Month: September 2022

Woodlawn United Hires Deputy Director

Birmingham, Ala. – Woodlawn United  (WU), formerly Woodlawn Foundation, a community quarterback that leads an alliance of partners committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in Birmingham’s historic Woodlawn community, is growing its team. Woodlawn United is excited to announce the hire of Meghan Ann Hellenga as its Deputy Director. As Deputy Director, Meghan Ann will assist the organization in extending its capacity to ensure that the organization can continue to meet the needs of the Woodlawn Community through fundraising, strategic planning, and operational efficiency.  Hellenga brings years of fundraising and organizational experience. During her time at the Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA), she worked with the team to secure funding of more than $7 million annually. She was also instrumental in the development, planning, and fundraising strategies at the BMA. Before her time at the BMA, she served as director of development at AIDS Alabama before becoming the organization’s administrative director of programs. In addition, she implemented fundraising initiatives and cultivated community partnerships. “Over the next few years, Meghan Ann will work with partners to identify resources that foster equity and opportunity for Woodlawn residents,” stated Mashonda Taylor, Executive Director of Woodlawn United. “Meghan Ann will work alongside residents and local stakeholders to help prioritize initiatives and leverage resources across three main pillars: cradle-to-college/career education pathway, high-quality mixed-income housing, and community wellness programs.”   Woodlawn United facilitates a holistic approach to community revitalization. Community partners, residents, business owners, and civic leaders work collectively to elevate initiatives to grow a safe and healthy community where children learn and play, families live in quality housing, parents work in stable jobs, businesses thrive, and everyone contributes to the growth of Greater Birmingham. It follows a model established by Purpose Built Communities, an organization that helps communities across the country implement proven and practical strategies to increase equity and resiliency. “I think it’s important for our organization to amplify the story of the Woodlawn Effect,” said Meghan Ann Hellenga, Deputy Director for Woodlawn United. “If adequately resourced, the work happening in Woodlawn will continue to provide equitable opportunities for all residents in the community to thrive and serve as a model for other communities throughout the city and region.” About Woodlawn United  Woodlawn United (WU) is a community-based 501(c)3 organization that facilitates community revitalization in the Woodlawn Community of Birmingham, AL. Woodlawn United works to grow a safe, healthy community where children learn and play, families live in quality housing, parents work in stable jobs, businesses thrive, and everyone contributes to the growth of Greater Birmingham.

Read More

Woodlawn United Community Input Meeting

September 20, 2022 – Drop in anytime between 3 PM to 7 PM  The cities of Birmingham and Trussville are working with Norfolk Southern to submit a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) planning grant application to plan new railroad grade separations in the vicinity of Brussels Avenue near Harris Homes in East Birmingham and at Mary Taylor Road in Trussville.  These new grade separations are proposed to be constructed in conjunction with the closure of at-grade crossings at Antwerp Ave/64th Place and 56th, 57th and 59th streets in Birmingham and at Parrish Lane and Peggy Lee Lane in Trussville.  The plan would also include a bike/ped grade separated crossing in the vicinity of 59th St.  These improvements, if implemented, will improve the safety and mobility of people and goods.    The recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorizes the RCE Program to enhance rail safety, improve the health and safety of communities, eliminate highway-rail and pathway-rail grade crossings that are frequently blocked by trains, and reduce the impacts that freight movement and railroad operations may have on underserved communities.  The grade separation project if constructed would improve the operation of the Norfolk Southern Norris Yard and reduce the number of instances where roadway grade crossings are blocked by stopped trains at Brussels Avenue, which is the only access road in and out of the community. The proposed Brussels Avenue grade separation would especially benefit the Harris Homes neighborhood which experiences regular blocked crossings at Brussels Avenue. Reduction of train-horn noise will be a related benefit for communities along the railroad including Woodlawn, Crestwood, and Harris Homes.     Woodlawn United is working with the Cities of Birmingham and Trussville to receive public comment about the proposed FRA planning grant and to solicit YOUR INPUT about potential plans to build grade separations and close nearby grade crossings.  A Community Input Meeting will be held at the Woodlawn United offices on September 20, 2022 from 3 PM to 7 PM.  Comments may also be provided at the Woodlawn United website.  For questions or additional information contact Jim Ritchey, Whitman Requardt and Associates at   

Read More