Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas is proud to partner with the United Way organizations in the Topeka, Salina, Wichita and Hutchinson communities. Every year, employees and retirees volunteer their resources through community service projects and financial donations that help people in those communities.
In Topeka, BCBSKS employees also have the opportunity to serve as campaign ambassadors for the United Way of Greater Topeka (UWGT). In this role, they visit area businesses to assist with their United Way campaigns, share their personal United Way story and generate excitement for the United Way efforts community-wide.
This year risk management coordinator Missy Addington and workforce development coordinator Kelli Klecan are serving as ambassadors. We recently asked them to share what their experience has been like.
What attracted you to volunteering as an ambassador this year?
Missy: Two years ago, I took the United Way bus tour. It really touched my heart and I wanted to give back to my community. Being an ambassador was the perfect opportunity.
Kelli: My boss and a couple of steering committee members actually reached out to me. They thought this work would be a good fit for me, and that I would be a great BCBSKS ambassador in the community.
Is there something the community might be surprised to learn about the United Way of Greater Topeka and its work?
Missy: The employees of the UWGT are very passionate about the work that they do. It’s really heart-warming to see such a small group accomplish such amazing things. They have been awarded the Pacesetter Award three times from the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Specifically, the Campaign was cited for exemplary work in eliminating barriers faced by children from low-income families on the path to becoming proficient readers.
Kelli: If you are like me, you have heard of UWGT, you might even give, but do you actually know what UWGT does or where your dollars go? I didn’t. As an ambassador, I have learned the UWGT brings together people, companies, non-profits, organizations, and agencies to create positive and sustainable change in our community. It works to solve issues no single donor, charity, or government agency can handle alone.
Random insight I’ve learned: ZIP code is a better determinant of success than genetic code. Kids can be behind before they are even born simply based on the ZIP code they will live in. We need to have all children in our community regardless of where they are born ready to succeed.
Why was it important for you to be an ambassador?
Missy: Being an ambassador gave me the opportunity to meet different people across the community. The United Way provided us with an environment to work together. My thought was, who doesn’t want the chance to represent BCBSKS in our community, meet new people, learn new things, give back, and try something new? It was a win-win for me!
Kelli: Topeka is my hometown. It is where I was born and raised. It shaped who I am. I am honored to partner with the United Way of Greater Topeka as we fight for the education, financial stability and health of everyone in our community. I feel blessed to play a small role in building brighter futures for individuals, families, schools, neighborhoods, and our entire community.