By Emily Williams
For Darwin Metcalf, success in business doesn’t mean as much if you don’t give a little back.
“We owe a debt to the other people in our community who don’t have as much,” he said.
Serving as president and chief operating officer of Western Supermarkets, Metcalf leads the company every day. But for years he has been lending his leadership and business skills to charitable organizations around the Birmingham area. It is leadership in both realms of his life that have led the Assistance League of Birmingham to name Metcalf, a longtime board member for the organization, as the honoree of its inaugural One Starry Night gala April 27.
As an honoree of the event, he sees his role as an opportunity to expand the scope of the league by reaching out and educating the people in his community of peers and co-workers about the Assistance League.
“We all have something to offer,” he said, “Whether you’re packing hygiene kits for school children or helping with a water stop at the Mercedes Marathon.”
A member of the Homewood Rotary Club, Metcalf came across the Homewood-based league years ago. He has volunteered with the organization since then and for the past 10 years has been on the league’s advisory board. What originally drew him to the organization was hearing the stories of the children who benefit from the league’s Operation School Bell program.
Through that program, the league outfits elementary students in need from across the greater Birmingham area with hygiene kits and new clothes for school. Metcalf noted that he can relate to many of the kids who benefit from the programs. Having grown up at a financial disadvantage, Metcalf recalls a time in his youth when he had only two sets of clothing.
The stories Metcalf has heard and seen as a volunteer range from an 8-year old receiving the first toothbrush of his own to a child asking for his first coat to be a few sizes larger so he could share it with his older brother.
“That is what I love about the league,” Metcalf said. “It’s getting to the grass roots. When you look at the funds and the numbers, you know how much really gets to the kid. The league is putting it directly in that child’s hand.
“They’ll look at the numbers and say, ‘Well, if we cut back here and save this amount of money, that’s one more child we can clothe,’” he said.
One of the things he respects most about the women who lead the organization is how mindful they are of where every last dime is spent. Proceeds from the upcoming gala will benefit the league’s three philanthropic efforts. It provides clothes and books to nearly 2,000 area students through its Operation School Bell and Operation Literacy projects, and it gives seniors the opportunity to sell goods for a profit through PrimeTime Treasures.
One Starry Night will be held at The Club and will feature music by Total A$$ets, silent and live auctions, dinner and more. The event is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and tickets are $250.
According to event chairwoman Cindy Wade, one of the highlights of the evening will be the items up for auction. Items include big ticket packages such as a trip to Tuscany, Italy, a dove-hunting adventure in Argentina, a vacation in Orange Beach, and, for the speed racer, three motorsports packages taking the winners to Talladega Superspeedway, Barber Motorsports Park or Autobahn Indoor Speedway.
For more information, visit Shops of Assistance League in Homewood or online at assistanceleaguebhm.org/.