United Way launches ‘Because of You Hope Happens’ annual campaign

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Because of you – Hope Happens. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Ok Birmingham, it’s time to take off your jacket, put on your suspenders and roll up your sleeves.  

On September 10th, United Way of Central Alabama leaders from Blount, St. Clair, Walker, Shelby, and Jefferson counties joined legendary ABC 33/40 weatherman James Spann in kicking off the 2020 Annual Campaign.

This year’s campaign theme is: ‘Because of You Hope Happens.”  

Learn all about the campaign and how you can get involved – HERE.

Hope Happens Network

33/40 ABC James Spann. Screenshot from the United way of Central Alabama Facebook page

Instead of the annual traditional campaign kickoff, which draws hundreds of volunteers to a luncheon, this year, the United Way opted to do a virtual kickoff imitating a TV news format called the Hope Happens Network that captured over 450 social media participants.  

United Way 2020 Campaign Chair Greg King. Screenshot from the United way of Central Alabama Facebook page

The program’s lead anchor was Greg King, the 2020 United Way Campaign Chair. James Spann, ABC 33/40, was the classic lighthearted connecting anchor using his knowledge of people and places in Central Alabama to connect the guests.

County Campaign Chairs Roll Call

Spann introduced four United Way  county campaign chairs during the program. 

Each emphasized the United Way’s work in their county.

  • Walker County Chair Tom Ferrell spoke about several local non-profits United Way supports, including ARC of Walker County, Beacon House, Black Warrior Boy Scout Council, Salvation Army, and more.  

“United Way offers those who serve through these agencies and programs a lifeline and provides hope for those who need it most,” said Ferrell.

  • Blount County Chair Barbara Andersen reported from in front of historic Horton Mill Bridge. 

“Now more than ever, individuals and families here in Blount County need our support. Our local agencies and partners like the Blount County Children’s Center, Aid to Homeless Children, and many more who rely on the successful United Way campaign are working every day to bridge the gap from crisis to stability.”

  • St. Clair County Chair Zachary Gentile talked about the Christian Love Pantry, a partner agency that delivers food for people in need in St. Clair County and the 13 other partner agencies’ programs that depend on United Way contributions.

“James, you always say check in on your neighbor. A United Way donation will make sure our neighbors in need truly are ok,” Gentile told Spann.

  • Shelby County Chair Martina Winston reminded Shelby County United Way volunteers and supporters that there are up to 20 partner agencies in the county depending on a successful campaign.

“It’s raining hope right here in Shelby County.  I think of the United Way as the umbrella with our agencies underneath, helping provide a safety net for individuals and families while weathering their own personal storms. Maybe you have been helped by the United Way, a partner, or a program.”

You can connect with these county chairs and support the United Way in your community by visiting the United Way Campaign Center.

Pacesetter Campaign Announcement 

Pacesetter Chair Joe Hampton. Screenshot from the United way of Central Alabama Facebook page

Following the county-by-county reports, Pacesetter Campaign Chair Joe Hampton announced the total for this year’s pacesetter campaign, preceding the larger United Way fall fundraising campaign.

Hampton, President of Spire, reported support from 20 pacesetter companies, totaling $7,396.397.

Altec, Inc, PRADCO Outdoor Brands, AmFirst, Renasant Bank, Auto Tec, Robins & Morton, Barze Taylor Noles Lowther, LLC, ServisFirst Bank, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, Sirote &  Permutt, PC, CenterState Bank, Specification Rubber Products, Cory Watson Attorneys, The Collateral Family of Companies, Ernst and Young, LLP, Timberline Management Company, First US Bank, United Way of Central Alabama, Jemison Metals, Warren Averett, LLC, McWane, Inc.

Live United 

33/40 ABC James Spann. Screenshot from the United way of Central Alabama Facebook page

Nearing the end of the program, Spann wrapped up his part of the show, donning a Live United t-shirt. He made the following remarks.

“We are really here to help other people. That is when life gets good when you realize that. When I was young, I was pretty self-centered, but I’ve learned to be blessed when I get older—you have to bless others. And the greatest way to do that is to be involved in the campaign and with what the United Way is doing.”

Needs Are Unparalleled 

United Way of Central Alabama CEO Drew Langloh. Screenshot from the September 10, 2020 Kickoff video.

United Way of Central Alabama’s CEO, Drew Langloh, concluded the virtual broadcast by asking for community support during these unparalleled times.

“I hope that this gave a little bit of levity in your day at a time when things are pretty serious. Folks by the thousands are turning to the United Way and our partners looking for help. The good news is, we know what to do. We’ve been down these roads before. We’ve been there with crises in the past, and we need you. If you have thought about giving before and haven’t been a donor, this is the year that nobody can be on the fence. The needs are unparalleled in any given year. The good news is, the United Way knows what to do, how to do it, and who to help. We just need you in the game with us,” said Langloh.

Want to make a difference? Contact the United Way of Central Alabama today through the Campaign Center.  

Now more than ever, we need the United Way. Join the Fall Campaign today!

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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.