Merrill joins United Way for ‘Seeing is Believing’ tour in Cullman

Cullman Caring for Kids Executive Director Javon Daniel (center) greets Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill (right) on the United Way of Cullman County’s “Seeing is Believing” tour Monday morning. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – United Way of Cullman County (UWCC) leaders and volunteers on Monday morning led Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill and local officials on a tour of four of UWCC’s partner agencies. Stops on the “Seeing is Believing” tour included the Good Samaritan Health Clinic, Cullman Caring for Kids, the Pilot Light House and the Cullman County Center for the Developmentally Disabled (CCCDD).

“We’re so excited to be on our ‘Seeing is Believing’ tour of Cullman County’s partner agencies with the United Way,” said UWCC Executive Director Becky Goff. “We’re hitting four agencies today that hit on the areas of health, education and financial stability and we’re so excited to have Secretary of State John Merrill with us today. He’s come to join us and learn a little bit more about what’s happening in Cullman County and what’s happening with our nonprofit organizations. We’re thrilled that he was able to come down and join us. We also have volunteers from our Board and Young Professionals and other community partners that have come aboard with us today. We have 20 that are on the tour with us today, so we’re super excited.”

Goff gave a brief preview of each stop.

“We visited Good Samaritan Health Clinic that helps people in the community who have no access to health care, and people who qualify can get free clinic services there,” she said. “We just finished up the tour here at Cullman Caring for Kids, the community food bank; they help nearly 700 families every month get food, so we’re super excited about that. After that, we’re heading over to the Pilot Light Home, which is our foster care home for children that are in DHR care and following that we’re going to be heading down to CCCDD which is the program that we support that helps people with different abilities here in our community.”

Merrill spoke to The Tribune when the tour made its stop at Cullman Caring for Kids, praising the work UWCC does and its relationships with its partner agencies, the community and local government.

“I think they’re doing a tremendous job, and one of the things the United Way (of Cullman County) is doing is that they’re not just, like a lot of other United Ways have become where they’re strictly project-based or project-orientated, they are also making contributions to the general operating funds for these organizations. That’s really important in a community this size with needs that exist in a community this size, because if they did not make those direct contributions, either $28,000 to the folks over at Good Samaritan or $35,000 here to Cullman Caring for Kids, they would not be able to function- that’s 10% of their general operating budget,” said Merrill.

“Having a partnership, public and private partnership, that exists between the churches, community groups, the schools, the (Cullman) County Commission (and) other municipalities is so very important,” he said, “but this is a community that deals with partnerships well and that invests in itself and its people and you can tell that by the way these (agencies) are operated.”

“We are blessed to have one of the most generous communities for sure,” said Goff. “They hardly ever say no, and they’re always willing to extend a hand and give back. We’re very thankful.”

“I think we can carry a message to other communities in the other 66 counties about what they’re doing in Cullman County,” Merrill said. “It doesn’t matter about how big your county is, it doesn’t matter how many municipalities, how many people you have, you can continue to do what you can do with resources you have and partnerships you can develop in your own community and make sure you’re being as effective as you can possibly be regardless of size. Cause everybody has needs.”

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