UA Announces Success for Annual UA United Way Campaign

by Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator, Division of Community Affairs

University faculty and staff, as well as United Way of West Alabama (UWWA) and partner agency representatives, gathered on the Gorgas Quad October 14 — a picture perfect day — to learn the giving total for the annual UA United Way Campaign.

The Capstone College of Nursing (CCN) served as the host college for the 2021 campaign, and they wanted to put a spotlight on their dedicated nursing students and the hard work they have done alongside their faculty and staff mentors throughout the pandemic. And so it was only fitting that the students, along with Big Al, revealed the total — $406,720.84 — a figure that exceeded the $400,000 campaign goal!

UA United Way Celebration-52

Dr. Nicole Prewitt, campaign champion, gave the opening remarks and introduced Dr. Suzanne Prevost, dean of CCN, who welcomed those present and thanked all — from campaign co-chairs Dr. Michelle Cheshire and Dr. Michele Montgomery, to unit coordinators, UA President Stuart R. Bell, and all who contributed — for their roles in once again making this annual campaign a success.

“For everyone on campus and everyone here today who has made a personal contribution or a pledge to support the United Way, I just want to thank you for your teamwork and support,” said Prevost. “And I want to thank our University president for his long-standing commitment and role modeling to support the campaign every year.”

Dr. Bell reflected on the caring spirit of UA faculty and staff. “What another great year to come together and to celebrate what our campus has done,” he said. “I thank our faculty and staff on this campus every year that I have had the pleasure of serving as president, that I am able to come out and have so much gratitude for what this campus does and the heart that they (the faculty and staff) have to care for those who are in need. Once again, our faculty and staff have demonstrated that.”

President Bell thanked CCN for its role in this year’s campaign, expressing that when he thinks of those who serve, he thinks of nurses. He thanked the Division of Community Affairs for its leadership in this annual campaign, as well as the campaign coordinators, noting that it’s those department-level leaders who serve the essential role of making sure that faculty and staff remember to make their pledges and donations. “Thank you all for taking on that leadership role and making every year such a success for us,” he said.

Dr. Bell also thanked United Way of West Alabama CEO Jackie Wuska and her staff for ensuring that seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, people are working to ensure that the resources made available by our fundraising efforts reach those in need.

Longtime campaign treasurer Caroline Railsback acknowledged those from her office whose support and assistance allows her to take time away from her job to work on this annual campaign, as well as Prathima Gilliam, who in a very short period in 2020 created the online giving platform now used for the campaign.

“I’d like to call out some specific divisions this year,” said Railsback, “which I typically don’t do, but I think that they need to be recognized. We have three divisions that have a higher than 90% contribution rate. That’s Advancement, Community Affairs and Strategic Communications. I also want to call out the retirees from The University of Alabama. We quite simply could not make our goal without their contributions. They gave over $50,000 this year.”

Campaign co-chair Cheshire shared, “We at the Capstone College of Nursing have been honored to be a part of this campaign. We have always had a strong relationship with many of the United Way agencies, and this campaign has allowed us to advocate for them. The theme we chose — Committed to Caring for those in Need — resonated with us, as we hope it did for all of you.

“For years, faculty and staff at the Capstone College of Nursing have had the opportunity to introduce our students, many of whom are not from the West Alabama area, to the amazing services provided by United Way agencies. We have been able to use these agencies as clinical placements for nursing students to learn to provide patient care outside of the hospital setting. We have been able to expose them to the great work of the United Way agencies and given them a front-row seat to witness the impact of the services these agencies provide. We can lecture in the classroom about the need for nurses to be servant leaders in their communities, but the United Way agencies have allowed them to see firsthand what servant leadership looks like, through the volunteers and the staff who are the boots on the ground in these agencies.

“Being committed to caring for those in need is exactly what employees of the University are passionate about. We are thankful that the College of Nursing has been able to be a part of this campaign. Since 2020, life has changed dramatically, and the needs of many in our community have increased exponentially. What the dean and Michele (Montgomery) and I have witnessed and monitored weekly, is that the generous spirit of UA employees is alive and well. Thank you for letting us be a small part of the huge impact that your generosity will have on West Alabama.”

Wuska and Sandra Hall Ray, 2021 Campaign chair for UWWA, thanked the University for consistently rising to the challenge, whatever that might be, by bringing together the talents, skills, enthusiasm and generous hearts of its employees to support the community each year through this annual campaign, which is the largest for employee gifts in West Alabama.

The campaign will continue through the end of the semester, and donations can be made through the secure, online giving portal at http://communityaffairs.ua.edu/2021-united-way-headquarters/ through Friday, Dec. 3. Those who prefer to give via pledge card should contact Elizabeth Hartley at ehartley@ua.edu. Donations of at least $60 will qualify for a Donor Rewards Card containing offers from a variety of West Alabama businesses.

 

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The Division of Community Affairs leads the annual UA United Way Campaign with a structure that provides opportunities for UA colleges and administrative units to host the campaign each year. The United Way of West Alabama has 26 partner agencies and plays a vital role in improving the quality of people’s lives. Partner agencies from Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties provide a variety of education, income-related, health and emergency-response programs to citizens throughout West Alabama.