Living Your Values by Swinging a Hammer

Living Your Values by Swinging a Hammer

Mission Makers

Brought to you by: Community Partner Aho Architects, LLC, www.ahoarch.com 

April is National Volunteer Month, and in recognition of this issue’s theme of “Ways You Can Serve,” Community Partner Aho Architects, LLC would like to tell its story in the hope that it will encourage and inspire others to find similar ways to serve our community.

Several times a year, since 2011, we have closed our office, and all spent a work day building homes with Habitat for Humanity.  These “Habitat Build Days” have become a favorite way we live out our mission “To use our gifts in service to others, create things greater than ourselves, and build God’s Kingdom.” (see 1 John 3:17-18)

“Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity is a great way to express our love for God and man through action and deed.  Our team at Aho Architects has truly been blessed and we are grateful for the opportunity to bless others in return.”

– April Cain, Vice President/Sr. Interior Designer

Often, we work alongside the future homeowner and with other volunteers from Riverchase United Methodist Church. Through the years we have participated in every phase of Habitat home construction. Sometimes that has involved arriving in the chill of the morning to see an empty slab and a pile of lumber, spending the day framing walls, and leaving that afternoon with the satisfaction of seeing a home take shape. At other times, we’ve painted, laid tile, assembled and installed cabinets, installed siding and porch ceilings, and shingled roofs. We’ve also framed LOTS of decks and stairs! At one point, we began to wonder if Habitat was specifically assigning us that work.

“Serving through Habitat for Humanity is also an incredible teamwork activity. Some teams do off-sites and build trust by closing their eyes and falling backward into each other’s arms. We do it by passing 65-pound shingle bundles up a ladder to teammates on a roof. Talk about building trust! And, at the end of the day, a deserving family is closer to having their own home with the comfort, security, and stability it brings.”

Tim Aho, President/CEO

Aside from the team-building aspects of this volunteerism, in our case it also makes us better architects. We believe it is a good idea for an architect to swing a hammer from time to time and to deal with the realities of construction depicted in our blueprints. Since the day members of our team wore space suits and installed crawlspace insulation, we have great appreciation for people who do that kind of work every day!

“From being a college student helping put a new roof on a house to hanging blinds on a company Habitat Day, these experiences have influenced my life and who I am today. Working with Habitat gives us the opportunity to use our God given talents and serve others.”

Amanda Morris, Sr. Architect

We encourage you and your team to find a way to serve. It will strengthen your team and bless you immeasurably. Come join us sometime! If you would like to know more, please do not hesitate to contact us www.ahoarch.com (205) 983-6000 or Greater Birmingham Habitat for Humanity directly at www.habitatbirmingham.org (205) 780-1234.†

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Finding Your Place to Serve: Christian’s Place Mission

Finding Your Place to Serve: Christian’s Place Mission

Mission Makers

Brought to you by: Community Partner Tom Douglass, TomDouglassRealtor.com

Since its beginnings in December 2008, Christian’s Place Mission has served nearly 31,000 people in the Nauvoo area. Join volunteers in helping every third Saturday of the month.

“Christian’s Place Mission (CPM) is an organization founded on God’s love and hopes to teach everyone to fish,” explains Tom Douglass, a long-time volunteer of the non-profit ministry based in Nauvoo, Ala. Most of the residents in the rural Winston/Walker County live well below the poverty line and are at least a 20-minute drive from schools and healthy food options. Of the minority of residents that own a vehicle, the majority don’t have the money for gas. In 2008, Carole Newman came to the area to play the piano at Nauvoo United Methodist Church(UMC) and left with a heavy heart for the people of the community. The ministry began when she decided to feed a family of five. “I can’t tell you how many miracles I have seen since then,” says Newman who writes grants and coordinates volunteers and still plays the piano at the church!

