Many people know Birmingham for its history as a city central to the early civil rights movement. While the city was built in the decades after the abolition of slavery, racial divides and disparity have always been part of life here, which is part of the dynamic that made Birmingham a significant city in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, located across the street from the historic Kelly Ingram Park and Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, plays an important role in educating locals and visitors about civil rights history. The Institute and other local organizations also seek to break through the racial divides that are still present in this city. Birmingham is also known for its mining. Birmingham played an important role as an industrial center for iron and steel production, which fueled its initial growth as a city — it is the only place where the three minerals necessary to make steel can all be found in close proximity. Visiting The Vulcan, the largest cast iron statue in the US, you can get an idea of the importance of this industry in the past and how it influences the economics of the city presently. Today Birmingham has become known as a progressive center for medical research, banking, music, technology, art, engineering and higher education. However, the city is also working to find creative solutions to serve and support a large number of residents who struggle with poverty and homelessness.
Serving in Birmingham
- Plan and lead kids programming for children in the community, including Bible lessons, games, crafts and reading.
- Partner with local organizations to meet ongoing needs in the community.
- During the week, students may serve at one or more of the above service options.
Groups coming to serve the community of Birmingham will be overwhelmed by the southern hospitality they experience from everyone they meet – from YouthWorks’ housing partner to the ministry sites where they volunteer. During the day participants will serve the community through children’s programs, housing programs and outreach to the elderly and homeless. In the evenings there will be opportunities to visit The Vulcan statue, tour historic civil rights sites and spend time with neighbors and new friends at a community cookout. The city of Birmingham is a great place for teenagers to interact with, learn about, and serve a unique group of people directly affected by a history that has influenced the whole country (and to experience some exceptional sweet tea and BBQ!)
YouthWorks has been serving in the community of Birmingham each summer since 2004. Birmingham housed YouthWorks’ Southeast Region hub office from 2003 to 2011, and a number of staff have moved to Birmingham after serving there during the summer.