Giving for United Way Highest in UA’s History

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

Faculty and staff from across campus gathered on the lawn of the President’s Mansion Nov. 21, a beautiful autumn day that provided a perfect backdrop to mark the conclusion of the 2019 UA United Way campaign.

Members of the Million Dollar Band set the tone for the occasion, and they provided a perfect drum roll as Big Al and his Arts and Sciences friends flipped the oversized presentation check to reveal the campaign giving total of $483,807, a figure that not only crushed the $395,000 goal but also set a new record for the largest giving total in campaign history.

Dr. Joseph Messina, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, this year’s host college, thanked the members of his team, who played an integral role in the 2019 campaign. He also acknowledged the support provided by the staff of the Division of Community Affairs, as well as the work of the campus coordinators.

“Behind the scenes, but very, very important are all the campus coordinators,” said Messina. “There are many campus coordinating team members . . . they’re scattered throughout every unit, every college, and they’re critical to making this a successful operation.”

Messina also thanked UA President Stuart R. Bell for the opportunity to host the campaign.

“We had a great time doing it,” Messina said.

Bell thanked all who play a role in making the campaign successful, noting the giving nature, in both financial resources and time, of UA faculty, staff and students. He spoke about how the annual campaign provides an opportunity to band together and make something big happen for the community.

“I think this is one of those times where we come together and realize that at The University of Alabama, we are a community, but, more than that, we are a part of this community,” said Bell. “I couldn’t be more proud of our staff and those who contribute to this program to make sure that Tuscaloosa and West Alabama is served in the way that it deserves to be served.”

Campaign Treasurer Caroline Railsback said each year she recognizes a group or area that has significantly increased its giving total or participation rate over the previous year. This year she recognized UA retirees, noting that while they always give generously, this year they gave 51 percent higher than last, raising $52,480.

Campaign co-chair Charles “Skip” Snead acknowledged the efforts of those who have been a part of the campaign. He also jokingly reminded those present that when  they met at this location two months ago for the Campaign Kickoff, Big Al wrote a  big check to cover the fundraising goal, and that  the group would soon have an opportunity to learn the status of his bank account.

Bell, Big Al, the College of Arts and Sciences team and Jackie Wuska, chief executive officer of United Way of West Alabama, joined Snead near the podium for the big reveal, after which Big Al could breathe a sigh of relief, because this was a day for celebration.

Wuska thanked everyone for their support and introduced Campaign Chair Norman Crow, president of D T Freight, who closed the celebration.

“I cannot express to you the gratitude that we have for this great support that we have gotten from The University of Alabama,” Crow said. “I want to thank Dr. Pruitt, Dr. Bell and the great team from Arts and Sciences and all of you for living united and for helping us meet the needs of this community. Thank you so much. Roll Tide.”

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.