The sound of drums from Woodlawn High School’s band practicing in the distance sets a rhythm to the activity at the nearby two-acre teaching farm, where a handful of students are laying irrigation for a crop of collard greens.
On one of July’s hottest days in Birmingham, Alabama, a team of Protective Life Corporation employees quickly battled a mass of overgrown shrubbery and trees, giving a fresh look to the mission camp.
Jeff Newman, hobbyist mine historian, pushes fallen branches out of the way, a habit learned from years working maintenance at the park. “I’m here to make the park look good, no matter what it takes,” he says.
David Loper, Senior Vice President and Counsel at Protective Life Corporation, loves rolling up his sleeves for the Birmingham Zoo.
Not far from the high-end resorts and golf courses, Casa Hogar, a refuge for children and teenagers unable to live with their parents, is celebrating a recent renovation that provides them expanded access to clean water.
The circumstances that bring women to shelters like First Light have changed. Director of volunteer services Deborah Everson calls it a stew of factors, and the recipe looks something like this: “1 cup mental illness, 3 dashes of joblessness, 2 scoops of addiction to medication to deal with the mental illness.” She shares this recipe for homelessness to church groups, organizations and businesses, hoping to offer insight into an issue that is perceived by most as “someone else’s problem.” And it is “until that stew happens in their families,” she adds. And when it does, First Light is there to help. In the 1980s when First Light was just a volunteer-operated emergency night shelter for women and children located in the basement of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, it was easy to describe the face of homelessness. “They were bag ladies. Single women. Alcoholics or prostitutes,” Everson says.…
Cathy Lindberg holds her 24-year-old daughter’s riding helmet between them and traces the matte black brim with her forefinger. “What makes this a princess helmet, Molly? Can you show us?” Her daughter raises her finger to the two gold horse stickers catching light from the top of the helmet. A smile stretches across her face. “That’s right,” Cathy says. “Because they’re magic.” When Molly’s riding helmet is strapped on and she mounts her black-and-white horse, Oreo, she is a princess. She takes the reins of her horse, flanked on each side by a volunteer side walker to ensure she stays secure in the saddle. A leader guides the horse through a series of maneuvers – stops, turns, trots. The team moves in sequence with other riders and walkers, preparing for one of the end-of-session horse shows. Molly is developmentally delayed, which qualifies her to participate in the therapeutic riding sessions…
Four years ago, Marcus Fetch had nothing to lose. The young Nebraska native was a drifter, moving from town to town picking up construction jobs when he needed money. At 24, he landed in Birmingham, Alabama, not knowing a soul. What happened next was fate in the making.
The conference featured more than 30 sessions on topics including work/life balance, entrepreneurship, professional advancement, and speakers.
The money that goes into the kettles and donations throughout the year provide a vital safety net for individuals and communities in crisis.