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  • GiveBack: A Souring Sense of Community

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    Learn how Faulkner University’s commitment to its community is earning an A+ with one local school.
    When Mike Williams stepped into the role of Faulkner University’s eighth president in June 2015, one of his first priorities was to ensure Faulkner was deeply embedded in its community. To Williams, it made sense to carry out that commitment by linking arms with a local school.
    He shared that vision with Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange in one of his first visits to the capital city, and the mayor immediately connected Williams with Camille Anderson-Finley, Director, Family and Community Engagement for Montgomery Public Schools. After a series of conversations, Anderson-Finley identified Davis Elementary as a school that would benefit. A partnership quickly began taking shape.
    “One of the things that we talked about before we ever stepped foot on the Davis Elementary campus was that we are not the cavalry coming in with all the answers,” said Williams. “We started with the goal of listening to better under-stand the needs of this community.” Through interviews with parents and teachers, Faulkner’s leaders became aware of the school’s biggest needs. One came as a surprise to Williams and his staff — parents asked for help parenting. Teachers, on the other hand, needed help providing nurturing relationships, positive role models and mentors for their students.
    With these things in mind, the university began planning some special events. The first was a “Welcome Back” pep rally for Davis Elementary students on the first day of school in 2015. Faulkner athletes, cheerleaders, band members and even the Faulkner mascot, Baldwin the Eagle, stood along the sidewalks and hallways of the school, high-fiving, clapping and cheering for students as they walked into the building. “You could see the students’ faces just light up,” said Stacy Robinson-Williams, Davis Elementary’s Technology Coordinator. “The support they have given us — our whole school— it just means so much.”
    The pep rally has become a beloved annual tradition. Faulkner also hosts movie nights at the school, a Christmas celebration for students and families and a Fall Festival. For that event, the entire Davis Elementary student body is bused to Faulkner’s campus for a day of fun with arts and crafts, games and hay rides. “When they see the Faulkner students coming, the kids jump to their feet. They are excited and can’t wait for them to come to their class,” said Davis’ Interim Principal Janice Harvey. “They love the one-on-one interaction with the students.”
    Through the coordination of Faulkner’s Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Leslie Cowell, faculty members also help teachers inside the classroom. Recently, they carried out two days of STEM programming at Davis, emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
    In addition, Faulkner students mentor school children during and after school. “We learned that dozens of students were standing around after school for an hour to an hour and a half. We developed a program where Faulkner students sign up as mentors to come to Davis from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and hang out with kids,” said VP of Student Services Jean-Noel Thompson, who co-co-ordinates the after-school programming between Davis and Faulkner with Ander-son-Finley. “Sometimes it’s to read books, and other times it involves crafts or activities. The main thing is, they get to know and encourage these kids after school. It’s about the relationships.”
    While Faulkner started the partnership to positively impact the school and community, the college students have immensely benefited from it as well. “Last year’s point guard Marquis Grays was so dedicated to this program,” said Williams. “If he wasn’t on the basketball court or in class, he was here. When I thanked him for all he’d done, he said, ‘Oh, I am the one that is blessed.’ Another student told me that this has been one of the most transformative experiences of her education.”
    Williams believes Faulkner’s students are learning things that can’t be taught in a college lecture hall. What’s more, he said, they’re seeing what it truly means to be a part of a community. “They see that there are no quick fixes, and things can’t be changed overnight,” he said. “What a great learning experience to come back and say, ‘How does a community get better? It is when we all attack the problem together.’ We can say all that every day in a classroom, but until they come and experience it in real life, it is theoretical.”
    Now nearly four years old, this mutually beneficial partnership will keep going and keep bringing rewards to all involved. Williams hopes it inspires other groups, organizations and businesses to do something similar. “We hope to positively impact a generation of students and beyond,” he said. “It
    is not just community service. It is not just service-learning. It is taking our students and saying – ‘God has blessed you. How can you be a part of a solution?’”
    GiveBack Briefs

