BY KENDYL HOLLINGSWORTH
The United Way of Lee County is celebrating the holidays early with a few upgrades to its headquarters on Executive Park Drive.
According to Tipi Miller, executive director of the local United Way, the interior and exterior upgrades aim to benefit both staff and visitors to the office.
“We are thrilled with the renovations to the United Way building,” Miller said. “The building has served many United Way agencies and programs since 1997. The changes provide a welcome atmosphere for visitors and staff.”
The renovations were celebrated Dec. 15 with a ribbon cutting ceremony, courtesy of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce. The event was attended by United Way staff, Auburn and Opelika city officials and various supporters.
This is the first time the building has been renovated since it was built 25 years ago, said Kerissa Justice, marketing specialist for the United Way of Lee County. The recent renovations include repainted walls and ceilings, redone floors and exterior landscaping. In addition, canvases depicting each of the local United Way’s partner organizations line the hallways.
Justice said she believes the improved atmosphere will bolster United Way staff members’ internal operations and help them be more effective in their work.
“Your environment can really affect your desire and drive to work, and having a fresh and new space has been super beneficial for all of us and given us a fresh wind in our sails for the new year to keep working hard to help the Lee County community,” she said.
The renovations took about two months to complete, beginning in early October this year and lasting through the end of November. According to Justice, the United Way of Lee County was able to fully fund the project from money it has saved annually over the years.
“Throughout the history of the United Way, money has been set aside yearly and allocated for ‘building updates,’ and that fund had never been tapped into until this year,” she explained. “We were able to use those funds to pay for all the renovations to the building.”
While the upgrades have already been beneficial to the United Way staff, Justice added that she hopes the agency’s partner organizations will also take advantage of all the office has to offer.
“It is exciting to have a place that we are proud of,” she said. “We feel that these more modern updates represent the current atmosphere and vision of the United Way and the goals we have for the community and our partner organizations.
“We have a large board meeting room that we hope our partner organizations can take advantage of to hold meetings, work on projects or anything else that they would have a need for. We also hope that every person who walks through our doors with a need for our services feels seen and cared for by our staff members.”
According to its website, the United Way of Lee County seeks to “increase the organized capacity” of community members and organizations to help each other. The agency aims to connect those in need in the community with necessary resources, especially when it comes to meeting basic human needs.
The United Way of Lee County’s four areas of focus include helping children and youth achieve their potential, promoting health and financial stability, aiding in times of crisis or disaster and strengthening the community as a whole. These focus areas are based on the belief that education, income and health are the “building blocks of a good life and a strong community.”
For those wishing to learn more about United Way of Lee County, the renovations or the agency’s services, Justice said anyone is welcome to stop by the office, located at 2133 Executive Park Drive in Opelika. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
More information is also available at unitedwayofleecounty.com.