Jane Shirah, vice president of resource development with the United Way of Central Alabama, said the cookout was held as a way to say “thanks” to the Arc and its employees for their consistent contributions to the United Way.
With only 150 employees, the group was the third largest contributor to the county’s 2011 campaign with $36,176.
“The Arc of Walker County works every day to serve the people of Walker County, and they are an outstanding contributor to our campaign each year,” Shirah said. “We are thankful for how consistent they are in their giving.”
Shirah said Friday’s cookout was also a way to introduce Kevin Callahan as this year’s chairman for Walker County fundraising campaign. Callahan, general manager at Honda and Hyundai of Jasper, said he is honored to serve as chairman.
“I have seen what the United Way does in this county, and that is why I was happy to take on this responsibility,” Callahan said. “We get more dollars than we give to United Way, and their programs and impact are vital to Walker County.”
Callahan said Friday’s cookout was fun for him as he served as “head griller.” More than 150 Arc employees and clients were served Friday afternoon.
“I know my way around a grill, and it has been so much fun to serve these folks today,” he said. “This was a great way for us to give back to this group, because they always give so much.”
Joanna Brand, administrative director at the Arc of Walker County, said the group was thankful for the free lunch on Friday.
“We are so appreciative for this cookout,” Brand said. “It’s not every day that you get food cooked for you, and it was really good too. We couldn’t do what we do without the help of United Way, and we are thankful for all they do for us.”
Callahan said he was impressed by the Arc’s dedication to the fundraising campaign.
“They are definitely not the biggest group of contributors that we have, but most all their employees give a little,” he said. “That dedication is why we wanted to come out today. We want to focus this year on everybody giving a little. If everyone does that, we will have a tremendous campaign.”
Shirah said the goal for the Walker County campaign will not be announced until the official kickoff on Sept. 6 at the Community Health Systems Activities Center in downtown Jasper, but she knew the goal would exceed $1 million.
“We’ve been able to raise more than $1 million each of the last two years, and we want to exceed that this year,” she said.