UWWA Names Founding Director of Communications
United Way of West Alabama has named Brett Horsley as its founding director of communications. UWWA created the position to promote volunteer opportunities and to publicize the results of its Community Needs Assessment research to all of the nine counties it serves.
Horsley’s background with The University of Alabama's Institute for Social Science Research combined with his past work on UWWA communication campaigns and dedication to community service made him the ideal candidate for the position.
“I am truly looking forward to working with the passionate staff at UWWA,” said Horsley. “This group works hard to promote positive change in their community.”
Horsley graduated from the University of Alabama’s school of communication and information sciences with a degree in public relations. The University of Alabama’s National Alumni Association awarded Horsley the Outstanding Senior Award for his academic leadership and his involvement in student organizations.
West Alabama Assistance
For the most up to date information about the ways to give and get help, call 2-1-1, United Way’s Information & Referral line, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and enter the ZIP code you are calling about. You can also download the latest Infoline Newsletter here.
West Alabama Community Needs Assessment Survey
United Way of West Alabama is conducting a community-wide needs assessment survey to ensure area social service needs and resources available to meet those needs are properly identified. UWWA needs you to make sure your voice is heard by taking the United Way Community Needs Assessment (2013) to complete the short survey. UWWA partnered with Parker Consulting, Inc. for this survey, and UWWA staff and numerous community leaders will use the survey results to benefit those who live and work in Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties.
Accurate and reliable data on the demographic, social, and economic conditions of West Alabama is imperative not only for appropriate allocation of United Way donations but also for community planning and measuring impact of current social service programs/services. While the survey will help UWWA focus on the needs of our community’s citizens, agencies, and organizations, it is also intended to initiate community discussions around ways West Alabama counties can provide the highest quality of life for residents. The survey results will be available for area organizations, policymakers, program developers, students, and the community at large.
United Way Exceeds 2012/2013 Campaign Goal
United Way of West Alabama held a fund raising campaign celebration on December 13 at The University Club in Tuscaloosa and announced the community raised a record $3,351,273 in 2012. This total represents 106% of UWWA’s $3,150,000 campaign goal and is the largest amount raised by the organization. Prior to 2012, UWWA’s previous high pledge total was in 2007 when just over $3.2 million was raised.
“People saw the need; they stepped up,” said Dennis Steverson, UWWA’s 2012 Campaign Chairman. Steverson continued, “It certainly is appropriate during this season of joy, giving and thanksgiving that I can express a personal thanks to you who so represent these virtues.”
In her first year as UWWA’s President/CEO, Jackie Wuska furthered Steverson’s sentiment by adding, “It’s a testament to the heart of giving in our community that we raised a historic amount.” In addition to the exciting goal announcement, the crowd of nearly 150 heard performances of holiday songs from UWWA partner agency Arts ‘n Autism which is enjoying its first year as a United Way partner agency.
United Way Holds Campaign Kickoff & Announces 2012-2013 Goal
United Way of West Alabama kicked off its annual fund raising campaign on Tuesday, August 14 at Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa. With over 500 in attendance, it was the organizations largest kickoff event to date. At the event, a fundraising goal of $3.15 million was announced and UWWA introduced Dennis Steverson, Sr., West Alabama attorney, as Campaign Chair for 2012-2013. Each year, a member of the West Alabama community is asked to serve in this key role to lead the annual fundraising campaign to success. Steverson is a graduate of Stillman College and The University of Alabama School of Law and currently serves in the role of Tuscaloosa City Attorney.
“I am privileged and thankful for the opportunity to serve my community through this venerable organization whose mission is to solve the needs of the community through the work of dedicated volunteers and generous supporters,” said Steverson.
Steverson serves as a United Way of West Alabama Board member and is involved with numerous organizations in West Alabama. Due to his passion and leadership through several local organizations in the community, the nonprofit organization is very pleased with this year’s selection and is confident this year’s fundraiser will be a major success.
“I look forward to working with others in our compassionate community in serving the needs of our neighbors,” Steverson added. United Way surpassed its goal of $3 million with last year’s campaign, and with Steverson filling the Campaign Chair role, they hope to achieve success in 2012.
