United Way of Southwest Alabama / President's Desk  / President’s August Blog – I Have A Confession to Make
21-President's August Blog

President’s August Blog – I Have A Confession to Make

I have a confession to make. I am currently suffering from depression.  This is not an easy confession for me to make.  I have everything that I physically need. I have the career of my dreams. I have a loving family. I have devoted staff. I have the best partners in crime, aka my friends. Yet, somehow, I have slumped into a funk that I can’t seem to crawl out of.

A friend and a colleague both confessed to me on Wednesday that they are in the throes of depression.  Why are three CEO’s of nonprofits in Mobile experiencing depression?

I have spent the last two days analyzing this.  Here are my theories.

Last year presented difficulties to the majority of people on this planet.  People experienced severe illness due to COVID 19, and in some cases, experienced persisting effects of the virus. People lost loved ones and could not see them in their last days or hold ceremonies to celebrate their lives.  People lost their dreams when they lost their businesses –their lives’ works.  People lost their homes. People lost their faith in government and in institutions. People lost their jobs.  People had to ask for assistance who have never had to ask for assistance. People could not see, hug or kiss loved ones.  People could not travel. People experienced drug and alcohol related issues. People had to homeschool their children.

When the vaccines became available, many of us believed that the virus was going to be in our rearview mirrors.  As seen in the last week, that is not the case.  Record numbers of infections have occurred with two new strains emerging from the delta strain. We have renewed our mask policy at the United Way of Southwest Alabama. I warned the staff that this in all likelihood would occur, but I secretly thought or hoped that I would be wrong.

The United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA) staff worked their tails off individually and collectively to raise much needed funds for our community in 2020. In good times, fundraising is difficult. In bad times, fundraising is difficult.  Yet, somehow, the United Way of Southwest Alabama staff raised money for the campaign to address all of the issues so many people face on a daily basis and then additional dollars to address the issues presented by COVID-19 and by the two named storms that decided to visit our area last fall.

So, one year later, I am singing to the virus, “Here you come again, just when I’ve begun to get myself together.”

So here we go again.  We lost campaigns last year because so many industries limited exposure onsite to essential employees and contractors – we were not considered essential.  Some industries ran limited campaigns.  Some of our donors lost jobs, lost spouses, lost parents, lost children and giving was not a priority.

So how did I get from my depression to supporting the United Way of Southwest Alabama.  It’s simple. I think the world feels overwhelmed once again.  I feel overwhelmed at the prospect of the world feeling overwhelmed. If I, of all people, am feeling this, then how do those who do not have the support systems that I have feel?

On any given day, each of us has the opportunity to experience our own personal disasters. If you have been fortunate enough to miss having any personal disasters, then you are truly loved by the Gods.

On September 1, 2021, the United Way of Southwest Alabama will launch its 2021 Community Campaign to support our 46 partner agencies and our internal programs which aid our friends, neighbors and family during their times of need.

We ask that you support this community campaign.

Please join us.

You have the power to change lives.

You have the power to save lives.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, there is help available and you are not alone. For mental health services available in Southwest Alabama, call United Way health and human services referral line at 2-1-1 or 888.421.1266. If it is an emergency, call the Suicide Hotline at 800.273.8255.

By Jill Chenoweth, UWSWA President & CEO


Click here for the August Facebook Live Broadcast featuring Alesia Burrell with International Paper – Pine Hill Mill, Tracy Coleman with University of South Alabama, Kate Carver and Sarah Laurio with Dumas Wesley Community Center, a Dumas Client,  UWSWA VP of Community Impact Trista Stout-Walker, VP of Resource Development Justine Bixler, and Marketing Specialist / Labor Liaison Leslie Schraeder