Every third Saturday morning of the month, CPM volunteers converge upon Nauvoo UMC to give out food and clothing to about 450 people and get to know them. The ministry also offers medical services like eye and dental care. One of the volunteers described his Saturday experience this way. “The Holy Spirit was alive and well in that place.” Douglass adds how his desire to find a place to serve led him to CPM. “I was in search of something and no matter what I tried, it just didn’t seem to be the right fit. Then one day I was introduced to CPM. I was volunteering with friends from Sunday School. Finally, it appeared that all my experiences and skills I’d accumulated appeared to be of use. That was a few years ago; and still it’s the same. I am blessed more by helping others than they are by my helping; it’s humbling.” Douglass and other volunteers are spearheading a building project to provide a better facility to house food and clothing items and offer educational opportunities.

To learn more about CPM visit www.christiansplacemission.com, find them on Facebook @Christians Place Mission or call 205-410-7029. The ministry especially needs monetary donations and work/casual clothes. Another quick, easy way you can help is www.smile.amazon.com.  Amazon donates .5% of the price of eligible Amazon Smile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Search and choose “Christian’s Place Mission.”

-Brought to you by: Community Partner, Tom Douglass, Brik Realty, Realtor

2901 2nd Ave S #230, Birmingham, 35233

205-999-2780, tdoug@tdrepro.com

TomDouglassRealtor.com

Member www.Convenenow.com

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

National Christian Foundation Alabama Turns 10

National Christian Foundation Alabama Turns 10

Mission Makers

A Celebration of Generosity: National Christian Foundation Alabama Turns 10

The recent 10 Year Celebration of NCF Alabama included a comedic message from Dr. Dennis W. Swanberg, “America’s Minister of Encouragement.”

After retiring from the food brokerage business in 2008, Birmingham’s Tom Bradford felt God calling him to use his gifts to establish The National Christian Foundation (NCF) Alabama, an affiliate of NCF, the largest Christian Foundation in the country.  He was later joined by his son Jim Bradford and they have been serving givers for 10 years now. “I thought my purpose was to raise money for the Kingdom, but I discovered my main purpose should be to change people’s lives, “said Tom Bradford as he addressed supporters at a recent NCF Alabama 10th Anniversary celebration. “One main portal of changing lives is giving- establishing a network to encourage each other to be generous givers.”

Over the last ten years, NCF Alabama has inspired giving that has exceeded $155 million in charitable grants to more than 2900 civic, educational and religious organizations. With the mission of “mobilizing resources by inspiring biblical generosity,” NCF Alabama has gone from serving 12 families in 2008 to serving more than 600 Alabama families with donor advised funds for their charitable giving. “Our goal is to simplify your giving [by use of the internet], to multiply your impact [by smarter use of the tax codes], to glorify God [by releasing more resources into the Kingdom],” explains Bradford. “It is a great way to manage and keep track of your charitable giving. There is no minimum amount to open a fund and no minimum amount to keep in the fund.” A couple of other unique aspects to an NCF Donor Advised Fund compared to other donor advised funds is that NCF monitors all grants that go out to be sure they meet Christian standards and all fees associated with your fund go to a Christian ministry, NCF.

Tom Bradford, Chairman of the Board and President of NCF Alabama and his son Jim Bradford, V.P. of NCF Alabama, address the crowd at the 10th Anniversary Celebration, www.ncfgiving.com/alabama.

“Wherever you are in your journey of generosity, just get in the game!” says Jim Bradford referencing his favorite verse from 2 Corinthians 9:7, “…God loves a cheerful giver.” He adds, ““At NCF we seek to help our donors walk closer to the Lord and be cheerful givers, that’s WHY we do what we do.” To find out how a donor advised fund could make sense for you and your family, visit www.ncfgiving.com/Alabama or call Jim Bradford at 205-563-2388.