A new award to honor one of UWWA's partner agencies was announced at the event as well. The Homer Butler, Jr. Agency of the Year Award for 2011-2012 was presented to Good Samaritan Clinic. Named for UWWA's former President/CPO who retired in December 2011 after 35 years of service with United Way and 20 years directing UWWA, the award will be presented annually to one deserving partner agency.
The Good Samaritan Clinic opened its doors in June 1999 and has been providing health care services in West Alabama since. Care is provided by a wide range of volunteers, including physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals. In January of 2012, Good Samaritan Clinic solicited medication donations and began operation of a physician’s dispensary. In addition, Good Samaritan Clinic has enhanced its volunteer training and coordination services resulting in 12,288 volunteer hours - an increase of 30% from the previous year. They also moved services from a first come-first served, walk-in clinic to patient/physician appoints. This schedule has decreased patient wait time and improved overall quality and efficiency of care of patients.
Reverend Kervan Jones (Pastor of Third Street Church of God in Greensboro and Board member with Habitat for Humanity in Hale County), Ola Mae Hobson (UWWA Individual Development Account Investor), and Dennis Steverson (Tuscaloosa attorney and UWWA 2012 Campaign Chair)
Account Investor Celebrates Success
On June 14, United Way of West Alabama hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and lunch for Ola Mae Hobson of Greensboro at her home. Ms. Hobson is the first investor in West Alabama to complete United Way’s Individual Development Account (IDA) program.
The IDA is a federal grant program administered by the Office of Community Services of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The program assists qualifying individuals who open an IDA by matching earned income with local United Way funds and federal funds. The IDA promotes savings and financial stability and enables participants to acquire a lasting asset to purchase a first-time home, to earn a college education, or to start or expand a small business. (See more information about the IDA program below.)
“I feel blessed, very blessed,” said Ola Mae Hobson about her investment in the IDA program and the purchase of her home. When asked about opening an IDA and her experience in the program, Hobson said, “I don’t think it was difficult. I think it was just putting your mind to what you wanted to do, and this is what I wanted.”
Jackie Wuska, United Way of West Alabama President/CPO, said, “United Way is thrilled to help West Alabamians like Ola Mae realize a lifelong dream by participating in the IDA program.” Commenting on the value of the program, Wuska added, “It is most rewarding for us to give back to hard working individuals and families who are the backbone of our community, and a program such as IDA allows United Way to directly affect our community with funds which are reinvested and make an economic impact on West Alabama.”
“I am proud United Way of West Alabama is reaching beyond Tuscaloosa to help those in all the West Alabama counties we serve,” said Robert Kuhn, Capstone Bank President and UWWA’s Board President. He added, “By providing opportunities to Ola Mae and others investing with the IDA program, United Way is able to fulfill its mission of offering long term solutions to needs in our community.”
Individual Development Savings Accounts
What is the Individual Development Account Program? The Individual Development Account (IDA) program is a matched savings program focusing on financial stability that assists qualifying participants in acquiring a lasting asset—a first-time home, college education or start or expand a small business. The IDA program is part of Assets for Independence, a federal program administered by the Office of Community Services of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. United Way of Central Alabama serves as an administrator for the IDA program and partners with United Way of West Alabama to bring the program to West Alabama residents.
How do I qualify for an IDA? To be eligible for the IDA program, individuals must have:
- Earned income
- Annual adjusted gross income of less than $46,100 for a family of four or an individual income of $22,340.
- No more than $10,000 in total net worth excluding an automobile and home.
- Call 2-1-1 or click here to learn more
How do I get started on my IDA?
- Call 2-1-1 or click here to take an Intake Survey, or click here to submit your Application Form.
- Once submitted, a United Way representative will contact you and guide you through the process
- Once enrolled, begin making monthly deposits (minimum of $25 per month) into your IDA – a free savings account with no fees
- As your savings grow and are matched, you move closer to achieving your dreams
The Individual Development Account program is administered by United Way Central of Alabama who partners with United Way of West Alabama to bring the program to West Alabamians. It is supported by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Community Service. Local matching funds are provided through the United Way Financial Stability Partnership of Alabama by corporations, foundations, municipalities and individuals, who are committed to helping Alabamians become financially stable and build assets for personal financial independence. Call 2-1-1 or click here to learn more.