The goodness of Birmingham was on full display at Hands On Birmingham’s IGNITE Awards

Winners of Hands on Birmingham’s 3rd Annual IGNITE Awards. Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama

Hands On Birmingham Director Benga Harrison describes the IGNITE Awards, our community’s premier annual volunteer awards celebration, as the one day we take to – “celebrate and honor the goodness of Birmingham.”

Indeed, it is.

Bham Now was on hand, April 10th, to capture the remarkable event which was held in front of a filled to capacity banquet hall at The Club.


Mayor Woodfin Emphasized Servant Leadership

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin opened up the event with a passionate call for servant leadership.

“Today, I think it is fitting that we celebrate leaders, servant leaders, people who have led their lives to incite action and accelerate change. And if you look at today’s honorees there is no age cutoff, race or gender restrictions. But what they all have in common is a heart. A heart for our community. An unbeatable spirit for the betterment of our city and the will to not wait for change to happen.” ~ Mayor Randall Woodfin

Here is a video of his opening remarks.

During the brunch, one by one, community leaders honored the 2019 nominees and winners of  IGNITE Awards.


Oldest to the youngest nominee. Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama

Here is the list of the 3rd Annual IGNITE winners:

Community– Jacob Epperson International Union of Operating Engineers Local Union 312
Corporate– Thomasine Jackson- Drummond Company
Faith Based– Marcella Roberts- SWIM (Sisters Winning in Marriage)
Hands on Birmingham– Alex Lawley- America’s First Federal Credit Union

IGNITE Awards designed by local glass artist Amy Soverow. Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama

Government– Amy Badham- UAB
Nonprofit– Bob Boylan- United Way
Small Business– Kelli Caulfield- Caulfield Investment Holdings,LLC
Student– Christian Huddle- he was nominated by STAIR Birmingham but currently attends Texas Christian University


Ellyn Grady Nonprofit Award

Near the end end of the award ceremony, Katrina Watson, President & Executive Director of the Literacy Council of Central Alabama gave a special tribute to retiring United Way of Central Alabama Senior Vice President  Ellyn Grady. An inspirational leader in Birmingham’s nonprofit community for several decades, the IGNITE Nonprofit Volunteer of the Year Award has been named in her honor.

Here is the video of Watson’s tribute and Grady’s response.

Goodness of Birmingham

At the conclusion of the celebration, Hands On Birmingham’s Harrison asked the audience to look around the room.


“You are the goodness of Birmingham.” she said.

“We can’t thank you enough for what you do.”

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.