By Veleka Finch
Morris Kimani believes his time, resources and talents become useful only when he gives them away to others. Kimani emigrated from Kenya to Alabama 31 years ago, and he has built a life and career with that belief constantly in mind.
“The law of nature says, ‘What’s mine is mine, so I’ll keep it,’” explained Kimani. “The law of greed says, ‘What’s yours is mine, so I want it.’ The law of love says, ‘What’s mine is yours, and I want to share it.’ And that’s what drives me.”
Kimani has worked at Regions for 24 years. In his current role as Enterprise Risk Testing Analyst, he helps ensure the bank abides by the Community Reinvestment Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act as it serves customers in low-to-moderate-income communities.
Kimani often spends his lunch break strolling the sidewalks outside Regions Center in Birmingham, greeting homeless people and those who may be down on their luck, offering to feed or help them if he can. He feels he owes it to them.
“I’ve been helped before,” Kimani said. “The only way you can give thanks or show gratitude to whoever did that to you would be to do the same thing for someone else.”
Kimani has seen Birmingham’s Kenyan community grow immensely in the decades since he arrived. As the community grew, so did the needs of its members. So nine years ago, Kimani co-founded Kenya Community in Alabama Welfare Association (KECAWA), which addresses the socioeconomic, cultural, religious and educational needs of Kenyan nationals in Alabama.
“When people get sick or hospitalized and can’t work, we help them with small bills until they get back on their feet,” Kimani said. “If someone passes away, we help deliver the body back home to be buried in Kenya. We provide educational programs and counseling to young people, and college scholarships to high school graduates.”
Citing his goodwill that stretches across the globe, Regions presented Kimani with the Better Life Award on Wednesday. The Better Life Award is the top honor given to a Regions associate for outstanding dedication and job performance, as well as exemplary involvement and commitment to the community.
In addition to the Better Life Award, Regions donates $1,000 in the name of the recipient to a nonprofit organization of the winner’s choice. Kimani chose KECAWA.
“KECAWA is still growing; we’re not done adding to what we can do,” Kimani said. “This gift is a good thing because it is not just going to help one person, it’s going to help the whole Kenyan community in Alabama.”