Susan Klingel and her friends threw a party Thursday.
It was a luau, with palm-tree cupcakes, tropical scenes and beach balls tossed in the air to celebrate the Arc of Madison County winning the 2015 Regions Bank What A Difference A Day Makes contest.
The Arc of Madison County received a $5,000 donation from Regions and a commitment of 100 volunteer hours from Regions associates in recognition of winning the online voting, which lasted one month and honored deserving nonprofits from 19 markets the bank serves in 16 states. Each of the other 18 nominees will receive $1,000 and 50 volunteer hours.
“Wow, I still can’t believe they nominated us,” said Klingel, the Arc’s executive director. “We were so excited when we first got the call to be selected. I think it’s awesome. Our clients are loving it, and we love to celebrate.”
For 60 years, the Arc of Madison County has enhanced the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in and around the Huntsville, Alabama area. First organized by parents, the Arc has grown to include residential services, day habilitation services and job placement for adults.
From the time the Arc’s Lowe Center in North Huntsville opened Thursday, Regions North Alabama Area Marketing Manager Laura Sellers was busy setting up a party for dozens of Arc clients.
“It’s so wonderful to see all these smiling faces and to share a laugh with them,” Sellers said. “We can’t wait to help with our service hours. This is a very small organization that does so much good in the community and we love being a part of what they do.”
The 2015 WADADM contest focused on nonprofits that serve people with disabilities, in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The idea to combine WADADM with ADA was first proposed by Kathy Lovell, the ADA Manager at Regions.
“I approached Tim Deighton in Corporate Advocacy and he thought this was a great opportunity,” Lovell said. “I’m very pleased to think that we gained so much momentum for organizations throughout the footprint by giving them exposure through What A Difference A Day Makes. I think we gained them attention they deserved and enhanced partnerships.”
North Alabama Area President Ron Poteat said he was pleased to see the Arc earn the donation because “they do so much with the resources they have. Now, we feel, we can do even more to help them.
“Nominating the Arc was an easy choice,” he added. “We have a long relationship with them and we know that this is a quality organization.”
The Arc has multiple campuses, including an opportunity center and a work center. Klingel chose the Lowe Center for the celebration.
“This is where our clients make the transition to become more involved in the community,” Klingel said. “Many have been sheltered before, so we give them an opportunity they have never had before. And one of those opportunities is to volunteer in the community. Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t give back.”
Poteat said that the greatest impact of the What A Difference A Day Makes Contest is that it shines the light on organizations that do so much good in the community.
Including the Arc of Madison County.
“As a result of this, more people will know about the Arc,” Poteat said. “Regions is committed to the community and, hopefully, people will now ask, ‘How can I be involved?’ For us, this is an opportunity to tell the Arc’s extraordinary story and show how we want to make a difference.”