Why did you choose to become a member of UWWA’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society?
My family started a non-profit family foundation last year called the Hewson Family Foundation. We wanted to give back to the communities that my parents, my brother, and I all live in and we decided that this would be the best way to do so. The foundation focuses on children’s education and trying to help young people be more prepared for success in the future. In Fort Worth, Texas where my brother lives we are very involved with the United Way, specifically setting up something called a GO Center at a middle school in Fort Worth. This center provides mentoring and intervention to help make sure that at-risk students are attending class and making good grades as well as giving them college and career guidance for the future. The Go Centers also provide hands on learning activities, mentoring, computers for the students to use, parent engagement events, and a number of other benefits to the students. This program has helped a lot of students in the community and will continue to do so in the future. After learning about this program and working with them through our family foundation, I decided to talk to the United Way here in Tuscaloosa, where I have lived since 2009, and see what kind of programs they had to offer. Working with Jackie and the rest of the great people at the United Way of West Alabama, we found two initiatives through the success by 6 readiness program that we were passionate about and fit well with the mission of our foundation: The Dolly Parton Imagination Library and the Getting Ready for Kindergarten Calendars. We wanted to be involved with both of these programs and really help to make a difference with the young children in West Alabama so we decided to donate to these two great programs. I became a member of the ADT society because my family and I are passionate about helping people and we want to continue to help make a difference in West Alabama for many years to come.
How did you become interested in investing in UWWA’s Success by 6 school readiness program?
Initially I hadn’t thought about how important early childhood education is especially before age 6. Hearing about how this program affects these children and helps to set them up for future success made me very interested in investing in this program. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library providing books to young children not only promotes reading and learning from a young age, but also helps to get the parents involved and reading to and with their children. Also, for a lot of these kids the books that are provided are the only books they have in their house.
The same thing goes for the calendars. This really helps to get the children prepared for future success extremely early in their lives. It once again gets parents involved as well which is really important.
Who has inspired you to give back to your community?
Mostly my parents. My parents did not come from very wealthy families and had to work extremely hard to get where they are today. Because of this they taught my brother and I not to take things for granted and to realize how lucky and blessed we really are. This goes hand in hand with giving back to the community. We are so fortunate to live the life that we do and I know that there are many many people that are less fortunate than we are. I truly want to give back to the community and help those people in need to help make an impact in the community. I hope that our donations and service can lead to a better life for everyone in the community. My family and I especially realize the importance of education and how it can be an agent of change in the community and help young people to get out of unfortunate situations and become successful in the future.
Do you have a favorite inspirational story/quote?
We had a pastor when we were in high school that gave a speech about “choosing joy” and it has always stuck with me. Basically you can go through life focusing on the bad and the pain and the struggles that you may have, or you can choose joy instead. I like to think about that often and I strive to “choose joy” in my own life. Everyone can find positivity and joy in some aspect in their life and generally those that can find and choose that joy will live a much happier and more fulfilling life.
What do you do when you are not enjoying ADT events?
I currently work at the University of Alabama in Financial Affairs and am taking a few classes each semester to earn a Master’s degree in Economics as well. This obviously keeps me fairly busy! I also live with my girlfriend of five years, Alison Ferrer, who is also very involved with our foundation and with volunteering in the community. We both graduated from the University of Alabama so you can find us cheering in Bryant-Denny on most weekends in the fall. You will generally find Alison and I walking our dog around our neighborhood and enjoying all that Tuscaloosa has to offer. I also love to play golf whenever I can (which is not as often as I would like!)
What might ADT members be surprised to know about Will Hewson?
Even though I grew up in Texas, Tuscaloosa has always been like a second home to me. Both of my parents went to the University and that is actually where they met. My Grandma lived in Northport and I have a ton of family members that live in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, so naturally the majority of our Thanksgivings and Christmases were spent here. I have loved the Crimson Tide since birth, and there are pictures of me wearing Alabama clothing before I could even walk.
I turn 25 years old in January so Alison and I may be the youngest ADT members, but we plan on sticking around for a while and contributing all we can to this great community.