Thanks to the generosity of a long-time member, Lucille Stewart Beeson, Canterbury United Methodist Church in Mountain Brook was given a marvelous opportunity 20 years ago to make a positive impact in the Birmingham area.
In 2001, Beeson died, and her estate — valued in 2001 at $168 million — was left in trust to 12 agencies in the Birmingham area, according to canterburyumc.org/beeson-trust.
That account is now valued at almost $200 million, and Canterbury UMC was granted 10.6% of the interest on this money.
Canterbury’s mission was to find ways to address the needy elderly in Jefferson County, including health care.
For the last 15 years, a team of church members receive proposals from agencies, attend site visits with applying agencies and meet quarterly to allocate funds.
One of the most recent agencies to receive financial support from Canterbury UMC is Neighborhood Housing Services of Birmingham.
The NHSB seeks to help stabilize urban neighborhoods in the Birmingham and surrounding areas by promoting personal financial empowerment and homeownership, according to a news release from the nonprofit.
The Beeson Trust recently gave the NHSB a grant to help support the nonprofit’s Healthy Housing Initiative, which helps senior citizens repair or rehabilitate their homes in the West End, Ensley, Pratt City, East Lake, Woodlawn, Titusville, and Fountain Heights communities.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Beeson Trust to rehab homes specifically for our community’s senior citizens,” said Kelleigh Gamble, the NHSB executive director. “This funding will directly impact local seniors’ ability to stay in their homes and age in place safely.”
The nonprofit currently has 1,120 seniors on a waiting list to receive assistance with major repairs to their homes.
NHSB ensures repairs and efficient upgrades through rigorous energy audits conducted by a third-party entity contracted through the Office of Community Development at the city of Birmingham.
This effort is especially important now, given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, Gamble said.
“Our senior community members, in particular, have been impacted by the pandemic both from a health and financial standpoint,” she said. “Getting their homes safely updated with roof repairs/replacements, HVAC, electrical and plumbing repairs will make all the difference in improving their quality of life and overall health as well.”
The mission of the NHSB is to make investments in both people and real estate in Jefferson County that are predominantly Black and low-income.
The organization tries to give families the tools they need to emerge from poverty and achieve financial stability.
The NHSB seeks to provide safe, affordable housing options for working families whose household income is too much to qualify for subsidized housing, but do not earn enough to afford housing at current market rates.
Article originally published here