Give help, hope during Benevolent Fund campaign

BenevolentFundLogo1 sizedUAB hopes to help "Build the Future Now" with its Benevolent Fund faculty and staff campaign. The campaign is currently underway and will run through the spring. This year's goal is $1.85 million, slightly more than the $1.82 million donation total from this past year.

Employee donations help support more than 120 local nonprofits and the Employee Emergency Assistance Program (EEAP). Agencies benefiting from the fund range from American Diabetes Association to the YMCA of Birmingham. A full list of nonprofits can be found online.

“It’s important for people to know that the dollars that we raise go into our local community,” said Lisa Higginbotham, UAB Benevolent Fund program manager. “And those organizations that we support, support UAB.”

“Every year, the agencies we support provide UAB $20-25 million in research grants,” said Provost Linda Lucas, Ph.D. “Additionally, our students reap immeasurable opportunities to grow through service-learning with these community partners. It is essential that we donate generously to those who play such a pivotal role in UAB’s continued success as well as the progress and well-being of our overall community.”

“The Benevolent Fund is our opportunity to show the social conscience that UAB employees have,” Higginbotham said.

Employees are encouraged to designate the agency to which they want to give. Undesignated funds support the EEAP, agencies without a designation code and administrative costs, which are approximately 7 percent; the remaining funds are distributed to local nonprofits.

The EEAP provides UAB, Callahan Eye Hospital, Viva, Health Services Foundation and Health System employees with confidential financial assistance. Employees must meet specific criteria to qualify for assistance. In 2013, 174 employees received $192,241 in direct assistance.

“Sometimes I think there are questions about whether the organizations that we support help our UAB employees, and I think we can say without a doubt that they do,” Higginbotham said. “In fact, I was really pleased and excited to find out that, during the past five years, Habitat for Humanity has built 34 houses that have impacted our UAB family.”

Raising a roof

Habitat sizedThis year the Benevolent Fund is tackling a new project by committing to building a house through Habitat for Humanity. Full sponsorship of a new house through the agency is $50,000.

“We’re really encouraging every UAB employee to make an additional one-time gift this year of $2.50, which would allow us to meet our goal of building the Habitat house,” Higginbotham said. “If every employee gave $5, we would build two houses.”

Employees can specifically designate their donation to benefit UAB’s Habitat House by using the code 581.

The house is scheduled to be built in October. Opportunities will be available to volunteer in groups and individually. Higginbotham said she does not yet know where the house will be built. More information will be available closer to the build date.

Deciding to give to the Benevolent Fund is a personal choice, Higginbotham said, and there are several options. Bi-weekly employees can give one hour of pay per month. Salaried employees can give 1 percent of pay per month. Or employees could give a fixed amount of their choice. Donations to the Benevolent Fund are made through payroll deductions.

“When I fill out my Benevolent Fund pledge form, and I give the gift amount that’s right for me and my family, then I know I’m doing my part,” Higginbotham said. “I know that what any of us can do individually pales in comparison to what UAB employees can do collectively.”