UA Surpasses Goal in 2017 United Way Campaign

Celebrating a successful UA campaign are, from left, Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs; Jackie Wuska, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of West Alabama; Sarah Patterson, chairwoman of the 2017 West Alabama United Way campaign; and Dr. Stuart R. Bell, UA president.

By Derek Hooper

The University of Alabama celebrated the conclusion of its 2017 United Way Campaign on Nov. 30 at the University Medical Center, raising $454,929. The campaign, hosted by UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, surpassed its goal by more than 21 percent.

The campaign, themed “The Heart of UA: United for Community, Caring, Health and Service,” kicked off Oct. 18 with a goal of $375,000.

“When we set these stretch goals, we’re anxious about it and, quite frankly, a little bit nervous as well,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell as he addressed the audience at the celebration. “But I always know that the University community is so incredibly giving. The fact that we move these around to our different colleges allows us to engage our community in a wonderful way.”

Wyndy Looney, UA United Way co-chair and University Medical Center director of nursing in CCHS, said, “We get to see a lot of our community come through our college, so we get to see firsthand what United Way does for our community. This truly was an honor to be the host this year.”

Prior to the announcement of this year’s grand total, UA United Way Campaign treasurer Caroline Railsback shared that her goal was for the University to raise more money than Hunt Oil, which was leading UA by more than $3,100 the morning of the event. An afternoon donation gave UA the lead.

“I can’t believe we’re almost at a half-million dollars (from UA),” said Jackie Wuska, president and chief executive officer of United Way of West Alabama, full of emotion after receiving the check. “That is so beautiful.”

The campaign, coordinated by UA’s Divison of Community Affairs, has exceeded its goal for 18 consecutive years.

Former UA gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson serves as the 2017 United Way of West Alabama campaign chairwoman and was thrilled at the outcome of this year’s UA campaign.

“To be a part of the University campaign and get to come back and speak to so many people and all the people that I love, and then see our University win another championship, I think that’s pretty successful,” said Patterson. “I do hope, though, that it’s just not about giving one time, but that there are 365 days a year where you look for people who need it.”

United Way of West Alabama, which covers Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties, has 39 partner agencies involved in the campaign. These agencies provide a variety of education, income-related, health and emergency-response programs to citizens throughout West Alabama. For more information about United Way of West Alabama, visit www.uwwa.org.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.