By Monde M. Donaldson
Speaker: Rebecca Byrne
President and CEO/Community Foundation of South Alabama
“Moving Forward Together”
Invocation, Song Music and Pledge
Ken Robinson called the meeting to order. Rose Johnson gave the invocation.
Larry Sindel led the song and pledge. He was accompanied by Les Greer.
On behalf of the Club, Bob Chapelle awarded the distinction of Paul Harris fellow to Robert Edington. Robert spoke to the Rotary Club 50 years ago as a 15 year old and has been a servant leader to his country and the community throughout his distinguished life.
Rebecca Byrne gave an overview of the Community Foundation of South Alabama which will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. The Foundation has $70 million in assets and hopes to be to $90 million by 2019. There are 400 funds held there for the Southwest Alabama service area which includes Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia, Conecuh, Monroe, Clarke, Choctaw and Washington counties.
In the past year under Rebecca’s leadership, the Foundation staff and board members worked with community leaders to identify three initiatives – Veterans, Workforce Training and Young Philanthropy.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demanded unprecedented service from all armed services and all components of the military. Currently, there are over 60,000 veterans in the area. It is expected that by 2040 there will be over 500,000 veterans in our service area, she explained. During reintegration, returning service members face a variety of needs, including but not limited to job training, employment, health, housing assistance and education. These needs combined with stressors from military life and the culture shock of transitioning to civilian life can be overwhelming. When reintegration is unsuccessful, the consequences can be dire to the veteran, his/her family and the community. The Veterans Initiative will be a four year, $600,000 effort to identify and address the most pressing needs. In 2015, the Foundation will focus on engaging key community members to better understand the specific challenges facing veterans and to identify current services and service gaps, she said.
For more than a decade, Southwest Alabama has continued to grow as an advanced manufacturing region, and community leaders have discussed the concept of an advanced manufacturing training facility to meet the workforce needs of industry. As the area continues to attract more opportunities, this need is even more evident. She said area leaders have seen the benefit of aviation and maritime training facilities in producing a skilled workforce, but training needs for manufacturing transcend these two industries.
Young Philanthropy Initiative
This initiative inspires community involvement and cultivates a philanthropic culture among young adults in the eight-county service area. The Foundation seeks to identify innovative and collaborative efforts led by young professionals and encourage philanthropy among young adults. She closed by saying that in 2015, the Foundation will engage millennials in philanthropic learning opportunities and activities through targeted partnerships.
The meeting was adjourned.
By Monde M. Donaldson