Surgeon General Commends Local Taskforce


by Walt Stricklin

by Walt Stricklin

On September 23rd, the United States Surgeon General, Dr. Steven Galson, presented the Jefferson County Childhood Obesity Taskforce with a Community Champion Award and praised the partnerships that formed that group for working to combat childhood obesity in Jefferson County.  Dr. Galson noted that the rate of obesity in the country has tripled since 1980, resulting in increased rates of diabetes, heart disease, vision problems and kidney failure.  Alabama has the nation’s second highest rate of adult obesity and 11th highest rate of childhood obesity.  The Jefferson County Childhood Obesity Taskforce is a goal group of the Healthy Lifestyles Committee, chaired by United Way of Central Alabama, and a part of the Jefferson County Department of Health’s Health Action Plan.



Got $260,000?

$260,000…big number. But why does it matter to you?

This is the amount per person in lost wages that an Alabama high school dropout today can expect to lose over the course of their lifetime.  The report, by the Alliance for Excellent Education titled “The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools,” identified over 6.5 billion dollars (yes billion with a B) in lost wages for the 25,ooo Alabama high school drop-outs. That’s right…each of the 25,000 annual alabama high school dropouts can expect to lose $260,000 over the course of their lifetime…poof!

 Think about the effect  lost wages and associated lost tax revenue has on our state.  Every class of drop-outs adds to the economic hit our community will face in the future.

 Please don’t believe me.  Read the report yourself here  It makes a very strong case for improving the graduation rates of students here in Alabama and nationwide.

 United Way continues to work with individuals to improve the three cornerstones of a good life: education, income, and health.

Gustav has left the building….

Now that Gustav has rolled through Louisiana and Mississippi, we have an update on the good and the bad in the storms aftermath.


First, the bad. The storm has left much of New Orleans and rural Louisiana without power, and it wasn’t until yesterday that the millions of evacuated residents received the green light to return to their still powerless homes. It is now estimated that the area sustained between 6 and 10 billion dollars in damage, a much smaller amount than the over 41 billion in damages Katrina caused. By and large, the oil and natural gas producing refineries were spared serious damage.

Now, the good. After mass evacuations, the loss of human life was kept at a minimum. Birmingham provided a safe haven to over 6,000 evacuees (approximately 4,400 in shelters, and many with families).  There was a huge outpouring of local support, and United Way continues to play a role in the coordination and response effort.  Over 400 volunteers through Hands On Birmingham and many more through Red Cross (both United Way partners) gave their time, and the community came together to support the shelters.  United Way’s statewide 211 hotlines performed flawlessly.  The 211 number, funded and coordinated by the United Ways of Alabama, has answered and helped find assistance for over 2,000 Gustav related calls!

The greater Birmingham area should be proud of the hospitality and scope of its response to the evacuees of Gustav.  I know I am.

Are You Ready 2 Read?

 This week, young professionals in Birmingham are living united by training to serve as a Ready 2 Read volunteer and help local students get “ready to succeed” in school and in life.
United Way agency Better Basics is partnering with local young professionals in The Rotaract Club of Birmingham to implement Rotaract’s signature service project, Ready 2 Read.  Young professionals are working to improve the education and the future success of Birmingham students by investing in the literacy of 2nd Grade students in the Birmingham City Schools.
Research indicates that if a child is not reading at grade level by the 3rd grade, it is considerably more difficult for that child to catch up or excel academically in later years.  Rotaract and Better Basics are calling for your help to ensure students successfully reach this critical learning milestone.  They are asking for all young professionals in the area to consider becoming a Ready 2 Read volunteer.