  • Laurie Stroud

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

The Woman Driving McDowell Security: Candyce McDowell

The Woman Driving McDowell Security: Candyce McDowell

Faith at Work

Candyce McDowell along with her husband Jeff founded McDowell Security in 2010. They started with 4 employees and now have a staff of about 170, www.mcdowellsecure.com.

Husband and wife teams in business are nothing new, but often-times one gets overshadowed when the business breaks out. As the President of Birmingham based McDowell Security, Jeff McDowell is the face of the business and the one you see quoted most often. However, Jeff is quick to tell you that he wouldn’t be on a Top 40 list or Shelby Chamber Small Business Award winner if it wasn’t for his wife, Candyce McDowell. “There have been so many times I was truly ready to quit,” said Jeff. “But Candyce was the one who said, ‘No – not now’. She has had my back in so many ways I can’t even count them. She keeps us focused on our faith and using that as the foundation for everything. If God and your family are your focus – you can’t go wrong.”

Candyce is modest about her involvement, but admits, she would never let Jeff back off building the business. “I knew and understood what he wanted to do, and what his vision was for McDowell Security. I knew if he backed off at any moment he would regret it,” said Candyce. “In the beginning, I just helped with general office management. I have knack for organization. That led to me helping coordinate the staffing for events.”

On any given day Candyce performs a number of rolls; organizer, manager, fill-in event security – you name it Candyce has helped with it. “McDowell Security has grown so fast, Jeff and I both feel like we are on a treadmill 24/7, but it’s worth it. Our kids are learning that entrepreneurship has its benefits and its drawbacks. We don’t hide the ups and downs from them. We feel it’s important for them to understand that owning a business is hard work.”

What’s next for Jeff and Candyce? Jeff says they are focused on continuing to grow the business and provide more jobs in the community. “The overwhelming part of owning a business is knowing that if you, as the owner, make a mistake, you just don’t lose money, people could lose their jobs,” said Jeff. “My employees rely on me to lead the way so that they can take care of their families. It’s a huge responsibility that I don’t take lightly.”

Due to their rapid growth McDowell Security is hiring, full and part-time staff. You don’t need to have previous guard experience, in fact, the company prefers applicants to have retail experience and be customer focused. They train employees in the areas of security based on the position. Visit www.mcdowellsecure.com and fill out an online application.

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Working Together to Help Others: Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School

Working Together to Help Others: Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School

Education Extra

Service projects are one of the ways students at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School use their time and talents to help others in the community.

Helping others in the community and around the world is a vital part of the lives of the students and faculty at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School (OLS). Each school year, the entire school works in a variety of ways to live their Christian faith by reaching out to those in need. These bright young children along with their dedicated teachers give of their time, talents, and treasures to people who are less fortunate. In the Fall of 2017, the students began their community service with a special fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. In addition, they donated shoe boxes filled with basic needed items and donated them to the Cross Catholic Outreach’s “Box of Joy” program for poverty-stricken children in underprivileged countries. Annually, the Christmas holidays is always a special time for the school. During the recent holiday season, the school came together to participate in more than nine separate projects through charitable donations and acts of service. Each grade worked on a specific endeavor that ranged from visiting a nursing home to collecting toys for children in need.

“Participating in different projects allows our students firsthand experience in sharing with those in need,” said OLS Principal Mary Jane Dorn. “It is a great opportunity for the children to learn how they can help those in our community, as well as those in other parts of the world by working together to share our Christian faith through service,” she said.

For the remainder of the school year, some OLS future projects include the “Let’s Make a Change” donation during Catholic Schools Week where the children and teachers collect change. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother supporting the mission community in Ecuador. In addition, during Lent they will collect food for area families and give it to the Birmingham Catholic Center of Concern to distribute. On a larger scale, they may also choose to bring monetary donations for the Missionary Childhood Association for children across the globe. “We are always excited to help others through our donations and service as a school,” said Mrs. Dorn. “We are blessed every day, and we take joy in sharing our blessings with others by working together as a school community.” Learn more about Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School at www.olsschool.com or call 205-879-3237.

