Dawson’s Gifts Help “Vibrant Center” Continue to Expand and Unify Lives
Julie Dawson’s career as a professional artist (painter), photographer, writer, and entrepreneur began in 1973, and she is still enjoying her work today. “I will never quit working!” she says. Her connection to the Birmingham Community House (BHC), as it was unofficially known at the time, also began in the 1970s.
“I was approached by a wonderful volunteer from the Community House who asked me to help with the Artist of the Month program,” Julie recalls. “Each month a different artist was featured, and their art was hung on the walls of BCH. Then it was decided that an art show should be started. That’s how I became a co-founder of the Our Town Art Show.”
In gratitude for all of the joy and friendships that her affiliation with The Community House Foundation has brought to her life, Julie gives back in many ways. “Everyone has different ways to give—time, talent, abilities, friendship, financial—and I would like to do all of it,” she says. In addition to her longtime support of the annual fund and major gift campaigns, Julie decided to expedite a gift that she had intended to leave through her estate so that she could see her gift at work during her lifetime.
“Assisting with a financial gift is just one of the things I can do,” says Julie, who left her gift unrestricted to be used in the areas of greatest need. “I just am a big advocate of this fabulous Community House. It’s a tradition—a real community. It has continued to grow and bring together all kinds of people of different backgrounds, abilities, and the like, coming to understand each other, to appreciate each other, and to be friends. The Community House fosters that.
“I think that a major reason why America is strong lies in our core belief in volunteering. We are raised to give in whatever manner we can—time, ideas, energies, and money. How wonderful that the people of Birmingham embrace the American spirit of giving. Because my world is enriched by the magnificent privilege of living in this country and city, I feel the need to and joy of participating in a variety of ways.”
Julie treasures the longtime friendships she has made through The Community House Foundation. “It helped me get to know the community,” she says, “It never stops; you’re always meeting someone new. Since I first became involved, so many programs have been added over the years—like child education. I wanted to add to that success and help keep it going in any way I could. I love the Community House, and I love being there; you truly feel like you’re at home.”
Julie encourages others to consider how they could leave a legacy of support for this community gem. “The Community House has been a hub since 1923, bringing people together for learning and laughter, fun and friendship, celebrations and group gatherings—creating opportunities for growth, depth, and happiness in every age,” she concludes. “It is important to me that its welcome extends genuinely to everyone. My hope is that I can help this vibrant center continue to expand and unify our individual and collective lives in vital and joyful ways. However you feel you can give, it’s a wonderful thing to do.”
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