United Way Supports Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Community of Reading Program and young superhero

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Meet Ethan Hill and his parents David and Ebony Hill. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Birmingham, let me introduce you to a 9-year-old reader, superhero and budding philanthropist. His name is Ethan Hill.

This past weekend, I met Ethan and his family at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Community of Readers program that was held in conjunction with the United Way of Central Alabama. He had been chosen to read the book Superheroes Like Me by Kimberly Brown Pellum for Black History Month.

United Way Young Philanthropist Ethan Hill reading Superheroes Like Me.. Photo courtesy of United Way
In photo: United Way’s Samuetta Nesbitt, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Charles Woods, III and his daughter

A Passion to help others

A caring fourth-grader, Ethan is kindhearted, and a champion for justice.

According to his mother Ebony, about three years ago, Ethan met a homeless man. He wanted to help, so he bought food, a tarp and things to support the gentleman during a difficult time.

After he helped one person, Ethan started raising money and began giving away care packages to the homeless and families in need throughout Birmingham.

“It started with one person,” said Ebony. “Then it turned into 25 people. This year, we’ve given away up to 200 care packages to homeless people and families in need!”

United Way of Central Alabama approached Ethan’s mother about speaking to children his age about giving back to their communities.

Gathering of the Community of Readers at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on February 22, 2020. Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama

“We found out about Ethan and his platform and immediately identified him as a future philanthropist,” said United Way’s Samuetta Nesbitt, Sr. VP Public Relations.

“We wanted him to tell other children his age that you don’t have to be an adult. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to be anything but yourself and find a cause you like, to help other people. Because United Way is in the business of helping people in need, we want Ethan to inspire young people to do whatever they can, no matter how small. We want more Ethans.”

Charles Woods, III, with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute added:

“He has become a little superhero, helping people in need, which is what a superhero does.”

Gathering of the Community of Readers at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on February 22, 2020. Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama

He is my hero

When asked what he wants to do when he grows up, Ethan told me he wants to run a non-profit business that helps people.

He’s well on his way.

And his biggest backers are his loving family. Ethan’s dad, David Hill summed up his feelings best.

“I’m proud of him. He is my hero.”

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  • 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.