United Way launches “Give Hope Change Lives” annual campaign

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United Way
Coach Sam Green, Eunice Elliott and Doug Coltharp at the UWCA kickoff. Photo via Tira Davis for Bham Now

This week, United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) launched the “Give Hope Change Lives’ 2021 Annual Campaign.

Hosted by children’s book author and stand-up comedian Eunice Elliott, the virtual event featured presentations by Doug Coltharp, this year’s Campaign Chair, and Coach Sam Green, a volunteer leader with the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club and United Way Bold Goals Campaign. The kickoff was live streamed to groups in Shelby, Walker, St. Clair counties.

Keep reading to see how this campaign will make an impact on Central Alabama.

United Way Hybrid Campaign

One of the biggest challenges the United Way faced during last year’s 2020 campaign was switching from face- to-face meetings to all virtual. In 2021, they will do both.

“Fundraising is inherently a personal connection,” Drew Langloh, United Way of Central Alabama’s President and CEO told Bham Now. “It’s about telling a story, telling a narrative of how a donor can help someone else be successful in life or overcome an obstacle in life. And that typically has to happen in a face-to-face kind of setting. Two years ago, we did about 3,000 employee meetings and zero of them were virtual. Last year, we did about 4,500 employee meetings and almost all of them were virtual. This year, it looks like it is going to be more of a hybrid setting. While the tools have changed, the message stays the same—which is you can help others with your gift.”

This month’s UWCA launch already had to change from in-person to virtual because of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Alabama. 

But they successfully did it.

WATCH the full Facebook Live presentation.

Pacesetter Announcement

United Way
Chris Harmon makes opening remarks at the 2021 Pacesetter Campaign kickoff. Photo via United Way of Central Alabama

Despite the challenges, the “Give Hope Change Lives’” 2021 Annual Campaign is already off to a fast start.  

Each summer, United Way holds a Pacesetter Campaign which sets the pace for UWCA’s biggest fundraising campaign in the fall that helps fund programs for the 80+ agencies the nonprofit supports.

At the launch, 2021 Pacesetter Campaign Chair Chris Harmon announced the total for this year’s pacesetter campaign.

Thanks to 20 pacesetter companies, the Pacesetter Campaign exceeded their goal, raising $10.3 million.

The following 46 companies and their employees gave financial support: 

Dentons Sirote, ServisFirst Bank, Grandview Medical Center, Robins & Morton, Warren Averett, Altec, Inc., Encompass Health Corporation, AmFirst, White Plume Technologies, Specification Rubber Products, Renasant Bank, Dunn Investment Company, United Ability, CAPTRUST, Byars-Wright, Mauldin & Jenkins, Bham Now, Red Diamond Inc., Arc of Walker County, Blount County Children’s Center, Gateway, McWane Inc., Barze taylor Noles Lowther LLC, Argent Financial Group, Legacy YMCA, Jemison Metals, Concepts & Associates, Inc., Mayer, Avadian Credit Union, Ernst & Young LLP, American Red Cross – Mid Alabama Region, Arlington Properties, First US Bank, EGS Commercial Real Estate, Southwest Water Company, Graham & Company, Kassouf & Co., P.C., Navigate Affordable Housing Partners, The Collateral Family of Companies, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AutoTec, Cobbs Allen, Timberline Management, O’Neal Industries

Come Together as One

United Way
Coach Sam Green speaking to the 2021 United Way kickoff. Photo from UWCA Facebook page

Building on the successful Pacesetter Campaign, Doug Coltharp reminded people watching the launch why the work of United Way matters. 

“I’m a finance guy, and so it resonates with me when I hear Drew (Drew Langloh) describe UWCA as an asset owned by the community. The businesses and individuals who contribute to UWCA are the shareholders of this asset. The return on investment we receive is the improved health and vibrancy of our community resulting from UWCA’s direct services – such as Meals on Wheels and Priority Veterans, support of more than 80 partner agencies, and participation in the Bold Goals coalition.”

In his address, Coach Sam Green concluded with this inspiring and important message.

“United Way has been a blessing to me and because of that I can pass it on to the youth at Boys and Girls Club… this all trickles down, it’s (giving to United Way) a chain reaction we want to have in our community —in Birmingham, Bessemer, Pell City, all six counties. We have to come together as one.”

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

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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.
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