At its December board meeting, United Way of Central Alabama’s directors approved the allocation of $26,647,355 to more than 71 United Way agencies and other nonprofits that applied for funding for 2022.
438 United Way Volunteers
The vote was taken after a diverse group of 438 volunteers from its six-county service area reviewed the applications. Divided up into 24 Visiting Allocation Teams (VAT), these volunteers virtually met with agency staff, boards and in some cases toured a facility.
“As a United Way volunteer and someone who donates to the United Way, it’s really important to me that every dollar people donate is going to an agency that is going to move the needle to make a positive impact in Birmingham,” said Virginia Staton, who works at Deloitte and chaired a Visiting Allocation Team.
A Difficult Year
This year, the impact of COVID -19 on staff, clients and fundraising remained a top concern for many of the agencies that applied. They also expressed concern about being able to retain qualified staff to keep up with the demand for services caused by the pandemic. Sadly, many agencies actually reported losing staff, clients and volunteers to the virus, since many of the populations cared for by United Way agencies are medically vulnerable
All told, 71 agencies and groups received United Way funding for 2022, including:
- Crisis Center — Crisis Center operates several 24-hour hotlines for people facing crisis and suicidal thoughts.During the pandemic the need for these services grew. The number of crisis & suicide line calls are still three times higher than before the pandemic.
- Family Connection Program — A Shelby County program, TOPS (Therapeutic Outreach Programs) in schools provides counseling to individuals, group and family counseling to middle school students facing homelessness and domestic violence. The Center also operates a 24-hour shelter for homeless youth. At one point during the pandemic, Family Connection had to close the shelter because nearly all the staff were recovering from Covid-19.
- Birmingham Urban League — In partnership with the Jefferson County Commission, the Urban League helped renters facing eviction due to job losses during the pandemic.
- Pathways — The Pathways Early Learning Center, which opened in late 2021, provides high quality childcare and early learning opportunities in a center designed to meet the unique needs of children experiencing homelessness. This innovative, free program exclusively serves children ages 8 weeks to five years in families experiencing homelessness. Like many other shelters, most of Pathways’ staff has had Covid-19 multiple times, regardless of vaccination status.
According to Staton, the VATs look at many things when they evaluate United Way supported agencies and nonprofits. They ask questions about the number of people impacted by the agency in the past year and the upcoming year’s plans. The VATs also talk to not only the staff, but also board members and even the people who benefit from United Way’s funding.
“It’s good to find out a bit more about the agencies that maybe you just know their name and not all the services they provide,” she said. “But what’s so impactful is to hear how it’s helping a person in making their life better.”
Successful Annual Campaign
In early December, the United Way of Central Alabama met the annual campaign goal, raising over $36. 2 million. The UWCA supports six counties including Jefferson, Shelby, St, Clair, Blount, Walker and Chilton.. This will be the first year Chilton County will be a part of the allocation process.
“We would like to thank our community for their incredible outpouring of support through our successful fundraising campaign. This will ensure that the vital work done by our partner agency network continues,” said Drew Langloh, president and CEO, United Way of Central Alabama.
“Give Hope, Change Lives” – because of our generous community, thousands of people in our community will be supported in 2022. Virginia Staton is right. The work is impactful. And, in the face of Covid-19, it’s never been needed more.