Author: Leslie Schraeder

United Way of Southwest Alabama / Articles posted by Leslie Schraeder (Page 14)

By LaToya Stevens is the Marketing and Communications Director at Heart of Missouri United Way

Juneteenth (June 19) is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom, and emphasizes education and achievement.

It’s celebrated across America with block parties, cookouts and educational events. You may not know the history of Juneteenth because until today, it has not been recognized as a federal holiday. If it’s not part of your culture, this may be your first time hearing about Juneteenth.

By Dr. Juliette Tuakli, Founder and Medical Director of CHILDAccra

Good start, right direction, but more to do.

That’s how United Way leaders see the job ahead when it comes to recovery and rebuilding in the wake of COVID-19.

While the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit raised an unprecedented amount of money last year for COVID-19 relief, the pandemic’s multiple waves around the world remind us that our work is far from over.

By Trista Stout-Walker, Vice President of Community Impact

I recently had the pleasure of traveling with my family out West for a wedding. Growing up, I would shudder to admit that I was from Alabama, especially rural Alabama.  My fear would focus on how I was perceived or society’s perception of how we talk or live. My recent travels showed me that Alabamians are very proud. We wear our RTR hats or War Eagle t-shirts proudly. All you have to do is say “Roll Tide” in a crowd and immediately find a new friend. We visited three different states and I encountered numerous residents of Alabama. In Gardiner, Montana, the Iron Horse Bar & Grill is owned and operated from a native of Tuscaloosa. It was decked out with Alabama memorabilia and even had a license plate from Washington County.

The United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA) welcomed Mia Lormand as a Spring 2021 intern. Mia attends Spring Hill College, majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Graphic Design. She grew up in the “Frog Capital of the World”, Rayne, Louisiana. 

Mia chose to become an intern at UWSWA because it gave her a chance to improve her graphic design skills in a professional setting and to serve the community in new and exciting ways. She believes the best way to improve the community is bu ensuring there is a sense of fellowship amongst community members. She said, “If everyone is willing to lend a hand, the entire community improves. I find that sharing food is the best way to create a sense of solidarity.

By Trista Stout-Walker, Vice President of Community Impact

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness month, I reflect on the past year and the resiliency shown by the Partner Agencies of United Way. Our community suffered tremendous anguish, anxiety, and grief during the pandemic and other events that transpired in 2020. The past year highlighted the need in human and health support services for increased mental health supports.

The United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA) welcomed Myles Cook as a Spring 2021 intern. Myles attends Spring Hill College, majoring in Financial Economics.

Myles chose to become an intern at UWSWA because it would give him the ability to offer his time to the community which is a very important aspect of his life.

By Justine Bixler, UWSWA Vice President of Resource Development

On an annual basis, United Way of Southwest Alabama funds over 100 programs operated by our 46 non-profit partner agencies. In addition to these programs, our staff facilitates 11 internal programs that also provide direct services to individuals throughout our local community. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) is one of these 11 programs. The VITA program offers free basic tax return preparation for qualified individuals. The program has operated for over 50 years, offering free tax help to:

  • People who generally make $57,000 or less
  • Persons with disabilities; and
  • Limited English-speaking taxpayers
  • Who need assistance when preparing their own returns.

Do you know someone with a HEART OF GOLD?

Has someone you know gone above and beyond the call of duty?

Do you know someone on the front lines during this unique time that has impacted you or an agency in our community?  

UWSWA is proud to honor its volunteers with the Heart of Gold Award. The awards recognize volunteers for their dedication and service in the areas of education, health, financial stability, or essentials. The engagement of the hundreds of individuals who volunteer with us each year is critical to the success of both UWSWA and our 46 partner agencies.