Amy Badham, director of Service Learning and Undergraduate Research, was honored as Volunteer of the Year at the Hands On Birmingham IGNITE Awards in April. Hands On Birmingham, the volunteer arm of United Way of Central Alabama, sponsors the awards to recognize and celebrate outstanding volunteer service in the community.

Amy Badham, director of Service Learning and Undergraduate Research, was honored as Volunteer of the Year at the Hands On Birmingham IGNITE Awards in April. Hands On Birmingham, the volunteer arm of United Way of Central Alabama, sponsors the awards to recognize and celebrate outstanding volunteer service in the community.

Badham spent her youth watching her parents volunteer with community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross and the local food bank. This award, she says, reminds her of her family, who raised her to work within her community to address social issues.

In her role, Badham helps connect UAB students, faculty and community nonprofit partners to enrich student academic learning, promote civic engagement and strengthen and support local and global communities. The Volunteer of the Year award, Badham says, demonstrates the true strength of UAB’s relationships in Birmingham — a core component of Forging the Future, UAB’s strategic plan.

“It shows that UAB is deeply committed to working with its community partners,” she continued.

Badham says the award doesn’t highlight just her work, or work within the Office of Service Learning and Undergraduate Research; rather, it shows just how committed UAB is as a whole to community partnerships and volunteerism. For example, UAB’s AmeriCorps VISTAs participate in a year-long service and leadership program focused on developing projects to increase student and faculty involvement in education, health and economic opportunity initiatives in collaboration with Birmingham schools and other community-based organizations.

“It is the whole body of work that UAB’s Faculty Fellows in Engaged Scholarship complete with their classes every semester,” she said. “It is the significant impact that UAB employees have through the Benevolent Fund both within the UAB community and on the broader central Alabama community; it is the difference that our 15 AmeriCorps VISTAs, many of whom are students doing a gap year, make every day during their year of service working with the community on issues including opioid prevention and education, food security and educational equity.”

Outside of Badham’s work with UAB, she has spent a significant amount of time volunteering with the Donaldson Prison Lecture Series at the maximum-security Donaldson Correctional Facility near Bessemer, Alabama. The series is an innovative collaboration between UAB employees and Alabama Department of Corrections staff; UAB employees give bimonthly talks at the prison, which is one of 15 correctional facilities in the state and one of just two maximum-security prisons in Alabama.

“The time I’ve spent volunteering at the Donaldson Correctional Facility as part of the 35-year-and-counting lecture series has had the greatest impact on me,” Badham said. “I was mostly unaware of the lack of educational opportunities available within Alabama’s correctional facilities. Spending time with students on the inside has convinced me like never before that education is a human right and that stoking curiosity and making connections leads to fulfillment.”