United Way of Central Alabama Seeking $10.7 Million in Pacesetter Campaign

Published 1:35 pm Thursday, June 13, 2024

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BIRMINGHAM – United Way of Central Alabama kicked off its 2024 fundraising effort with a charge to dozens of local companies to raise $10.7 million through this year’s Pacesetter Campaign, which was launched at a breakfast event at the Florentine in downtown Birmingham.

The Pacesetter Campaign serves as a jump-start to United Way’s annual fundraising efforts, bringing together businesses and community leaders to support vital health and human services.

Mike Kemp, founder of Kemp Management Solutions and chair of this year’s Pacesetter Campaign, said the companies involved in this campaign are “paving the way” for others throughout the year.

“What we do now will directly impact and improve the lives of people right here in our community,” Kemp said. “They are counting on us, and they are counting on you. Be somebody who makes a difference.”

The theme for this year’s workplace campaign is “Be Somebody” to highlight the importance of each individual to the overall impact that United Way has in Central Alabama.

Maryhelen Kirkpatrick, Alabama’s executive director of the American Cancer Society, said while the theme most obviously applies to volunteering and donating to UWCA, it applies even more broadly to everyday life.

“Think about how that relates to your life,” said Kirkpatrick. “Whether it’s in your family, whether it’s in the workplace or whether it’s just building margin in your day to see if there’s somebody to whom you can maybe lend a helping hand or an ear.”

Sponsors for the Thursday event included Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, AmFirst and Mercedes Benz U.S. International.

Leroy Abrahams, head of Community Engagement at Regions Bank and chair of this year’s fall campaign, thanked everyone involved with the Pacesetter Campaign and pointed to a recent 30 percent increase in reading proficiency among third graders in Birmingham City Schools as yet another win for UWCA.

“One of the reasons that increase happened is because those kids have services that allow them to eat, to have better housing security, to be tutored,” Abrahams said. “Those things weren’t happening to the same degree several years ago. They’re happening now (in part through United Way programs) and it allows those kids to be more successful.”

The success of those kids, Abrahams said, will have generational benefits.

“And what happens when these kids are more successful is that the next generation also becomes more successful, because kids who get to eat do better in school, and kids who do better in school don’t get into as much trouble,” Abrahams said. “They’re more successful, and they earn more money, and they can provide for their family so the next generation benefits, as well.”

Additionally, three community leaders spoke at the Pacesetter event:

  • Darnell Gardner, lifelong Fairfield resident and former Fairfield City Council president
  • Terri Harvill, chief social impact Officer for YMCA of Greater Birmingham
  • Joan Wright, executive director of Childcare Resources

Their topics covered some of the various ways that United Way is addressing vital areas of need in the community, including access to services, food insecurity and childcare for working families.

Those interested in more information from the event, can go to Uwca.org/united-way-kicks-off-2024-pacesetter-campaign.

United Way of Central Alabama serves Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties. Through its many partner agencies, community initiatives and strategic planning, the organization works to improve lives and community conditions by providing programs and services that address people’s critical needs, including health, education, financial stability and access to services.