The Family Place

Foundation / Health and Human Services, Volunteerism / APSO

“When you have a loved one who is sick, everyone is in need,” says Tammie Williams, the Alabama Power employee who has been a champion for the Family Place over its twenty year history.

This simple statement is the thread upon which this Alabama Power company-sponsored facility was founded and has meant so much to people in need coming to Birmingham for medical care over the years. Three apartments within walking distance to world-class medical care make up the Family Place.

They are free on a first come, first serve basis and managed by twenty-nine Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) volunteers logging over 800 hours a year. These volunteers make sure each apartment is clean, ready and scheduled appropriately, but often they go above and beyond the call of duty. Some have gone grocery shopping with guests, others have met guests at the airport and all are on call at all hours to ensure each guest has one less worry when away from home for medical care. 

Twenty years and over 5,000 visitors from all over the country can put a lot of wear and tear on a place which is why Tammie and her team set out to renovate the Family Place last October. “We wanted the Family Place to feel like home,” says Tammie. “We’ve replaced things that have worn out or been torn up over the years, but we’ve never had the funds for a complete overhaul.”

The Alabama Power volunteer organizations – APSO and the Energizers – stepped up with nearly $40,000 by doing projects and fundraisers all over the state. “We thought we’d have apply for a grant or do the projects a little at a time,” says Tammie, “but generous funding from the Energizers and APSO chapters around the state has allowed us to do all the renovations at once. I’m so grateful to those guys and girls for making it happen.”

Williams, along with former Family Place coordinators Steve Heald, Accounting supervisor, and his wife, Dana, worked with Anne Borland, a decorator from Issis and Sons Flooring and Rug Gallery, to update the apartments.

They sought a warm, cozy look for these homes away from home. Each apartment is decorated using earthy tones, such as gold, brown, red and beige, Williams said. The old carpets have been replaced by hardwood floors, which are easier to clean, more sanitary and better for handicap accessibility.

Along with hanging new curtains on all the windows, the old vinyl blinds have been swapped for more up-to-date wooden ones. Other new furnishings include sofas and chairs for the living rooms; several beds; and accessories such as lamps and chandeliers. There are even baskets full of games and puzzles in each apartment.

Tammie remembers one story in particular that emphasizes the importance of the Family Place and keeping it clean and nice. “This young woman has a baby at Children’s and can’t afford a hotel, so with the little money she had, she hired someone to drive her up to Birmingham everyday – leaving little money to eat. She heard about the Family Place by word of mouth and was able to stay for 4 days. She arrived with her belongings in plastic bags and upon entering the apartment, said, ‘Wow, this is better than any house I’ve ever had.’”

One of the newly appointed bedrooms at The Family Place.