ACF awards grants to local organizations at dinner

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Four Atmore organizations received the Community Foundation of South Alabama’s Atmore Affiliate Grant Awards at United Bank’s annual Joint Advisory Board Meeting on March 22 at Wind Creek Casino and Hotel.

The recipients of the grants include Escambia County Middle School for its STEM Collaboration Lab; Atmore Area YMCA; Grace Fellowship — Unity in the Community; and Pride of Atmore for its downtown revitalization effort.

Total grant money handed out was $90,360. UB President and CEO Bob Jones announced during the meeting that the bank would double the grant amounts for ECMS, the YMCA and Grace Fellowship.

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The Atmore Community Foundation, an affiliate of the CFSA, is made up of an advisory committee of Atmore residents that make recommendations about how the charitable dollars are spent, and the foundation bears the legal responsibility to ensure that the funds are then used in compliance with donor intent.

The keynote speaker at the meeting was Quint Studer, community volunteer and head of Studer Community Institue.

Studer and his wife, Rishy, moved to Pensacola, Fla., in 1996 and have invested in the city’s future. His institute is a non profit, research-based entity that was started in 2014 with the goal of improving the quality of life in the community.

SCI’s efforts focus on improving education and economic development through two facets — research and advocacy in early childhood education, and leadership training and employee development for small and medium-sized businesses.

Additionally, the Studers have dedicated themselves to the growth of downtown Pensacola, and are co-owners of the Pensacola Wahoos.

While at the meeting, Studer spoke about his business model, building a vibrant community and running small businesses.

“Running a small business is hard,” he said.

Studer majored in special education while in college in Wisconsin. He spoke about his own impairments, including his hearing and speaking disabilities.

“I’m hearing impaired,” he said. “It’s a gift because I am a real good listener.”

During the keynote, Studer talked about how UB has given people with jobs purpose, and make the work worthwhile.

Jones had many positive things to say about the work UB does, not only in the Atmore area, but around the state.

The local bank is doing work in each of the major cities in the state.

Additionally, United Bank received an additional $55 million in funding for this year, and a $4 million capital fund grant.

“Our footprint runs far beyond the immediate area,” Jones said.

To wrap up his keynote address, Studer told the story of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the film with star Jimmy Stewart.

Stewart played George Bailey, the president of a Building and Loan Co., in Bedford Falls. Studer said by the end of the film, Bailey received enough money to keep the building and loan open so it could lend money to those who lived in the town.

“You got your wings,” Studer said. “You get to walk out of here having spent the evening with some of the richest people in the world.”