Before speakers took to the podium, those in attendance enjoyed a buffet-style meal catered by Jim 'N Nick's BBQ. Walker County’s 2013 United Way Chairman Brent McCarver then greeted people.
“I’m so glad you came. I really appreciate this turnout. It really shows Drew [Langloh], the CEO of United Way in Birmingham, the type of compassion we have here in Walker County,” McCarver said. “That’s really what our theme for Walker County is, having ‘a passion for compassion,’ to get out and just work hard to help other people.”
After Greg Story, Alabama North District Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene, said a prayer over the organization, one of the loaned executives Renea Cain announced the presentation of a proclamation bestowed upon United Way by the Jasper City Council.
Council member Gary Cowen spoke on behalf of Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey and the council in thanking United Way for all that the agency has accomplished over the years.
“Whereas the City Council of the City of Jasper, Ala., recognizes the great benefit residents receive from United Way allocations to programs provided to various agencies located in Jasper, such as American Red Cross, Arc of Walker County, Positive Maturity, Salvation Army of Walker County, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Disability Rights and Resources, Family Resource Center of Northwest Alabama, Daybreak and Boy Scouts of America,” Cowen read. “... Now, therefore, be it resolved by the City Council of the City of Jasper that the United Way of Central Alabama receive full support for the 2013 campaign currently underway and encourage all residents, businesses and city employees to become a contributor to ensure continued services to meet the needs.”
Several individuals and agencies that support United Way were then recognized throughout the crowd. After door prizes were given out, McCarver announced the guest speaker for the day Drew Langloh — CEO and president of United Way of Central Alabama Inc. Langloh has worked with United Way since 1991. McCarver said Langloh has traveled and worked a large majority of Northeastern states in the U.S. but returned to Alabama in 2008 as the president and CEO of the nonprofit company.
UWCA is among the top 20 United Ways in the U.S. in total revenue and raised more than $37.5 million during last year’s campaign, according to McCarver.
He also added that Langloh has helped to raise more than $725 million for charity throughout his career.
“We kicked off the United Way campaign for the whole five-county area yesterday. We set a goal of $37.9 million,” Langloh said. “... As we are looking forward, one of the things that we think a lot about is how things change in a way that we as nonprofits and as helping organizations have to start thinking about helping differently. We have to start thinking about working smarter, working ahead of some of these problems.”
Langloh hit on points such as being able to work “collectively and collaboratively” with government municipalities. The organization looked at areas including health and education and explored what the driving factors were causing problems like childhood obesity and the importance of early childhood education.
“We’re finding ways to do things better, to do things smarter, to do things upstream, but at the same time we can’t just shift all of our focus in one direction and not be a compassionate community and help people who are hurting today,” Langloh said. “We are at a place where we have to be doing two things, two mandates, two things at once: We have to be helping those who need us most right now, and we have to be working smart, upstream, to find solutions to some of the problems that are really vexing us as a community.”
McCarver announced that Walker County’s United Way goal for this year is $1,170,000 to help UWCA’s goal toward raising $37.9 million.
After the kick-off luncheon, Cain expressed her feelings about UWCA, adding that she has worked with the volunteer-led organization since 1989.
“I’m so passionate about it. I enjoy it, and I look forward to this time of the year,” said Cain. “It’s a lot of work. We have 12 weeks to raise $1.2 million, but I have Sue [Kiker] helping me. It’s an unbelievable task, but I enjoy every minute of it.”