Hands-On Philanthropy

For Bette and Elliot Bell philanthropy means more than just writing a check, it means immersing themselves in the causes they support. They want to be hands-on in their giving so they can better understand and engage with the organizations and communities they are passionate about.

Through their Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation they make grants to a wide variety of local programs working on the causes they care about the most: education, environmental awareness, and addressing homelessness. They are also active participants in the Foundation’s Giving Together program, which provides them with innovative funding and learning opportunities about the causes they care about.

Recently, the Bells embarked on a journey through Birmingham to visit several organizations that are addressing homelessness. They wanted to see, hear, and feel the efforts of these places firsthand, and gain a better understanding of their stories. Community Foundation staff arranged a tour of several facilities.

The first stop was One Roof, an organization that works to equip and empower our community to prevent and end homelessness through advocacy, education, and coordination of services. The next stop was the Jimmie Hale Mission, a Birmingham organization that has been working for almost 80 years to create a space for homeless men to find encouragement and shelter.

They also had the opportunity to visit two connected organizations, the Church of the Reconciler and Community on the Rise, that are housed on the same campus. While the Church serves as place of friendship, support, and resources for Birmingham’s homeless community, Community on the Rise helps the same individuals with ID recovery, jobs, housing, and counseling. They also have a that store that employs individuals to recycle plastics into jewelry and gifts which helps to finance their other efforts.

Highlands United Methodist Church, which plays a quiet yet significant role in rallying resources against homelessness in Birmingham, was another location they visited. Last on the docket was the Way Station, a shelter for homeless youth that emphasizes trauma-informed design and partnerships with other organizations. The Way Station works to create individualized plans that prevent homelessness recurrence for their residents.

Through this journey, the Bells had the opportunity to see how their gifts make a significant impact on the issues they care about, and that philanthropy is not just about opening your checkbook but opening yourself to know and uplift the community you are a part of.

To learn more about how you can make an impact, contact our Giving Staff