Monday, March 23, 2009

WACF Loses a Director and a Friend. Alabama loses a leader

Barbara Drummond Thorne, died peacefully at home Monday, March 23, 2009, at the age of 72. She was born in Walker County on October 4, 1936. She will be remembered as being a lady of great faith, her love for all people, and a civic volunteer. She was a long-time member of First Baptist Church, a graduate of Walker County High School, and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University where she was a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. She was an owner and on the Board of Directors of Drummond Company, Inc., a trustee of Samford University, a director of the Walker Area Community and Alabama 4-H Foundations.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Heman Edward Drummond and Elza Eliza Stewart Drummond, her brother Donald David Drummond and her sister Hila Jo Drummond Davidson.

She is survived by her four children: Beth Thorne Stukes of Jasper, Dr. Larry Thorne of Auburn, Becky Thorne Carroll of Auburn and Babs Thorne Anderson of Tuscaloosa; son-in-laws: Rick Stukes of Jasper, David Carroll of Auburn and Michael Anderson of Tuscaloosa; Grand B’s Loves: Brent Uptain, Patrick and Mary Margaret Carroll, Logan and Liza Anderson and Jacob and Sarah Elizabeth Thorne; her beloved brothers and sister-in laws: Mrs. Donald Drummond, Mr. and Mrs. Segal Drummond, Mr. and Mrs. Garry Drummond, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Drummond and Mr. and Mrs. John Drummond and many nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends on Tuesday, March 24, 2009, from 5 PM until 7 PM at First Baptist Church of Jasper. The funeral will be Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at First Baptist Church at 11 AM, with graveside following at Pisgah Baptist Church in Sipsey, Alabama.

Pallbearers: Tom N. Davidson, John Davidson, Dan Davidson, David Drummond, Lin Drummond, Ed Drummond, Mark Drummond, Michael Drummond, Bryan Drummond, Christopher Drummond, Scott Drummond, Patrick Drummond, and John Drummond, Jr.

Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, 1604 Fourth Avenue, Jasper, Alabama 35501 or the Walker Area Community Foundation, P.O. Box 171, Jasper, Alabama 35502.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tough Times call for Creativity - A Brush with Kindness for Walker County

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham’s “A Brush with Kindness” Home Repair Program Benefits Walker County

Jasper, AL (March 19, 2009) – Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham (Habitat Birmingham) has extended A Brush with Kindness into Walker County. A Brush with Kindness is a Habitat for Humanity home repair program that helps homeowners by performing critical repairs for homeowners in need. These repairs are performed to restore and maintain homes for existing homeowners who may not be able to perform or afford the necessary repairs.

Habitat Birmingham’s home repair program began in March 2006. Since then, the organization has repaired roofs, replaced or repaired siding, painted, or assisted with handicapped accessibility for over 100 homeowners in Jefferson and Shelby County. In February, Habitat Birmingham repaired two homes in Walker County.

“Habitat Birmingham is excited to be working in Walker County to help improve and sustain safe housing for those in the community. A Brush with Kindness will also bring opportunities for volunteers to work to improve living conditions for families in the Walker County community. Habitat for Humanity builds partnerships with volunteers, sponsors, and homeowner families. We look forward to building new relationships within the Walker County Community” said Charles Moore, President and CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham.

“I’m very grateful that there are good people out there to help us seniors. I was so blessed to have the work done on my roof and front porch by the nice people of Habitat for Humanity,” said Mrs. Julia Morring, a homeowner of a newly repaired home.

Habitat Birmingham has also partnered with Independent Living Resources to build and provide handicap accessibility ramps for those in need.

“Independent Living Resources’ mission is to empower people with disabilities to fully participate in the community. Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity will be instrumental in meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities and their ability to participate in the community, access services and reduce institutionalization,” said Trecia Benefield, an Independent Living Specialist in Jasper, Alabama.

Mrs. Linda Trotter, a homeowner who received a ramp through the partnership stated, “We just feel really blessed to have been given the accessibility ramp. Before Habitat for Humanity came to help us, my husband couldn’t use the front door to enter the house. Now with the ramp, he is able to use it for wheel chair access and it also helps him to walk. They did a really great job and we are very proud of it. We are so thankful to have it.”

Habitat Birmingham will work with organizations in the Walker County community to provide services to those in need. For information on assistance with accessibility issues or possible home repairs, please call 205-387-0159. To find out more information on Habitat’s programs in Walker County please visit

About Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham
Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry serving Jefferson, Shelby and Walker Counties since 1987. The organization is dedicated to making quality, affordable houses available to low-income families. To date, more than 300 houses have been completed in the Greater Birmingham area, sold to partner families at cost with no interest charges. Home ownership promotes family stability, self-sufficiency, educational achievement and responsible citizenship. Habitat Birmingham is recognized as one of the top 10 Habitat affiliates (out of 1500) in the United States.