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

101 Mobility: Improving Lives in Our Community

101 Mobility: Improving Lives in Our Community

Faith at Work

Owners of 101 Mobility Alabama, Derek and Ashley Gann, with their children Reagan and D.C. at their 101 Mobility office on Highway 280 near Greystone.

Birmingham Christian Family recently sat down with 101 Mobility of Alabama’s Derek Gann who shared with us how God is using his team to serve others in our community.

Q. How does owning 101 Mobility allow you to live out your faith in the marketplace?

A. As business owners, our main objective is to serve: to serve our customers, community and our employees. My wife Ashley and I believe that emulating the traits of Christ is our greatest earthly calling. From owning a business, to leading my family, and rearing our children, it all points to Jesus. Because 101 Mobility focuses on improving life, what a ministry! We get the opportunity to help people navigate through a difficult and often fragile time. When families and individuals are faced with circumstances that are often beyond their control whether it’s the reality of aging parents, a tragic accident that claims one’s mobility, or a family member with a disability it is easy to feel discouraged or broken. That’s the beauty of Jesus and what we get to do as owners of 101 Mobility. We get to be a part of restoring others. We can bring back some hope and dignity. We make the days ahead easier than the days before. 101 Mobility provides mobility devices to help individuals regain that independence. We help families live longer in their homes and provide free face to face consultations that help guide customers through all their options and what works best for their needs.

Q. How does your faith impact how you run your business?

A. Simply put, our faith drives us. Each day we remind ourselves that all that we do on this side of eternity should all point to the greatness of Jesus. Even leading up to the decision to become business owners, every day was filled with prayer. We asked for wisdom, discernment and direction. Ashley and I feel that God has led us to right where we are and we must be faithful stewards of what we’ve been given. We think the greatest leader of all time is Jesus and we try daily to replicate those traits. Our faith doesn’t mean our business is void of difficult decisions or tough calls, but our faith guides us and reassures us of our purpose. We strongly believe that you have to have vision and our vision is to love our customers well, build strong community relationships, and provide top-notch service. These goals are all predicated on our faith and our hope to be a glimmer of light in what can be a dimmer time in one’s life.

Q. What is the most rewarding aspect of the business to you?

A. No question, the most rewarding aspect of our business is being able to give someone a new lease on life. No one wants to wake up
and discover they can no longer walk up their stairs or get around their house like they used to. So, when 101 Mobility can design a plan, unique to your needs, that gives you that freedom and independence back, it fills our heart and reminds us that each time a job is done, we’ve left one life a little better. The greatest gifts in life are truly the ones we give, not the ones we get. We are blessed to provide mobility devices that give back joy, that give back freedom, that give back hope. The stories we hear from the customers we serve can often leave tears in our own eyes, so being able to restore something that has been lost is the greatest reward of all.

-Learn more at www.Alabama.101Mobility.com or call 205-538-5692.†

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Lending a Helping Hand: Habitat for Humanity & Wells Fargo

Lending a Helping Hand: Habitat for Humanity & Wells Fargo

Mission Makers

As a part of a national effort to improve the homes of Veterans across the country, Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham and Wells Fargo volunteers recently teamed up to improve the homes of two local Army veterans. “We all share a common interest and passion to serve those who served our country,” said Richard Busby, Wells Fargo V.P. and Senior Community Dev. Officer in Mid South Region. “This is a tangible way to show our gratitude and bring community together.” Established in 1987, Habitat Birmingham is a nonprofit Christian housing ministry serving Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker Counties. The organization is dedicated to making quality, affordable housing solutions available to low-income families. Learn more at www.habitatbirmingham.org

Volunteers focus on exterior repairs and painting at the homes of veterans living in Bessemer and East Lake.

