Written by Hattie O’Hara, Development Manager at Breakthrough Birmingham

YR4YR is all about putting a spotlight on recurring giving. When I first started thinking about this campaign, I went back to our records to find who our current recurring donors are. There was one name that repeated monthly – over and over and over for the past 33 months straight. The name was Ralph Hendrix, and he is Breakthrough Birmingham’s longest recurring donor.

I didn’t know Ralph at the time. All I knew was his name and his phone number, so I gave him a call to thank him for his many gifts. Just in case, I prepared myself for a response like, “I thought I canceled that years ago.” But the voice on the other line spoke to me like this was our 33rd call. I knew I wanted to share about his generosity through this campaign, so I asked if he would be willing to meet. He said I could join him at Railroad Park, where he goes for his daily walk after dropping his grandson off at school each morning.

Ralph’s introduction to Breakthrough

Ralph knows Breakthrough because his grandson, Keilan, is a former Breakthrough Scholar. “He has been living with me since five years of age,” Ralph says, including firmly, “God does work in mysterious ways.” Ralph signed up Keilan for Breakthrough when he was in the 6th grade. Keilan is in 10th grade now, but the impact that the program had on his grandson still sticks with Ralph – enough to move him to continue giving every month.

“He loved Breakthrough. You all carried him on numerous trips. I know they went to the museum in Montgomery and went to Auburn and Tuskegee,” Ralph remembers. “I cannot see any child not benefiting from the program, I’ll be honest with you. I cannot see any child not benefiting.”

Ralph found Breakthrough because he wanted to find another layer of academic support for Keilan. He had already sought out a tutor for him when he was in 5th grade, but entering middle school, he knew his grandson could benefit from more resources.

He remembers, “Your program was an incentive for him, but it was also an inspiration for me. I had been hunting for people or an organization that would look toward helping children who needed more help than what they were getting in school.”

“I know what education can do for him, and I didn’t want him to be denied that,” he says. “With Breakthrough, he had all the wheels turning in the right direction.”


Ralph’s impact as a monthly donor

In my conversation with Ralph, I asked him a frank question. I said, “It’s easy to see why you choose to give because you have seen firsthand the impact Breakthrough has had on your grandson. But many people I talk to will never have a child be a Breakthrough scholar. What would you say to that person?”

He thought for a while. He ultimately said, “I would first get them to acknowledge that there is a problem with education. If they acknowledge that, then I’d tell them I know of a program that my grandson went through that greatly contributed to his development.” He added, “Breakthrough was that tool that was missing, that motivated him. It gave him the view for a future for himself.”

Ralph’s monthly gifts have added up over the years. There is no doubt his continued support of Breakthrough is impacting lives, just like his grandson’s was impacted years ago.

“Whatever the funds can do for you all, I want to support you. If it does anything to help you all to continue, I want you to continue existing,” Ralph says. “And if I could ever make a larger donation, I would truly do so. I appreciate you all – you don’t know how much I appreciate you all.”

Becoming a recurring donor like Ralph allows organizations like Breakthrough to plan proactively with your gift rather than respond to it reactively. It takes your dollar further in our work and is one way to ensure that your donation is working hard when you choose to give.

Click here to become a monthly donor.

Keep up with Breakthrough Birmingham!