a picture at the luncheon’s close. – Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama

Unique to United Way, locally 40 executives from every corner of the region participate in the Loaned Executive program. Not all participants are from corporations. They come from all walks of life. Some are from non-profits and local government. In this year’s class, they even have a patrol woman who issues parking tickets.

“Most companies know that when their employees are engaged with civic and volunteer activities they will keep them longer and feel better about their company’s activities. You get a better employee,” stated Samuetta Nesbitt, Senior Vice President Public Relations, United Way of Central Alabama.

Connections – making a difference

“I’ve met so many people, made so many connections. It’s been an incredible experience. I’ve learned public speaking. Haven’t fainted yet!” Rosemary Turner said with a smile.

“It’s been awesome. Every time I come back from presentations it’s a running joke – She didn’t faint. I’ve seen the agencies firsthand making a tremendous difference in the community. I’ve been working with the Literacy Council, teaching people to read, learn English, the work they are doing is amazing.”

Working together

United Way has become a family affair for the Turners. Recently, they even gave a United Way presentation together.

“We ask 3 things when giving a presentation,” stated Rosemary. “Donate monetarily. If you can’t do that volunteer. And, if you can’t do that advocate for United Way services.”

As Loaned Executives for United Way – as father and daughter, John and Rosemary Turner are fighting to create solutions for the area’s greatest needs, their passion is to “Live United.”

From our Partner

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.