BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Regions Bank today announced that Gwendolyn McNeal, Business Center Loan Underwriter in Birmingham, is the February 2016 recipient of the Regions Bank Better Life Award. The Better Life Award is the top honor given to a Regions associate for outstanding dedication and job performance as well as exemplary involvement and commitment to the community.

In addition to the recognition, Regions donates $1,000 in the name of the recipient to a nonprofit organization of the winner’s choice. McNeal chose Grace House Ministries, a charity in Fairfield, Ala., that provides a stable home for girls from crisis backgrounds with the commitment to help develop the girls into mature, devout women. McNeal has served on the Grace House Women’s Auxiliary Board for more than 10 years.

When McNeal first learned about Grace House, her heart was broken for the girls who live there. Many have faced abuse, neglect and abandonment in their young lives.

“These girls would have no place to stay were it not for Grace House,” McNeal said. “There need to be more safe havens for these girls, where they can learn to value themselves as a real person who matters. Without Grace House, some would not have made it.”

For several years, McNeal has chaired Hats Off, Grace House’s largest annual fundraiser, where attendees don fancy hats for a plated meal. The proceeds cover year-round housing expenses, food, clothes and education for Grace House girls.

McNeal’s favorite part of the Hats Off event each year is hearing a Grace House alumna speak about how living there changed her life. “When they first arrive, they are shy and don’t want to talk. Then you become involved in their lives like a big sister or mother and see them blossom into beautiful women,” McNeal said. “Knowing I made a difference is the most rewarding thing for me.”

At work, McNeal is known for a customer-focused approach that emphasizes teamwork and quality service. A video highlighting McNeal’s professional dedication as well as her commitment to community service can be found on the Regions Financial YouTube channel.

McNeal also supports the American Cancer Society, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Alabama, Hoover YMCA, St. Jude Hospital, King’s Home, Lupus Foundation, United Veterans of Alabama, Kid One Transport, the American Heart Association and the Worship Center Christian Church in Bessemer, Ala.

About The Better Life Award

The Better Life Award is presented monthly to a Regions associate who lives the company’s mission to make life better for customers, associates and the communities Regions serves, and who is an example of the company’s values:

  • Put People First
  • Do What Is Right
  • Focus On Your Customer
  • Reach Higher
  • Enjoy Life

Regions associates are nominated for the award by their managers and peers. Regions Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Grayson Hall honors recipients at the company’s headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., at a meeting broadcast live to offices throughout the communities Regions serves. In addition to the recognition, associates who earn the Better Life Award receive an additional week of vacation, a crystal award, and a $1,000 donation is made in their name to the non-profit organization of their choice.