How does an organization celebrate a century of community service? If that organization is the Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), it’s done by kicking off that 100th year with the culmination of the Community of Lights Centennial Campaign. When the five-year campaign concludes on May 6, it will have raised more than $1.25 million for the One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center.
As its name suggests, One Place provides coordinated services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. From its offices on Birmingham’s Southside, representatives of the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, YWCA of Central Alabama, the Crisis Center Inc.’s Rape Response services and the Birmingham Police Department work together to ensure the availability and effectiveness of a comprehensive range of services. Previously housed in the basement of the District Attorney’s office, One Place moved into its own building in 2017, when the JLB committed to making the lead gift to acquire and renovate it.
The Community of Lights Centennial Campaign was created as an innovative means of fulfilling JLB’s commitment to One Place. According to the League’s point person for the campaign, it was structured purposefully to build community awareness and generate broader impacts on “an issue that is pervasive in our community, our state, and throughout the country.”
“It was critical to engage the whole community,” said Lindsey Tanner, chair of the Community of Lights Campaign. “We wanted to meet this need not only by raising money, but by doing it in a way that increases awareness of an issue that affects the whole community.”
To achieve that goal, JLB initially identified 20 “Torchbearers,” each tasked with activating donations from their professional and personal networks – and encouraging those potential donors to learn more about One Place. At the end of the first year, and each succeeding year, torches were “passed” to a new group of 20 Torchbearers (21 for the 2021 campaign), further extending awareness of One Place and its mission.
Since 2017, a total of 101 local Torchbearers have combined to put the Community of Lights campaign on pace to meet and exceed its $1.25 million goal. As impactful as the amount of funding raised, Tanner noted, is that the Torchbearers ultimately activated more than 6,000 individual donors.
“That’s powerful,” Tanner declared. “What our Torchbearers have led the way in accomplishing will continue to have significant impacts on our community’s collective success in dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault. The community is more aware and engaged now than it was five years ago.”
Alabama Power is among the local companies that have supported Community of Lights, with five executives serving as Torchbearers. Starting with 2017, they are (current positions): Leigh Davis, vice president of Economic and Community Development; Terry Smiley, vice president, Eastern Division; Amoi Geter, director of Corporate Communication at Nicor Gas; Tequila Smith, vice president of Charitable Giving; and 2021 Torchbearer Staci Brooks, director of Marketing Communication. The Alabama Power Foundation also provided support to the Community of Lights campaign.
“Alabama Power has a long history of supporting efforts that meet needs at the local level,” Brooks said. “Our support of One Place and the Junior League’s Community of Lights multiyear campaign is one way we are helping address critical community issues and hopefully making the road to recovery a little smoother for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
“At Southern Company, we understand how basic services form the critical foundation of our lives,” said Armstrong. “Only when our core needs are satisfied are we free to make the most of our lives, and One Place contributes to that by making it possible for women and children to have a safe, stable home life, free from abuse.
“When I think about more than 6,000 people working together to fund the Family Justice Center, I am in awe of what can be accomplished when generosity fuels commitment to a long-term goal.”
Culmination of the Community of Lights campaign is the first of numerous events that will mark JLB’s 100th year of service. A volunteer organization with a membership of approximately 2,300 women, JLB promotes and supports activities for developing the potential of women and improving the community through effective action led by trained volunteers. Each year, it provides funding and resources in support of more than 30 community projects, addressing issues that, in addition to domestic violence, include literacy, health education and financial literacy.
“We want to help create solutions to hard issues,” Community of Lights Chair Tanner said. “We’re here to evaluate needs and pull together the resources to address them. That’s been our role for nearly 100 years and will continue to be our role in the future.”