By Keysha Drexel
When he first started volunteering at Cornerstone Schools of Alabama in 2009, Tommy Mayfield was a little uneasy about going out into the community and asking for money to help the school, he said.
But the 32-year-old Mountain Brook resident said when he thought about the Cornerstone students he had met, any reluctance to do whatever he could to help them disappeared.
Mayfield is the junior board president at Cornerstone Schools of Alabama, a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school.
“When I got to know the kids, I was more determined than ever to make sure they had every opportunity in the world to succeed,” Mayfield said.
The nonprofit Christian school in Woodlawn serves primarily inner-city children in Birmingham. In June 2013, it became the first elementary school in Birmingham to gain status as an International Baccalaureate World School primary school.
Mayfield became involved with the school through his lifelong friend, Hindley Brigham, who was a teacher at Cornerstone.
“They had a boys’ and girls’ basketball team with fourth, fifth and sixth-graders and needed some help coaching, so I jumped in and tried to coach them,” Mayfield said. “I think we lost every single game, but I had so much fun with the kids and learned a lot about what they are trying to do at Cornerstone.”
Cornerstone was founded in 1993 by the late C. Molton Williams along with area business and community leaders “seeking to intervene in the cycle of poverty, which is perpetuated by a lack of access to quality education,” according to the school’s website.
Mayfield, an attorney at Maynard Cooper & Gale in Birmingham, said he often wonders about how his life’s path might have been different if he hadn’t had access to a quality education.
“I grew up in Mountain Brook and was very fortunate to go to school there. A good education is a gift, one that has a profound impact, and that’s something I’ve really thought about as I’ve gotten older,” he said. “I don’t think it should matter where you were born or where you live when it comes to having the opportunity to get a good education.”
With that philosophy in mind, Mayfield has spent the last four years working behind the scenes to make sure Cornerstone Schools has the resources it needs for its students.
Mayfield has headed up the school’s annual Schoolhouse Rock fundraiser for the past few years. The event has brought in about $340,000 for Cornerstone during that time.
“We really feel blessed to have a junior board that is so dedicated and hard working. Truly each one of them is a stand-out member to us,” said India Bailey, the school’s development associate. “However, our junior board president, Tommy Mayfield, is the driving force behind our junior board. He consistently goes above and beyond for the junior board and our school.”
Mayfield downplays the time and energy he has devoted to the school and said volunteering and helping others is just part of his personal faith.
“My faith as a Christian is certainly a motivating factor, and I just believe that we’re given a gift with the opportunity to serve others,” he said.
Mayfield said he learned the importance of service to others from his father, Tom Mayfield, who is involved with The Foundry, a Christ-centered rescue mission and recovery center in Bessemer.
“My father and my friend Hindley Brigham’s father, Tommy Brigham, have always been involved in helping different organizations, and that kind of service is something that I saw growing up,” he said.
Mayfield has been married for seven years and has a 3-year-old-daughter and a 10-month-old daughter. He said being a father has strengthened his desire to give back to the community and to make sure all children have access to good schools.
“You really begin to understand that we are all the same and want the same things for our children, and it motivates you to make those opportunities available to everyone’s children,” he said.
Mayfield said he encourages other young professionals in the Birmingham metro area to take time to give back to the community.
“It’s an exciting time to be in Birmingham, and there are a lot of positive things starting to happen,” he said. “I want more people to take pride and ownership in our city so that we can work together to make it better for everyone.”