Discover out about one partnership that meant actual help for Birmingham throughout the pandemic

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YWCA and TruistMaria Underwood, YWCA and Helen McDougald, Truist. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

YWCA Central Alabama is dedicated to eradicating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Truist is the sixth largest bank in the US and is dedicated to making a difference in the communities they serve. Find out how these two organizations worked together during the pandemic and how they both improved.

Meet Helen McDougald, Commercial Banker at Truist and YWCA Junior Board Member

Helen McDougald from TruistHelen McDougald from Truist. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

McDougald was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in finance in 2011, she joined one of Truist’s predecessor companies.

McDougald manages commercial customer relationships in the greater Birmingham area. In her role, she coordinates with internal partners to provide ideas and solutions that will help companies achieve their goals.

McDougald and the YWCA go way back

  • YWCA playgroundThe outdoor playground at the YWCA in the city center. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now
  • Indoor classroom, YWCAIndoor classroom in downtown YWCA. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

In high school, McDougald helped with the YWCA’s after-school program in downtown Birmingham. When she moved back to The Magic City, she wanted to join the community, so she returned to the organization she loved – the YWCA.

She is currently a member of the organization’s junior board and committee for KIDS Corner, an annual event that supports the child development center.

According to Maria Underwood, YWCA Vice President for Development and Social Impact, the Junior Board deals with all facets of the organization, including:

  • The child development center
  • Teacher Recognition Week
  • Mother’s Day
  • Work for social justice
  • And more

“The YWCA is doing a great job in our community. I especially appreciate the work they do to provide education for children from homeless and low-income families.

This educational work, especially in early childhood, changes the lives of many children who would be in a completely different situation without the possibilities of the Y. “

Helen McDougald, Truist

Meet Maria Underwood, Vice President, Development and Social Impact at YWCA Central Alabama

Maria Underwood YWCAMaria Underwood from the YWCA. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Maria Underwood is a fundraiser with an impressive track record. She has worked with a number of organizations in Birmingham and Washington, DC.

We spoke with Helen McDougald and Maria Underwood about what makes the Truist-YWCA partnership unique and why it matters. Here’s what they told us.

Truist partnered with the YWCA in three ways during the pandemic:

  • Youth Board: Helen McDougald’s service continues to affect various programs of the nonprofit organization.
  • Grant from the Truist Foundation: The grant enabled the YWCA to invest in technology infrastructure.
  • Lighthouse project: In November 2020, a team of 10 from Truist, along with YWCA staff, distributed Thanksgiving meals to approximately 200 families cared for by the YW.

Learn more about Truist, who they are and what they do on their website.

Giving something back to the community: Truist’s Lighthouse Projects

Thanks to the YWCATruist served Thanksgiving to those involved with the downtown YWCA. Photo via YWCA Central Alabama

Lighthouse projects are one of the most important ways Truist gives something back. Groups of employees volunteer time and company resources to devote to a project relevant to their area.

McDougald says these projects are a great way to join teammates in doing something positive in the communities where Truist works.

For the Truist volunteers, Thanksgiving was a highlight of a difficult time.

“2020 was a challenging year for everyone, so it was particularly special for two reasons:

1. Being with colleagues, many of whom we hadn’t seen in person in months.

2. Providing food to families so they can make memories after a tough year. “

Helen McDougald, Truist

The difference that this type of support makes: the view from the YWCA

Thanksgiving with Truist at the YWCAThanks to the YWCA. Photo via YWCA Central Alabama

Maria Underwood particularly appreciates the holistic character of the partnership between YWCA and Truist.

“Donating meals, volunteering, serving on governing bodies, providing grants and sponsorship … Truist helps us holistically in a way that includes every part of us.

It’s nice to have partners you can go to and who know that they will do whatever they can to help and support you when you need it.

During COVID we had a lot of organizations willing to volunteer with us, but we couldn’t get people into our room. Truist said, “We want to do something – you tell us what you need and we will find out.”

They really stepped in to make sure our families and our organization are supported even during COVID. Your support has not wavered with the events of the world. “

All in one day-to-day business: Truist at the service of the communities

children Children in downtown YWCA. Photo via YWCA Central Alabama

While Truist’s partnership with YWCA is unique in the manner Underwood mentioned, for McDougald it is an integral part of the company’s business.

“Truist is a purpose-driven organization that makes decisions that support our purpose of ‘building better lives and communities.’

It takes a concerted effort from our teammates to achieve this, and that starts with local engagement in our communities, both through volunteer work and funding.

It comes back to using all of our resources to work with organizations that are doing a great job of making our communities a better place to live. “

Want to learn more about Truist? Visit theirs website or follow them further LinkedIn or Instagram.

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