Contact Information:
Beth Jerome, Habitat Birmingham 205-780-1234, ext. 321 (office) 205-410-4705 (cell)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Creative Poetry Contest

to honor the Men and Women of the Armed Services Deploying
To Afghanistan in May 2009 from Jasper, AL

The Friends of the 877th National Guard Unit are requesting submissions of poetry to be shared and read by the author during the May 2nd Celebration for our deploying troops.

The Contest consists of competition in one division, Grades 6-12. Poems can be rhymed or free verse up to 60 lines but must NOT have been published previously.
Any student in Grades 6-12 in any school in Walker County is encouraged to compete in this poetry contest.
School Level. Each school selects their top three winning entries and sends these entries to the local superintendent by April 15, 2009. The Superintendant will batch them all together and contact the Friends of the 877th to arrange pickup.

For system entries, one hard copy must be provided as well as the original. All entries should be single-spaced in Times or Times New Roman Font, size 12, and are limited to a 1 page maximum.

All entries must be the student's own work and must have been written during the 2008-2009 Academic Year.

The supporting (second) page of the entry must show the following:

ü Student’s name,
ü Home address,
ü Home e-mail address,
ü Grade level,
ü School,
ü School system,
ü Teacher’s name,
ü Teacher’s or school's e-mail address.

Title of each entry must appear on the first page of the text with no other identifying marks or information on that page

Teachers and judges are to ensure originality at each level.

Entries not following requirements may not be eligible for judging.
Schools and school systems are encouraged to offer prizes at each level of competition with awards and publicity help to further the contest goal of rewarding excellence in writing. One nominal First Place Award will be offered for the best overall entry by the Friends of the 877th.
All entries in the writing contest will be judged by an independent panel of the Friends of the 877th based in part on the following criteria: significance of content: word choice, imagery, and style; form or organization; grammar; and mechanics.

For further information, contact Brenda Gann, Director pro tempore of the ad hoc organization “Friends of the 877th “ at (205) 387-9398 or by e-mail at or contact Paul Kennedy, at (205) 302-0001,

