Emefa Butler is leaving a legacy.
She wants to be remembered as someone who worked her hardest to help her community. Butler also is a big fan of choices. To her, the act of choosing determines someone’s life trajectory. And most of the time, good choices lead to a good trajectory. She began with that philosophy when she founded CHOICE in her hometown of Uniontown, and now she lives by the motto.
“I was entrusted with the acronym CHOICE, which stands for Choosing to Help Others in the Community Excel,” Butler said. “I was born and raised in Uniontown. I moved to Birmingham to raise my son, and as I volunteered there realized that we didn’t have any of the same resources back home. It’s capital or other resources that helps build a community.”
A key word in the mission statement for CHOICE is “others.” The organization is known throughout its area for being a selfless entity focused on helping those who need help.
“Our mission is to be a resources-based organization that provides educational and charitable resources to the community,” Butler said. “There were two barriers we needed to break: communication and transportation, how to get the resources to our community and then how to transport them to our community.”
Butler said the ultimate goal of CHOICE is to make Uniontown a greater place to live, work and play. She is beginning to see the transformation as people gather around her mission.
“When the school system closed in early March, there was no plan in place to feed the students. We had enough capital to feed them for three days, but after the community came together, we were able to provide meals to our students for three weeks,” Butler said.
Butler is grateful to the Alabama Power Foundation‘s assistance to CHOICE in several ways.
“Alabama Power Foundation gifted us with $10,000 to establish the first Youth Resource Center in our community,” she said. “The place provides a community hub pantry, computer lab, innovation room and a resource room. It is open for anyone from 10 to 2, and for students from 3 to 6. The Alabama Power Foundation also offered us leadership training at the Elevate Conference. Their help has been more than essential.”
Another gift from the Alabama Power Foundation is related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When COVID-19 hit, the Alabama Power Foundation gave us $2,500 to help with food distribution during the pandemic,” Butler said. “COVID has decreased our corporate and individual donations, so we are applying for grants. We also had to cancel a few programs. A positive result from the pandemic has been the increase in our volunteer force. After we had to apply social distancing, the community responded well and our volunteers grew from 20 to 37.”
Butler appreciates what CHOICE has done in Uniontown, and she hopes to leave a good legacy.
“While I miss the income from working in the financial sector, the impact of CHOICE is much greater. When you talk about Emefa Butler 20 years from now and the legacy she left in Uniontown and beyond, that will be much greater than the income she would have made in all the days in her life,” Butler said.
For more information, visit www.choiceuniontown.org.
Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected].