Courtesy of The Crimson White
A new playground in Phil Campbell, Ala. will bring a little normalcy back to the small community devastated by the April 27 tornadoes.
Two nonprofit organizations, Alabama Forever and Nick’s Kids Fund, have teamed up to bring a place for families to spend time together back to the community.
Alex Sokol founded Alabama Forever on April 28, 2011, one day after the storm. He said he is happy to be able to give to a community that lost so much.
“Phil Campbell is a town of 1000, and 27 died,” Sokol said. “That is roughly three percent of their population. So, for us to be able to bring a tiny, tiny, little bit of normalcy and joy into kids’ and families’ lives is an honor to be a part of. It’s a blessing to us. We’re so happy to do this for them.”
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his wife Terry Saban founded Nick’s Kids Fund to assist with the needs of children when Nick Saban coached at Michigan State. Terry Saban agreed that the playground is important to the recovery of the community.
“The devastation that the city of Phil Campbell experienced in the tragic tornadoes of April 27, 2011 was incredible,” Terry Saban said. “Nick’s Kids Fund is honored to work alongside Alabama Forever to help resurrect a place of community fellowship and remembrance for the area. We are optimistic that the playground for young children will encourage hope for those affected by the storm.”
Sokol said he is thankful for the relationship Alabama Forever has with Nick’s Kids Fund.
“My favorite quote from Nick Saban is, ‘You cannot be a leader without serving others,’” Sokol said. “I have taken that to heart, and we are grateful to have this relationship.”
Both organizations have already completed other tornado relief projects and have plans for more in the future.
Alabama Forever has ongoing projects around the state. Sokol said the mission statement of the organization was left open-ended so those who most needed help could receive it.
“We started by giving out water, food, diapers and stuff like that, but we wanted to steer away from the supply game,” Sokol said. “We wanted a more lasting impact. We left the mission statement open-ended so we could help communities in need, affected by the tornado or not. We want to help communities as a whole, rather than individual families. We want to work on stuff for whole communities that have a multi-generational impact, like this playground.”
Sokol, who quit his job to start and run Alabama Forever, said the organization has been spiritually satisfying for him.
“I can’t even describe how blessed I feel,” Sokol said. “There was never a moment of listing pros and cons or wondering what I should do. God spoke directly to me, and I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world.”
For more information on Nick’s Kids Fund or Alabama Forever, visit their respective websites at nickskidsfund.com and alabamaforever.org.
Nick's Kids Foundation