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

UAB Football’s Bill Clark

UAB Football’s Bill Clark

Back in the Game

“There’s bringing it back and there’s bringing it back the right way. I think we’re bringing it back the right way,” says Bill Clark of the reinstated football program at UAB. The Blazers game on Sept. 2 at Legion Field marks the first since the program was eliminated in 2014. Photos Courtesy UAB Athletics

When the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) discontinued its football program in 2014, Bill Clark had just completed his first season as head coach with a 6-6 record that made his team eligible for its first bowl appearance since 2004. What seemed like a giant step in the right direction for the program was followed by the University declaring the sport fiscally unsustainable. This was a devastating blow for the coach, his team and the community, but it wasn’t long before Birmingham businesspeople, alumni and former players began to rally: Blazers football will return. “Obviously it was tough, but to watch those people fight for us made me want to stick around and help them make a difference,” Clark remembers. “One of the things that I always wanted was to be a part of making a difference in a community or a school. That’s the stuff I’ve always loved.” Raising more than $44 million to fund both the program and new operations facilities, the team kicks off the 2017 season with a game against the Alabama A&M Bulldogs at Legion Field on Sept. 2. Clark celebrates the victory by reflecting on how his small-town upbringing and lessons in faith led him to the life he leads today.

A Passion for the Game. Clark jokes it was an air conditioner that first influenced him to fall in love with football. The son of a high school coach, the only way for him to get cool in his Ohatchee, Ala. home was to hang out in the room with the window unit A/C, which also happened to the office where his father watched films to prep for upcoming practices and games. “That was where I liked to hang out, for obvious reasons, and spend time with him. I loved everything about the sport,” he says. “I loved the strategy. I loved the interaction with the players. I loved game nights. I loved pregame speeches. I think everything that went with it, I enjoyed, and I just knew that’s what I always wanted to do.”

Grounded in Faith. Clark’s family eventually moved to Piedmont, Ala., where his father took another coaching job. His mother was a home economics teacher who played piano at the local church. “It was a simple childhood growing up, just athletics and church and school,” he remembers. “Most things revolved around the community… We were brought up that the church is just a part of everything you do. I was lucky in that—blessed I guess is the word—that’s just kind of who we were.” Life changed when Clark’s mother was killed in a car crash when he was 19 years old. Already studying physical education and history at Jacksonville State and starting his own coaching career, he moved back home with his father as they dealt with their loss. It’s an experience he draws on to this day when mentoring young men. “I tell guys all the time there’s always the why of why things happen. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t think that. One of the best people I had ever known—just as good a person as you’ll ever meet—was killed. That is when your faith is so important. That’s when you need it.” Clark says he never had any doubt that his mother’s resting place was in heaven. “That’s the faith that helps us go on.”

Dream Come True. Clark’s first head coaching job was at Prattville High School, where his players were awarded 106 wins and only 11 losses during his tenure. They won back-to-back Alabama High School Athletic Association State Championships for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. In 2008 Clark began coaching at the college level as defensive coordinator at the University of South Alabama until 2012. He then spent one season as head coach at Jacksonville State University before he was hired at UAB.

Coach Bill Clark and wife Jennifer with their children at daughter Katie’s October 2016 marriage to son-in-law Justin Spinks. Son Jacob Clark is a Redshirt Freshman for Blazers football this year. Photo: CWF Photography

Seeing the Big Picture. Prepping for the return of Blazers football has not been a singular focus for Clark’s team. Joined by Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) staff, he leads the charge in giving back to the community that supports the program. Last year coaches and players teamed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham to become Big Brothers and mentors of males in middle and high school in the greater Birmingham community. Participating students were bussed from their schools once per month to spend time with their Big Brothers on the UAB campus. Clark also purchased and donated 100 season tickets to the upcoming season to the mentoring program. In June, Clark and more than 40 members of the UAB Football team helped construct a five-bedroom house as a part of Habitat for Humanity’s 30th Anniversary build in Pleasant Grove. “College age, sometimes it’s easy to just think about yourself, but when you get around Big Brothers Big Sisters or you are doing something for Habitat for Humanity, you realize this world is bigger than you and we are called to serve other people,” says Tavon Arrington, UAB Campus Director for FCA, which returned to campus with the help of Coach Clark and former UAB FCA Board Chairman Charlie Nowlin.

