Every day, the YWCA Central Alabama is on the frontlines helping women and children. Two employees part of the organization’s ardent army of associates are Valerie Johnson and Latasha Humphrey, who received staff awards in 2021 for their advocacy work.
Johnson manages the organization’s volunteer program at the downtown Birmingham location, and Humphrey is the associate director of the YWCA Family Resource Center in Woodlawn.
“When you come into the house of the YWCA (as a volunteer), I want you to know who we are, so when you go back to your desk, school or place of business, you know the impact and why you did what you did,” Johnson said. “And (you) may be able to … tell others.”
Johnson reminds volunteers that the wall they painted or the toiletries tucked into individual purses they donated for YWCA clients, for example, carry a lot of meaning. They could be the bright spot someone needed that day. “We want to do what our mission statement does, and that’s empower,” said Johnson, who served four years as a special projects manager with the YWCA before being promoted to her current position in 2018. “I am just so grateful for the space I’m in.”
Through the Family Resource Center, Humphrey offers GED prep and education, tutoring, parenting support, financial literacy, community outreach and more. “Here at the Family Resource Center, our motto is about making an impact, adding value and doing it with pure intention,” she said. “Collectively, as a team, that’s how we operate.”
Humphrey worked with the YWCA via AmeriCorps from 2011 to 2013. In 2018, she returned to the YWCA, working in different positions until being promoted to her current position in fall 2021. Humphrey’s grandmother, the late Flora Pearl Humphrey, influenced her to give back, which is why the YWCA is such a good fit for her. It’s also why Humphrey started The Flora Pearl Foundation in her spare time. The 10-year-old foundation, which is not connected to the YWCA, is a mentoring and empowerment program for women and girls.
“My grandmother always made people feel welcome. She offered a hand up and not a hand out,” Humphrey said. “That’s my passion – showing love to women and children. It’s what was shown to me when I was growing up.”
About the Woodfin administration’s #StrongHER campaign: In 2019, Mayor Randall Woodfin’s administration launched the #StrongHER campaign to highlight some of the unsung “sheroes’’ living, working, volunteering or inspiring others in Birmingham. For 31 days in March, women were featured on the City of Birmingham’s social media outlets in celebration of Women’s History Month. To learn more, click here.