Willie Fort, known by friends and family as "Dino," worked as an instructor at the UA's School of Social Work from 1972-1976 before joining the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority as Director of Social Services. In 1984, he was promoted to Assistant Executive Director of the Housing Authority, a position he still holds today.
Dino works to help the homeless acquire decent, safe, and affordable housing and collaborates with other community and faith-based organizations to provide resources to those in need. He has been involved in many positions of community leadership to ensure that the concerns of the less fortunate are addressed. This is his passion.
His life's work was never more evident than in the days that followed the April 27 tornado, which destroyed much of the Housing Authority's Rosedale Court. He worked tirelessly to find housing and resources for residents devastated by the loss of homes and property.
Dino is also an effective advocate in the political realm for causes that improve the quality of life for West Alabamians. He is a man who brings joy and positive forces into the lives of those he encounters. And this community has truly benefited from his giving spirit.
Fred Hahn has excelled in the areas of business, philanthropy, and humanitarian works during his long career. He's been in business in Tuscaloosa for 50 years and continues to be successful in his trucking and industrial warehouse firms Service Express Truck Line, Tuscaloosa Warehouse, Inc., and Industrial Warehouse Services, Inc., in addition to building and selling businesses elsewhere in the South.
Fred is a strong believer in giving back to his community and has been associated with many charitable causes through many years, especially the new hospice facility located next to the VA Hospital, which is named for his wife. He enjoys giving his time and resources to improve our community and to help those in need. And he's known for giving these things without fanfare.
Jim Harrison, III is a Tuscaloosa native whose community service resume is exemplary, and his personal commitment to civic, charitable, and cultural organizations in West Alabama gives new meaning to the term "generous."
Jim's interest in art began as a young boy. Indulging his interest in photography in high school and college, he also studied art history while at the UA. In 1974, Jim began a 23-year career with the family business, Harco Drug Stores, Inc., which ended in 1997 when it merged with Rite Aid. Jim then bought and renovated the first drug store owned and operated by his grandfather. This became Harrison Galleries, a dealer in 19th and early 20th-century American and European paintings and vintage and contemporary photography.
Jim currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, a board he was initially appointed to by Governor Bob Riley in 2005. Jim is a veteran supporter of nonprofit, charitable, and cultural organizations in our area and has been at the helm of many efforts that have resulted in making Tuscaloosa County a richer place to live.
Tom Joiner's career as a college student then professional geologist landed him in Tuscaloosa in 1961. Tom's career flourished, and he founded his own geological and hydrological services firm here. A man with strong religious faith and a belief in helping the less fortunate, he became an exceptional citizen leader whose service has touched countless lives in our community.
His efforts have positively affected education, business and economic development, health care, and our quality of life. But Tom's lasting impact may be best exemplified by his leadership and guidance of a program to help disadvantaged children get a better start in life through improved early education: he helped guide the United Way's Success By Six program from the very start and continues to guide it today. The City of Tuscaloosa expanded on this and is now home to a nationally recognized Pre-K program.
Rev. Pradat graduated from the UA in 1952 before attending divinity school in Tennessee. After serving several churches there, he returned to Tuscaloosa and began serving as priest of Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa in 1973, where he stayed for almost 25 years.
He immersed himself in our community and, in these early days, was selected to be on a committee making an effort to enhance race relations in the city school system. He was seen as open-minded and committed to social justice for all. He was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Tuscaloosa County DHR in 1979, an agency serving our most impoverished citizens. He was elected chairman in 1990, a post he still holds to this day. He has a reputation for fairness, respect for others, and a sincere desire to eliminate hunger in his community. The latter led to the formation of the first Soup Bowl in 1982, which has grown over the years. He was also a founding partner of Operation Warm Up, providing shelter for the homeless in inclement weather, as well as the first hospice for our area. His fingerprints on our community help us to remember that the most noble of all work is that done for those who cannot do for themselves.