Shelby County United Way launches 2016 campaign

Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock speaks during the United Way of Shelby County’s campaign kickoff luncheon at Alabaster City Hall on Sept. 22. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock speaks during the United Way of Shelby County’s campaign kickoff luncheon at Alabaster City Hall on Sept. 22. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The United Way is looking to raise more than $2 million in Shelby County to benefit the county’s myriad nonprofit agencies providing services ranging from crisis assistance to youth mentorship programs, the organization announced during a Sept. 22 luncheon at Alabaster City Hall.

Shelby County United Way 2016 campaign chairperson Kelli Holmes said the United Way of Central Alabama is working to raise a total of $39 million, a little more than $2 million of which will be raised specifically to benefit Shelby County agencies.

“At the end of the day, the money that is raised in Shelby County for these Shelby County agencies – It matters,” Holmes said during the kickoff luncheon. “All of us are one phone call away from needing the services offered by one of these amazing United Way agencies. Without United Way funding, some of these agencies wouldn’t be able to keep their doors open.”

Nineteen United Way agencies, including the American Red Cross, Gateway, Shelby County Emergency Assistance, the YMCA and Owen’s House, operate programs in Shelby County, and depend largely on United Way for their operating budgets, said luncheon keynote speaker Alex Dudchock.

“In our county, we recognize the importance of togetherness and the power of community” said Dudchock, who is Shelby County’s manager. “That’s what we are talking about when we talk about giving to the United Way.”

Dudchock said agencies receiving United Way funding are able to spend more time focusing on improving their services to people in need, rather than focusing on fundraising.

He specifically praised Altec and Publix for contributing significant amounts already to the 2016 Shelby County United Way campaign.

United Way agencies such as SafeHouse of Shelby County and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby County have seen a rise in the number of people using their services over the last few years, Dudchock said. SafeHouse has housed 91 adults and 76 children over the past year, and Big Brothers Big Sisters has expanded from three schools in Shelby County two years ago to 10 schools today, he said.

“We are here today because we know the importance of United Way funding,” Dudchock said. “We need to go out from here and educate others about that importance.”