Making Progress in Northeast Alabama

Posted on January 19, 2012 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

Over the holidays,  Initiative Manager Sandy Beckley - who leads our project to create an enhancement at Sarasota National Cemetery - was visiting Alabama and decided to see first hand how our disaster funding is making a difference. The following is Sandy's account of what she saw.

Vacationing in Northeast Alabama in January was restful and rewarding in many ways, as there is little to do around Talladega is January – especially if you are not a racing fan. The afternoons were filled with exploring, which included side trips to Knoxville, TN and Montevallo, AL to visit National Cemeteries and view their Assembly Areas.

Why you ask, would you visit cemeteries? Well, as the Military Initiative Manager for The Patterson Foundation (TPF), viewing other cemetery assembly areas helps me in develop the enhancement of Sarasota National Cemetery Assembly Area.

But as an Initiative Manager of TPF, I am always looking for connective tissue with other TPF initiatives, which led me to visit Jacksonville, AL on one of my side trips. This is one of the areas in Alabama impacted by tornadoes on April 27, 2011, leaving massive damage and many homeless.

TPF’s Disaster Relief Initiative kicked into action, finding the efforts of the First Baptist Church of Williams near Jacksonville, AL not only ready to help their community but a central point for assistance with  food, supplies and even a system to help rebuild. TPF gave the church efforts a boost with $50,000 to assist in their rebuilding efforts. Knowing this, I needed to see the area and some of the homes that had been completed.

I arrived at the church basically unannounced. Wallace Almaroad, head of the Community Resource Group, was not available but two young adults, Amy and Nick, volunteered to drive us to some of the homes. We saw two that were near completion only lacking kitchen cabinets, three homes that the families are enjoying and two other homes that attachments were funded by the church. As Amy drove and Nick described the efforts, they filled in with stories that ranged from unbelievable to humorous.

This side trip was enlightening, a church that jumped into action to serve their community and most of those helped were not church members. One of the touching stories was about a family with three young boys, an appreciative family that since joined the church and according to Amy, has the cutest three boys who are always first in line to help during any church activity. Even though these boys are young, they appreciate their new home and even more - their new family.

Nick explained that each home cost approximately $50,000 to build but was valued at $120,000 at the time each family moved into their new furnished home. As impactful as their stories were, witnessing Amy and Nick as they shared their pride in being involved with assisting their community was beyond words.

The fact that TPF found and helped the First Baptist Church of Williams rebuild their community and begin leveraging of funds is nothing short of remarkable as other donors have added to the charitable investment giving the Jacksonville community a new start in life.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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