United Way Young Professionals raise funds with crawfish boil at Goat Island

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Freddie Day catering boiled up 500 lbs. of crawfish picked up fresh on the Gulf Coast by YP volunteers Saturday morning. (W.C. Mann for The Tribune)

CULLMAN – If you wanted to drop by Cullman’s own brewhouse, Goat Island, Saturday evening, you were in for a challenge and a treat. The challenge was finding somewhere to park, as vehicles packed parking lots and filled every nook and cranny up and down the lane going by the brewery.  The treat was the second annual United Way of Cullman County (UWCC) Young Professionals (YP) Crawfish Boil.

Around 5 a.m. Saturday, YP volunteers Dusty Baker, Alex Chaney, Jake Johnson and Ross West left Cullman and went down to the Gulf Coast to fetch 500 lbs. of fresh crawfish.  When they got back home, Freddie Day Catering started boiling up the mudbugs along with vegetables, getting them ready to serve when the event officially opened at 5 p.m.

Once the evening got underway, Goat Island was packed, and it stayed that way for most of the night.  Outside, caterers and volunteers worked away as diners lined up to get their plates. Inside, the BamaCountry Band played while patrons filled every table and crowded the bar in Goat Island’s Tap Room.

YP Board President Michael Gray explained to The Tribune, “We’re just raising money for 16 of our agencies that we have through UWCC that we support.  We just wanted to be part of the effort to build our community.

“We’ve had so many volunteers . . . It’s just incredible to see it all come together to build this community.”

Gray wanted to be sure to recognize the event sponsors, including: American Proteins, Merchants Bank, Leavitt Group and Payroll Services.

Tap Room Manager Brad Glenn talked about Goat Island’s two years of commitment to the fundraiser:

“This is our second one.  They contacted us last year; and of course, we’re a community-minded business.  Anything we can do to give back, we want to do that. Cullman has been so awesome to support us at every turn, and so, any time we can help, we want to help.”

Goat Island regularly serves as an event venue for parties and other celebrations, and hosts fundraisers for various organizations and causes though the year.

Where does the money go?

UWCC Assistant Director Becky Goff said, “United Way works year-round to reach the people who are underserved in our community, who need a hand up–we don’t give them a handout, we give them a hand up, and try to help them improve their lives so they can contribute back to our community.  They can be employed, educated, maybe some of them don’t have healthcare. They can get those needs met so they can get back to being a part of our community. So that’s what we do to try to work to give people an opportunity to improve their lives, and to make a contribution back.

“And we’re thankful to the businesses here in our community who come alongside us and support our effort.  We have probably right around 80 companies here in Cullman County that support us through payroll deductions and corporate gifts and fundraising.”

The UWCC’s Young Professionals Board, according to Gray, “was started to spread awareness for our age group, because a lot of times United Way is just–the big board, we like to call it–it’s a little bit older age range.  We’re trying to spread awareness for the next generation.”

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