Heroes of COVID-19: Walker Area Community Foundation, Julie Broadway among those to be honored at 27th annual International Quality of Life Awards

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In light of the heroic actions by people, partnerships and organizations amid a global pandemic, the Auburn University College of Human Sciences’ 2020 International Quality of Life Awards, or IQLA, will recognize heroes, such as the members of the Walker Area Community Foundation and Julie Broadway, for their work improving quality of life through an unprecedented year.

The Walker Area Community Foundation, or WACF, is a nonprofit serving the charitable needs of Walker County, Alabama, and its surrounding areas. When schools closed in March, WACF worked with the school system and nonprofits to provide school lunches to children in need. The foundation also helped organize an initiative that provided families and seniors with groceries, implemented an emergency grant process, launched a help hotline for out-of-work individuals and assisted rehoming families and repairing homes after a tornado struck the area in April.

President Paul Kennedy hopes the foundation’s award will inspire others to improve well-being in their own communities.

“For most disasters, there’s a beginning, a middle and an end, and this one just seems to have a beginning. We don’t even know if we’re at the middle,” Kennedy said. “So, to be recognized by Auburn University, the College of Human Sciences, for an IQLA is reinvigorating, but I hope it’s also encouraging to others to say, ‘We can do that, too.’”

Julie Broadway, of the Huntsville, Alabama, real estate development company The Broadway Group, established a virtual learning center. She provided facilitators for students’ classroom assistance and tutoring, as well as after-school care in the Broadway Gymnastics Center for employees of The Broadway Group and families currently enrolled in the gymnastics center.

This initiative also benefitted employees of a local salon, many of them single parents, who needed assistance with virtual school and after-school care, as all three local public school systems announced their closings. 

Broadway said she established the family resources by applying what she would want for her children if she were an employee in that situation.

“Offering help was never a question,” she said. “The parents of these children, I knew their lives were going to change, they were going to suffer, and the business was going to suffer because employees wouldn’t be able to come to work. Growing up, I can remember so many people who helped me through the years, and now it’s my turn.”

Traditionally, the College of Human Sciences holds IQLA in New York City, accompanied by a study tour for students. While the event will be held on Dec. 7 through a virtual format, the mission remains the same: honoring people, partnerships and organizations that have made significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world. This year’s honorees represent numerous states, include health care workers, volunteers, grocery stores and ministries, to name only a few.

All IQLA honorarium gifts will support the endowment of the Spirit of IQLA Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a student or students who demonstrate a passion for improving the well-being of individuals, families and communities.

“Our thanks to everyone who has taken part in this year’s IQLA by honoring a Hero of COVID-19 and through their giving, established the new Spirit of IQLA Endowed Scholarship fund,” said College of Human Sciences Dean Susan Hubbard. “It is so inspiring to hear the stories of those who have persevered through this challenging year, strengthening their resolve and fueling their creativity to find new ways to enhance the lives around them, and this scholarship will pave the way for our students to do the same.”

For more information on the 27th annual International Quality of Life Awards and to watch the event on Monday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. CST, visit iqla.auburn.edu.

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