Observing his athletes both on and off the field, Clark says youth today are intelligent and tech savvy but still need the face-to-face effort that a team sport like football offers. “I don’t think kids have changed as much as our expectations have changed. These kids today are so smart. They’ve got access to so much information,” he says. “[However,] human interaction is so important, and that’s the great thing about athletics. It still requires the same things it required 10 years ago, 20 years ago. It takes each other, it takes a physical effort, and I think an emotional effort, which is what I love about football. It takes more than yourself. It is truly a team effort.”

Keeping Faith First. A member of Church of the Highlands with wife Jennifer, Clark says lately his faith has been centered on whether the fruits of his faith can be seen in his character and actions. “What do people see in us that tells them something is different? That can be hard for coaches. I know for players and myself, when you are in an ultracompetitive world where everything revolves around winning and losing, I have to remind myself of that.” As a couple, wife Jennifer explains that prayer helps keep them grounded in what matters most. “Praying together is important to us, and Christ is at the center of everything we do and every decision we make,” she says.

“I tell our players all the time, for sure I’m not perfect,” says Clark. “There was only one perfect One, but hopefully that’s something that people can see in our daily walk and how we carry ourselves. Hopefully they see that as something they want to be part of.”

  • Camille Platt

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Ministering in the Workplace

Ministering in the Workplace

Faith at Work

S.S. Nesbitt executive, Paul Barber, approaches his work as his ministry.

Richard Simmons founded the faith-based Center for Executive Leadership in Birmingham 17 years ago, to teach and mentor young men and leaders in the business community. From his first breakfast meeting with 60 men to more than 400 in attendance at those same breakfasts today, Simmon’s team has influenced countless numbers of men to approach their work as their ministry. “I am seeking to equip men in the workplace so they can go out and build up the body of Christ,” he says.

Throughout the years, Simmons has encouraged leaders to pray for God to open up opportunities for servant leadership within the workplace. “This is the way God designed the church to work,” he explains. One of those individuals Simmons encouraged was Paul Barber, who was recently tapped by EBSCO Industries as the new president of its insurance division, S.S. Nesbitt. After 25 years as an insurance executive with McGriff, Seibels & Williams, Barber retired and spent the past year working alongside Simmons to mentor young leaders. But then Barber felt drawn back to the workplace, back to the industry he knows so well and back to doing what he was teaching others to do. “Jesus was a small contractor—in the Jewish faith you became a man at 13, so he had 17 years to learn what it meant to love your neighbor as a businessman,” Barber explains. “Exercising our faith in the workplace by being good stewards of our gifts and giving our employers a good return on our investment are all things that are living the Christian life.”

Barber shares how the former CEO at Protective Life Insurance Company, Drayton Nabers, inspired his transition. Speaking at one of Simmon’s early morning breakfast meetings, Nabers recounted how he would begin each Monday morning with a group of other believers at the company in prayer, sharing scriptures that invoke the business world. “We would hit those key issues confronting us that week,” recalled Nabers of his time spent with employees in prayer. Nabers weekend prayer time included a more extensive prayer list, often naming up to 100 employees at a time.

“The best leaders are servant leaders,” Barber says. “My job here is to serve every employee as they serve our clients.” Simmons agrees. “Executives need Christ as much as anyone else does,” he says. “I tell guys all the time that the apostle Paul says to pray that God will open doors for service and I encourage them to do that.”

-Ann Marie Harvey

Vice President of Communications

Vertical Solutions Media

 

Fill your Facebook feed with more good news from Birmingham Christian Family!
Click the Like button below.

Pin It on Pinterest