Byars|Wright Gives Back: Our Partnership with the Gardendale Senior Center

Byars|Wright Gives Back: Our Partnership with the Gardendale Senior Center

By Byars|Wright 

When COVID-19 hit Alabama, all five Byars|Wright offices closed to the public for a little more than three months. Most employees worked from home, trying to get adjusted to a different way of life due to the global pandemic. Fortunately for Byars|Wright, we were prepared to work remote and didn’t miss a beat. Our team continued to service their accounts and clients, sell new business, and run the agency successfully; from their homes, the office – from anywhere. 

Not only did our team manage to successfully transition and continue to do their jobs exceptionally well during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many Byars|Wright family members also found the time to give back to their local community. As an agency, we pulled together to see how we could help our community in a time of need. We’re proud of our team and want to share one of our positive experiences in the community.

Volunteering with Meals on Wheels

During quarantine, our Gardendale office location has partnered with United Way Meals on Wheels and the Gardendale Senior Center to provide frozen meals for many seniors in the Gardendale community. On a weekly basis for the past twelve weeks, we have been providing senior center members with one-weeks worth of meals at a drive-up location. 

On average, our volunteer team passes out around 100 boxes of frozen meals, and 600 cartons of milk.

The Impact on our Community

Though Byars|Wright is always looking for ways to invest in our local communities, our Agency Relations Manager, Amee Donald, jumped ahead of the pandemic to find a new way to help during this crisis. She coordinates our volunteer activities year-round and finds ways for us to give back.

“We started to volunteer at the Gardendale Senior Center when we saw they needed committed volunteers to show up consistently on a weekly basis,” said Amee. “Our employees have been wonderful at volunteering their time, and we have never been short on volunteers. It has become something that we look forward to doing each and every week without fail.” 

The Gardendale Senior Center is just down the road from Byars|Wright’s Gardendale branch. It is a place in our community that enriches the lives of seniors and provides a space where they can come together in fellowship. Members of the center congregate almost daily to laugh, play games, socialize, and eat a nutritious meal. For most members, going to the Senior Center is something that they look forward to doing and it is a part of their regular schedule. However, due to COVID-19, the center has been shut down since March. Only three full-time employees were able to enter the center since then.

In an attempt to provide its members with the nutrition they need, as well as some socialization, the Gardendale Senior Center has been providing a frozen meal pick-up. The meal recipients have a two-hour time span on Thursday mornings to come and pick up their pre-packaged frozen meals. The frozen meal boxes have enough food items in them to last seven days, until the next week’s pick-up day. Although the center is nowhere near to hosting the amount of activities as before, the weekly meal pick-up is important. It is a way for them to still enjoy some interaction, and they are greeted by the center’s workers, many of whom are extremely close to the Center’s members. They are also greeted every week with a friendly face from Byars|Wright, and we always try to make it known that we care, and we are excited they are there. 

While the frozen meals are the physical item that is being distributed, Byars|Wright strives to leave a much bigger impact on the Gardendale community than just a meal pick-up. 

“Seeing how happy the meal recipients are when we put the meals in their car makes my whole week,” said Lyric Welty, a regular Byars|Wright volunteer for Meals on Wheels.” Even though we practice social distancing and wear face masks, we still laugh and talk weekly.”

“I’ve started to develop a relationship with the ones that I see on a weekly basis,” Lyric continued. “They are all so appreciative and make sure that we know how grateful they are. For some members, these are the only meals that they will receive all week. Many seniors have been unable to leave their homes to get groceries, due to health conditions, or have been nervous to go to grocery stores. For others, they are used to receiving most of their meals for the day at the Center when it is open. We are making sure that they get fed for a whole week. Byars|Wright is making sure all of the meal recipients know that we care for them, and that we are here to support them during this unprecedented time.”

What We Do

A Byars|Wright volunteer arrives weekly at about 7:30 A.M. to get all the boxes and milk crates off of the delivery truck. After the other volunteers arrive, we begin to bag all the milks, line up the boxes by the drive-up, and then start serving the seniors. 

Each week, we are assisting the three full-time Gardendale Senior Center workers and attempting to make their work-load lighter. We have not only enjoyed getting to know Senior Center members, but the employees as well! They have become a wonderful part of our work week. 

“The work of the Senior Center staff is incredible,” said Brett DeFore, Byars|Wright Intern. “You can tell that they are extremely close with the center’s members – they are always joking with one another, and you can tell that they really make a difference in each other’s lives.”

At the front of the Senior Center, we wait for the meal recipients to drive up in the vehicles. We then take their name, load up the meal boxes in their car, and we always make sure to stop for a minute or two to ask them about their lives. We care immensely about how they are doing, how their families are, and what they have been up to. It’s a fast process, but a very rewarding one. Every time a car is loaded up with a meal box, Byars|Wright volunteers are graciously thanked, and told how appreciated they are. 

“My favorite thing about doing Meals on Wheels is being able to meet and interact with the seniors of Gardendale,” said Hayden Moss, a regular volunteer for Byars|Wright. “I’m not originally from this area, so I wouldn’t have the opportunity to interact with this group otherwise. I signed up to volunteer on behalf of Byars|Wright because I know how hard this time has been for everyone, especially the senior community. I want to do anything I can to help.” 

Where Relationships Matter

While we definitely appreciate the staff, they frequently tell our Byars|Wright volunteers how grateful they are for their time and efforts too. It’s a special relationship!

Senior Center Director, Peggy Burgess said, “The Byars|Wright crew is fantastic! They are so kind and respectful. We love them all! We are grateful and impressed with their servant attitudes.” 

Volunteering at the Senior Center is not only a great opportunity for us to  invest in the community, but it is also a time where we get to invest in one another. 

Byars|Wright believes “Relationships Matter” – not only the relationships with our clients and our communities, but also the relationships we have with our co-workers. Through our experience volunteering on a weekly basis for Meals on Wheels for three months, it has brought us closer together while we have been physically apart, working from home. 

Every person has been affected by the pandemic in some form or fashion. Byars|Wright strives to lessen those affects, even in the smallest of ways, for those who are the most in need. 

We are the home of “Where Relationships Matter”. Because of this, we want every member of our communities to know that Byars|Wright cares for you, we are here for you, and we are supporting you.

We will continue finding consistent ways to support our communities, for as long as we are here.  

For more information on what we are doing in our community, contact Amee Donald at adonald@byarswright.com.

Byars|Wright is a locally owned and operated independent insurance agency with five offices in the greater Birmingham area – including Jasper, Gardendale, Homewood, Alabaster, and Cullman – that has developed into a major provider of commercial and personal insurance. Since 1946, the agency has expanded its scope of business and delivers a wide-range of insurance products with quality coverage at competitive prices. Byars|Wright has been designated a Best Practices Agency by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and was also named “Best Companies to Work For in Alabama” by Business Alabama in 2016, 2017, 2018. 2019. We Build People, Protect Relationships. Byars|Wright is Where Relationships Matter.



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