River Region United Way (RRUW) is accepting donations now through the end of the year to support area nonprofits through its annual campaign.

The 2022 United Way Annual Campaign is a community fundraising drive to support community-based nonprofit agencies as they address the River Region's health, education, financial stability and basic needs.  

The theme of the 2022 effort is “Be a Champion in Your Community.” RRUW’s 2022 Annual Campaign is co-chaired by senior vice president and cash management officer with Servis First Bank, Delbert Madison and business manager with Alabama Power Ronda Cherry-Smoke. Madison is a Montgomery native, and Cherry-Smoke has lived in the River Region for over two decades. Both are members of the River Region United Way’s Board of Directors. 

"I am excited to kick off our 2022 Campaign,” Cherry-Smoke said. “Improving the quality of life for all takes a community effort. With challenges shaped by the pandemic, an increase in community needs and changes in the workplace, increased access to resources is critical to accomplishing the United Way’s community impact goals.” 

This year's annual campaign features new leadership at RRUW and a return to the organization's mission  focused on allocating community resources to those already serving the community. 

“As the United Way has been a part of my life since childhood, I am so honored and humbled to have been chosen as the president and CEO of the River Region United Way,” Jannah Morgan Bailey said. “With this responsibility, it is through personal and professional experience, commitment to our community, and desire to support the ongoing work of our community agency partners that this year’s annual campaign is so important. Be a champion for your  family, your friends, your neighbors and even for someone you may never meet.” 

To celebrate the launch of this year’s fundraising effort, the RRUW hosted a tailgate kickoff celebration for the organization’s donors, volunteers and supporters. Attendees had the opportunity to meet representatives of the United Way’s 42 affiliated community agencies and learned about their new projects and initiatives. 

Among RRUW’s community partners included David Lewis, the General Director and CEO of the Prattville YMCA. 

“The United Way has a legacy of support for nonprofits in the River Region that extends almost 100 years,” Lewis said. “This annual support to over 40 agencies helps empower them to do incredible work and improve the quality of life in our community for people of all ages.” 

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The first RRUW annual campaign was held in 1934. Since then, the United Way has allocated more than $220 million.

“Each year presents a renewed opportunity for the River Region United Way to focus on challenging  obstacles in areas of education, financial stability, health, and basic needs,” said W. Rhea Ingram, Ph.D., Chair and Chief Volunteer Officer, River Region United Way Board of Directors. "This year, I am excited about the collective energy felt throughout our communities. I encourage each of us, everyone in the River Region, to invest in the programs that are driving measurable progress against our most critical needs.” 

In addition to pooling community funding for area nonprofits to maximize the reach of every dollar raised,  RRUW provides its partners with professional development, technical assistance, and other community  support. This local-first approach ensures that those already doing the work to make the River Region a  better place to live, work, and raise a family have the resources they need to succeed. 

“The River Region United Way makes a huge impact for our agency and the child abuse victims and  families we serve,” said Emily Hutcheson, the assistant director/child forensic interview specialist for Butterfly Bridge, Children’s Advocacy Center. “For the first time in quite a while, we feel more connected to the RRUW and we know the future is bright because of that.” 

Margen Gadd, Director of Development for the River Region United Way shared, “With a front row seat, our desire to let the community know the importance of our Partner Agencies work in the community is a  necessity. We at the River Region United Way are in a dedicated pursuit to our purpose, one to be a  resource in our community and collectively support our Community Partner Agencies. With a focused team, community volunteers, I look forward to a successful 2022  campaign. I find it critical to share the impact our partnerships, (whether with donors or volunteers) make  to improve the lives of everyone in all our River Region communities, not just some and not just the people who may use our community partner agencies, but that we are all affected by the needs and  issues in our communities. We are connected by the needs in our communities and we will be connected  by the solutions. We need your help us move our mission forward.” 

There are several ways to participate in this year's annual campaign. Individuals can invest in their United Way through individual gifts or online contributions, an employee payroll deduction program “workplace campaign” or establishing a planned giving account. This includes outright gifts of cash and placing specific assets in a trust benefiting RRUW. Many River Region businesses also match employee gifts given during the campaign. For more information on how to participate, please contact RRUW's Director of Development, Margen Gadd, at mgadd@RRUW.org.  

The 2022 Annual Campaign will run through the end of the year. To learn more about the 2022 Annual  Campaign, including ways to donate, please visit www.rruw.org.  

RRUW serves Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon and Montgomery counties. To learn more, visit www.rruw.org.