Cassidy’s turnaround story and 3 easy ways you can get involved with United Way of Central Alabama

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Members of the Arc of Central Alabama do a team cheer in fitness class with Cassidy, one of the volunteers with United Way of Central Alabama. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama

You’ve heard of United Way of Central Alabama.  Your employer might have a giving option through payroll deduction.  Your neighbor might volunteer at one of the 80 agencies and initiatives United Way supports in Central Alabama.  But do you really know what United Way of Central Alabama does and how you can get involved? Don’t worry, we’re here to let you know that there’s an opportunity that matches your interests and your ability to give.

Cassidy prepares for a fun fitness class with his group at the Arc of Central Alabama. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama

In Cassidy’s Shoes

Meet Cassidy, a United Way volunteer who works at The Arc of Central Alabama. Volunteering and working with community members with intellectual disabilities didn’t always come easily to Cassidy. However, once he started volunteering through United Way, he changed his tune. He teaches a weekly fitness class for The Arc and has noticed a huge shift in the way the members interact with each other. Here’s how Cassidy describes it:

“I’ve seen the change in a lot of the participants. I’ve seen participants who don’t really socialize well with others, they reach out, they’re having a good time, they’re part of a team.”

Cassidy has formed friendships while volunteering at the United Way of Central Alabama. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama

And it’s not only the participants that have gone through a noticeable change. Cassidy himself has found that he can better understand how some everyday tasks, like grocery shopping, are not so simple for the community members with intellectual disabilities. It is clear that through volunteering with United Way and with The Arc, he has become more empathetic to people with disabilities. Cassidy can also count them as some of his friends. He notes that when he walks in to The Arc, the fitness class participants get really excited to see him.

“It’s an awesome feeling. It just makes my day.”

Let’s Look At The Numbers

Here’s how United Way of Central Alabama impacts our neighbors every year:

  1. 182,933 individuals accessed healthy food/nutrition
  2. 80,854 individuals were served through healthcare services
  3. 103,186 children participated in community-based programs
  4. 5,684 of our youth received job-skills training

These numbers are due in large part to United Way volunteers and donors. Cassidy is just one example of how each part of the community works in its own specific and meaningful way to improve the lives and well-being of the community as a whole.  

To be clear, even a donation that feels small to you — i.e. the price of a sandwich, a cup of coffee, the cost of going to see one movie per month — can impact the lives of the volunteers and the community. No donation is too small.

No act of help is ever too small. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama

3 Easy Ways You Can Help Today

All it takes is one small action. Interested in volunteering or donating?

Visit United Way of Central Alabama’s website for a full list of volunteer opportunities.

1) Donations, An easy act of one-time giving: make a contribution to the 2018 United Way Campaign. United Way has made it simple to donate. You can donate via mail, PayPal and over the phone. It is important to view your donation as an investment. Note that any money you donate to United Way of Central Alabama will be an investment into the organization and everything it stands for. If it is helpful for you, research a few of the specific programs at United Way of Central Alabama. Finding a specific cause to invest in will make the donation more meaningful for you.  

2) Easy Volunteering: Take an afternoon to deliver food for Meals on Wheels, and you will see the impact that just one afternoon has. Or, help pick up trash in a neighborhood. Anything helps. Hands On Birmingham is a program that allows anyone and everyone ample opportunities to volunteer as much or as little time as they can. This is an ideal pick for you if you are busy, but still want to give back to the community any way you can. Just last year, over 6,700 volunteers donated over 23,000 hours of hands-on service to the community.

3) Full-time Volunteering: There are ample opportunities. For example, Women United may be for you. This program aims to educate and motivate women to affect positive change through philanthropy, leadership, and volunteerism. But be careful, once you see the difference you can make in the lives of others, you may not want to stop. Even the smallest act can spur on a lifetime of giving.

These acts of giving are just a link in a long chain of acts of service that benefit our great community in Birmingham through United Way of Central Alabama. Stamp your mark on the Birmingham volunteer scene and add your own link to the chain with a donation today.

Sponsored by:

United Way of Central Alabama

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Lauren Bedford
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