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For the third year in a row, United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA) is working to help reduce chronic absenteeism by raising awareness among parents and guardians about the impact of school attendance on academic achievement.  Chronic absenteeism in the primary grades is a predictor of lower reading scores.  By middle school it is a warning sign that students are at risk of failing classes and dropping out of high school.

Our November Volunteer of the month was nominated by our 2015 award winner for Outstanding Partner, The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile. Liz Calci, Assistant Director at RMHC, nominated this person because of her longtime volunteer status and her commitment to helping others. Congratulations to Suzanne Miller, United Way of Southwest Alabama’s November Volunteer of the Month!

Every superhero has a different origin story – a cause that drives them to crusade for a better world. Despite these various causes, one thing remains constant: whether it be Batman, Wonder Woman, or the entire Justice League, superheroes and great leaders always do the right thing by serving others.

So, here is a little backstory about the superhero who is leading UWSWA and serving others in southwest Alabama:

Penelope House Family Violence Center nominated this month’s Volunteer of the Month in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is also in October. Penelope House helps victims of intimate partner violence to gain social and economic independence through shelter, counseling, advocacy, and referral of community resources and agencies. The prevention of domestic violence through education and public awareness is their goal. The work of Penelope House could only be done with the help of dedicated volunteers such as this month’s honoree. Congratulations to Johnnette Quinn, United Way of Southwest Alabama’s October Volunteer of the Month.

This month’s Volunteer of the Month comes to us from Victory Health Partners, a Christian organization that meets the needs of the medically under-served by providing affordable, quality health care services. This UWSWA partner serves clients in Mobile and surrounding counties that are low income, uninsured, do not qualify for government healthcare and cannot afford healthcare.

Today UWSWA announced that Clifford Grimes will be the new President and CEO, effective September 24, 2015. Grimes has served as the CEO of Victoria County United Way since 2009, where he increased their campaign 42% in three years, and has accumulated nearly 30 years of experience with various United Ways across the nation. Grimes is succeeding Alan H. Turner II, who led the organization from 2011 until July of this year.

This month’s Volunteer of the Month has been credited, by the nominator, with being the “the epitome of UWSWA’s slogan ‘Live United.’”  Congratulations to Shelli Bell, our August Volunteer of the Month! Jessica James, Executive director of McKemie Place, nominated Shelli. McKemie place is the only overnight shelter for single, homeless women in all of Mobile, Washington and Baldwin Counties, and Jessica describes Shelli as “the most valuable volunteer in the history of McKeme Place.”