    Jackson Thornton Celebrates 100 Years

    Jackson Thornton, a certified public accounting and consulting firm, is celebrating two big milestones in 2019: its 100th birthday and the roll-out of a new corporate brand identity and tagline across all its entities.
    Jackson Thornton was founded in 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama, which remains the location of the firm’s corporate headquarters. In honor of its centennial, Jackson Thornton’s staff will celebrate with a special year of giving back in each of the communities it serves. “As we begin our second century, we wanted a way to show our appreciation to the communities who have been so welcoming of us,” said Ned Sheffield, President and Managing Principal of Jackson Thornton. “We thought what better way to say thank you than to donate our time, talents and gifts to worthy organizations across our service areas.”
    Jackson Thornton’s 200-plus person team kicked off its “100 Years | 100 Acts of Service” by packing more than 34,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger. The firm is evaluating additional large-scale opportunities in its service areas with many smaller service projects already completed.
    River Bank & Trust’s Contribution to River Region United Way Exceeds $50,000

    River Bank & Trust announced that this year’s River Region United Way Campaign contribution will total $53,347.53. Since the community bank’s opening in 2006, corporate and employee contributions total over $330,000. “The generosity of our team demonstrates our commitment to make life better for
    our friends and neighbors in the communities we serve,” said River Bank’s CEO Jimmy Stubbs. “With our success comes a responsibility to share a portion of our blessings with those who are less fortunate. Supporting the River Region United Way and its 40 + affiliate agencies, provides us with a wonderful avenue to do that.”
    MAX Supports Wetumpka Disaster Relief

    To provide disaster relief for those affected by the January 19 tornado in Wetumpka, MAX associates held a supply drive for the Elmore County Food Bank and made a donation of $5,000 to the Central Alabama Community Foundation and its Wetumpka Tornado Relief Fund. With the support of the community, more than 650 items were collected during the supply drive. Items collected were delivered to the food bank by MAX associates on February 28.
    “At MAX, giving back to the communities we serve comes in various forms. We are committed to making our communities better and to provide support when it is needed most,” said Community Relations and Foundation Coordinator Brooke Foster.
    Regions Foundation Announces Donations Supporting Tornado Recovery

    In late January, the Regions Foundation, a nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank dedicated to supporting a wide range of community investments, announced a donation of $10,000 to the Central Alabama Community Foundation (CACF) to support immediate and long-term recovery efforts organized by CACF following the EF-2 tornado that destroyed parts of Wetumpka on January 19.
    “Regions Bank and the Regions Foundation are committed to serving and supporting our communities during both good times and bad,” said Arthur DuCote, Montgomery Market Executive for Regions Bank.
    “Wetumpka is a special place in the River Region. We are proud to be a part of this community, and we will stand with our customers and fellow community members throughout the recovery from the storms.”
    Just over a month later, the bank stepped up again, this time announcing a donation of $25,000 to support immediate and long-term recovery efforts following an EF-4 tornado that destroyed areas in Beauregard, Smiths Station and nearby communities.
    “Regions Bank and the Regions Foundation are committed to supporting our communities,” said Rett Moncrief, Auburn-Opelika Market Executive for Regions Bank. “Regions is proud to be a part of these communities, and we will stand with our neighbors throughout the recovery process.”
    Balch & Bingham Aids Local School

    As Booker T. Washington Magnet High School rebuilds from the tragic fire that destroyed most of its facilities, one Montgomery law firm was honored to lend a helping hand. Balch & Bingham’s Montgomery office worked with the school’s law classes to offer insights and resources to the next generation of lawyers.
    Balch was honored to present the class with funds to send the school’s first-ever mock trial team to the YMCA’s statewide Youth Judicial Program. The firm also connected BTW with a LexisNexis subscription and collected books to rebuild the classroom’s library in an effort to maximize the legal resources available for the students. Balch partner Kelly Pate spoke to a group of students with legal aspirations, discussing life as an attorney, pro bono work and how to create a path to law school.

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