Photovoltaic Design & Installation Workshop – March 23 – 27, 2009

Energize Alabama-- e-bulletin - January 12, 2009

Aldridge Botanical Gardens in Hoover, Al will be the site of a five day, in-depth workshop conducted by Solar Energy International of Carbondale, CO ( The workshop is certified by the Institute of Sustainable Power (ISP) and fulfills the educational requirements for Category ‘B’ of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Solar PV Installer Certification. Cost is $500 and includes all workshop materials plus breakfast and lunch. For more information send an e-mail to Larry Quick at . Phone 205 682-8019.
Several of us have led weekend workshops on solar PV, but this promises to be most in depth yet and the first week-long workshop in Alabama. I (Daryl) have been the only person in Alabama with the NABCEP Solar PV Installer certification. As the barriers to solar PV here drop away, we will need a larger group of certified PV installers in Alabama. This workshop will provide participants with a foundation for solar installation and a first step toward NABCEP certification. If you or your organization can be a sponsor or you are interested in being a participant in this workshop, let Larry know this week.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Obama's Plan to Reduce Charitable Deductions for the Wealthy Draws Criticism
By Suzanne Perry
New updates:
Several billion dollars could be lost in charitable gifts because of the tax proposal, say philanthropy scholars.
The White House says that the plan won’t hurt charities, in part because it doesn’t take effect until 2011, when Obama officials expect the economic recovery to have begun.
Original article:
Some charities and nonprofit experts are worried that President Obama’s proposal to impose new limits on charitable tax deductions for wealthy people would dampen giving at a time when charities are under severe strain because of the recession.
“During the current economic downturn, which has forced nonprofits to do more with less, any proposal which would result in a decrease in private giving will be a disaster for America’s charities, and for those who depend upon them,” said United Jewish Communities, an umbrella group for Jewish social-service charities.
Mr. Obama proposed the new caps on Thursday as a way to finance changes in the country’s health-care system.
In a document outlining his 2010 budget plans, President Obama proposed limiting the value of the tax break for itemized deductions, including donations to charity, to 28 percent for families making more than $250,000. In other words, taxpayers would save 28 cents on their federal income taxes for each dollar donated.
That would reduce by as much as 20 percent the amount wealthy taxpayers could get in tax breaks. Under the current system, taxpayers who are in the 33 percent or 35 percent tax brackets use that rate to claim deductions.
The president says the proposal on itemized deductions — which would also apply to claims such as mortgage interest — would raise $318-billion over 10 years. That money would help pay for a 10-year $630-billion reserve fund designed to help make health care more affordable and available.
Independent Sector, a coalition of charities and foundations, and the Council on Foundations were among the nonprofit groups that lined up to express concern that the proposal would prompt donors to pull back.
But others say the effect could be limited or should be viewed in the context of the broader goals the president is trying to achieve with his budget proposals. (Update: Indiana University scholars estimated on Friday afternoon that several billion dollars in giving by the affluent were probably at stake.)
‘Rebalance the Tax Code’
The proposal to limit the itemized-deduction rate is included in a package of measures designed to free up money for the reserve fund, including reducing Medicare overpayments, cutting drug prices, and improving post-hospitalization care as a way to reduce readmissions.
The plan is an effort to “rebalance the tax code so that the wealthiest pay more,” the document says.
“With this budget, we are making a historic commitment to comprehensive health-care reform,” President Obama told a news conference. “It’s a step that will not only make families healthier and companies more competitive, but over the long term it will also help us bring down our deficit.”
But the idea has drawn mixed reactions in the nonprofit world.
Rob Reich, an associate professor at Stanford University, urges critics to look at the big picture. “Is the good that will be done through health-care reform greater than the good that would have been done with the charitable projects of the wealthy people [who might decrease their gifts]?” he says.
He argues that the charitable deduction increases the inequalities between rich and poor because people with smaller incomes often don’t earn enough to itemize, and if they do they get less of a break because they are in a lower tax bracket.
But Sheldon Steinbach, a lawyer in Washington who represents colleges and universities, says the proposal could have drastic consequences for many groups.
“Any disincentive to charitable giving, especially in the current economic climate, will have an impact far beyond the black letter law,” Mr. Steinbach says. “It will have an exponentially negative impact.”
But while many charitable-giving experts expressed alarm about how reduced rate for charitable deductions would affect giving by wealthy Americans, others say that Mr. Obama’s proposal may be less cause for concern than it initially appeared.
The reason: Many wealthy Americans who would otherwise be in the 33- or 35-percent tax bracket — and thus able to take that same percentage deduction for their charitable gifts — have used mortgage payments and other deductions to qualify for the alternative minimum tax rate of 28 percent, says Robert F. Sharpe, a Memphis planned-giving consultant.
By paying the alternative minimum tax rate of 28 percent, those wealthy taxpayers are already restricted to the same percentage on their charitable deductions, Mr. Sharpe says. “A lot of the rich are already used to the 28-percent deduction,” which means the Obama proposal would not result in any change for them.
For those wealthy individuals who currently qualify for the 33- or 35-percent rate, however, President Obama’s proposal would have some financial impact.
To illustrate, Mr. Sharpe offers the example of a wealthy donor in the top tax bracket who makes a $100,000 gift. The donor currently would save $35,000 in taxes, or 35 percent of the gift. Under President Obama’s proposal, that same donor would save only $28,000, or 28 percent — a difference of $7,000. (Editor’s note: this sentence originally referred incorrectly to the $35,000 and $28,000 as the amount that could be deducted, instead of the amount saved in taxes.)
Mr. Sharpe says the proposal would unfairly penalize the most generous taxpayers since wealthy people who give nothing to charity would not face such a tax increase.
Impact on Large Institutions
Bruce Flessner, a fund-raising consultant at Bentz Whaley Flessner, in Minneapolis, says the plan would probably have little impact on organizations that have a broad pool of donors. But large institutions — particularly colleges and universities and academic medical centers — could be particularly hard hit if the plan moves forward.
“It seems like unusual public policy to try, as the president announced to the Congress this week, to return the United States to world leadership in access to higher education and then make it more difficult for extraordinary donors to contribute great gifts to colleges and universities,” Mr. Flessner says.
“Likewise, it seems like unusual public policy to penalize the great medical centers that contribute so much to scientific breakthroughs by making it more difficult for donors to make the six-, seven-, eight-, and nine-figure gifts,” he adds.
Eric Kessler, who advises major donors and foundations for Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors, says the proposed limits would not likely immediately affect the behavior of the biggest donors, who tend to plot their giving strategically. “I think it has an effect over time, but I don’t think anybody’s going to pick up the paper tomorrow and say, let’s forgo our commitment to the local theater group.”
But he says its could affect mid-range donors — say those who give in the $1,000 range — “who are less driven by strategy and for whom the deduction plays a significant role in their giving.”
Michael W. Peregrine, a lawyer in Chicago who advises nonprofit groups, says charities are now facing a “triple play” that could cut into their donations — the bad economy, the proposed charitable-deduction limits, and proposals by President Obama to end tax cuts for wealthy people that were introduced by President Bush.
He says he worries that charities that are hurting for donations will become more vulnerable to fund-raising scams. “What is certain is that the perception that this will reduce charitable donations in the short term is going to draw out the fraudsters,” he says.
Republicans who oppose President Obama’s budget proposal have also taken aim at the charitable-deduction measure. “During this difficult time, charities provide vital support mechanisms for families in need of help, and this budget is a direct assault on the financial resources they require,” Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, said in a statement.
But the proposals will not necessarily change giving patterns, says Giving Institute, an association of consultants in Glenview, Ill., and its research arm, Giving USA Foundation.
They noted in a statement that 53 percent of high-net-worth donors surveyed in a 2006 study for Bank of America said their giving would stay the same, or even increase, if the tax deduction for charitable gifts fell to zero.
Giving Institute members have found that “the most important factor in how much people give is how committed they are to the purpose of the request,” the statement said. Furthermore, giving will increase when wealth is created and “if the president’s plan generates more wealth for Americans then giving will go up.”
Holly Hall contributed to this article.
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