Birmingham and Central Alabama have a history of caring. Deemed one of the ‘most giving’ communities in the entire nation, residents of Birmingham and its surrounding cities and counties count on one another during times of need. Perhaps no better example of helping the community in its times of need is the United Way of Central Alabama. Celebrating its centennial anniversary this month, the United Way of Central Alabama ( UWCA) is a pillar of support, care, and leadership for our community. And Children’s Aid Society of Alabama has been a partner since the very beginning in 1923.
Formerly The Birmingham Community Chest, the UWCA was founded in 1923 with 31 agencies and a fundraising goal of $450,000. Even with present-day fundraising goals topping $35 million or more, this was a heavy lift in 1923. But the giving spirit of this community was alive even in those early days. The fundraising goal was even met in 1929 in the disastrous economic days leading up to the Great Depression. Again, community citizens and leaders rose to the challenge and embraced the needs of their neighbors.
In the early 1940’s, Children’s Aid Society of Alabama (then Children’s Aid Society of Jefferson County) played an integral role in the 18th Annual Appeal of the Birmingham and Jefferson County Community Chest.
“If every citizen of Birmingham could know as I have just discovered, the work quietly, but efficiently, being done by the Children’s Aid Society of Jefferson County, every one of us would find a new joy in giving to the Community Chest this year,” said Dr. John H. Buchanan, pastor of Southside Baptist Church. Indeed, Children’s Aid was hard at work with 309 children coming under the care of the agency in 1940 alone. At the time, Dr. Buchanan wrote “there is no service rendered by any agency of the Community Chest that is more Christian in its spirit and essence than the Children’s Aid. It is an intelligent and efficient way of solving a major social problem, which always exists in a city the size of Birmingham.”
Throughout UWCA’s first century CAS has been hard at work meeting Alabama’s foster and adoption care needs, work we could not continue without the ongoing support of the present-day UWCA. Providing funding, leadership advice, continuing education, and capacity building, the UWCA is a formidable partner in meeting our needs. We are grateful for their leaders, like Dan Dunne and Drew Langloh; board icons, including the late Alice Williams and A.G. Gaston; and the countless – thousands upon thousands – of dedicated volunteers who give their time, talent, and energy each year for campaigns and programs.
Now, as we celebrate UWCA’s 100th anniversary on June 24th at Birmingham's City Walk, let us pause for a moment and give thanks. Let us recognize the role of the UWCA in our community and celebrate its mission. For without the United Way of Central Alabama, countless needs and causes would go unnoticed, and unchanged.
Congratulations on your milestone, United Way of Central Alabama! Let’s celebrate!
-John Stone, Director of Advancement