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Alabama’s Project SHARE a blessing for those in need

Major Charles Powell, area commander for The Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham, credits Project SHARE with being a “game changer” for those in need.
By Anna Catherine Roberson
Alabama Newscenter

During her 35-year career working in the health care services industry, Willie Neil McGhee lived out what she believed was her calling in life: to help people. Every day, McGhee assisted customers with billing and collections using empathy and concern, always trying to find ways to help others.

However, not long after McGhee retired, she found herself on the other side, when she needed assistance with her utility bills.

“If you have compassion, you know when a person really needs help,” McGhee said. “I never thought I would ever be in that position, but you never know.”

For McGhee, the help she needed came from Project SHARE.

“My income was not where it should have been when I retired. I had a home to pay for and my bills exceeded my income,” said McGhee. “It was just one thing after another that I needed. At my breaking point, I was about to give up, but my faith kept me going. I kept trying and trying and then found Project SHARE.”

Established in 1982, Project SHARE (Service to Help Alabamians with Relief on Energy) provides assistance to low-income elderly and disabled people needing help with their heating and cooling bills. Administered by the Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham, Project SHARE is a statewide partnership involving Alabama Power and electric cooperatives across the state. Since its inception, the program has provided nearly $40 million in assistance to more than 385,000 families. In 2020, more than 1,700 families received assistance from Project SHARE.

Major Charles Powell, area commander for the Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham, credits Project SHARE with aiding those in need.

“At a time with so much need around us every day, Project SHARE is such a blessing for our seniors and those with disabilities,” said Powell. “For hundreds of people every year, Project SHARE is a game changer. As a result, some of their burdens are lifted and the light of hope is allowed to shine again on them.”

Vanessa Tyner of Brundidge found hope in Project SHARE when she had trouble making ends meet after having to quit her job to care for her husband. Three times a week, Tyner and her husband had to make the hourlong drive to Dothan for his dialysis treatments, which created unexpected expenses.

“I thank God for Project SHARE because it was there when we needed it,” she said. “We were spending so much money on gas to take my husband to dialysis and living on one income. It really helped us out by not having that burden and allowing us to be able to pay our bills.”

McGhee and Tyner are now grateful for the difference Project SHARE has made in their lives and they urge others to contribute.

“It was a relief. I feel like a burden was lifted off of me because I found something to help me,” McGhee said. “When I was working, I was able to pay my power bill and I always saw the option to give to Project SHARE. I always chose that option on my bill, but never really knew what it was for. I now know what I was giving to and I would now encourage others to do the same because you never know what position you might find yourself in.”

Project SHARE is supported by donations from customers of Alabama Power and electric cooperatives, with Alabama Power customers contributing the largest share.

How to contribute to Project SHARE:

  • Give directly to Project SHARE through the Salvation Army by calling 205-328-2420.
  • Mail donations to: The Salvation Army, 2015 26th Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35234. Designate “Project SHARE” on the check.
  • Agree to contribute monthly by checking the “Project SHARE” box on your power bill or sign up online.

Customers wanting to request energy assistance through Project SHARE can apply at their local Salvation Army office or by calling 205-328-2420.

For more information about Project SHARE, visit https://salvationarmyalm.org/birmingham/project-share/.