Volunteering cures what 'ales' him

Alex Lawley takes a hands-on approach to community service.

September 25, 2020

Alex Lawley always shows up because that’s what volunteers do.

His love for volunteerism started in college.

“I saw people in need, but rarely had money to give them,” says Lawley, consumer lending manager at $1.7 billion asset America’s First Federal Credit Union in Birmingham, Ala.

“But I did have time to give, so that’s what I did. Big projects, small projects—I was always looking for hands-on projects to get involved with.”

Today, he’s committed to United Way Hands On, a volunteer group that sponsors and conducts area charitable activities. One effort he’s especially keyed into is repainting and landscaping inner-city schools.

Another is an annual event where Hands on Birmingham rents an auditorium and invites homeless people to come in and take advantage of a range of services.

“We’ll hand out bags with soap and toothbrushes, but we do more,” Lawley says. “Attorneys are on hand to advise visitors on how get a license or deal with a warrant, while volunteer doctors offer free checkups.”

He’s also involved with charitable activities sponsored at his church, Grace Life Baptist.

In his day job, Lawley and his team have been closing more loans than ever despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by using remote electronic signatures to close loans.

“Before COVID-19, we would send documents to a branch for members to see on paper, but we now do it all electronically,” he says. “It has changed the way we interact with members and, in a way, we’ve opened Pandora’s box. Members will want to do all of their transactions, including loan closings, online.”

As someone who has done as much work electronically as possible, Lawley says he is happy to see more credit unions using electronic options to assist members.

But he does take a hands-on approach for another endeavor: brewing beer.

“I’ve brewed a lot of different beers, most of them with a touch of bitterness and a lot of hops,” Lawley says. “I’m an IPA guy.”

The strongest batch he’s made is a whiskey barrel stout, which isn’t for the faint of heart.

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