I spent Thursday traveling to and from Arkansas, for the sole purpose of emceeing the Annual Kids' Chance of Arkansas Scholarship Awards Luncheon. It was held in the Governors' Mansion in Little Rock.
The facility was beautiful.
The food was excellent.
The kids were, as with all Kids' Chance scholars, inspirational.
Still, there was something else that stood out to me; something that would benefit other state chapters if they would be so lucky to attain it. It was, simply, the presence and involvement of the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission and other related agencies. The Chairman of the AWCC, Dale Douthit, was in attendance and serves on the KC of Arkansas Board of Directors. One of his employees, Lisa Underwood, also serves on the board and is heavily involved in the operation. The agency is active in financial support of the group, and they even link to Kids' Chance on their agency website.
Additionally, Robert Montgomery of the Arkansas Insurance Department serves on the board.
They serve alongside a healthy complement of private industry stakeholders. Nathan Culp, who is with the Arkansas Insurance Department, was also in attendance.
If the commitment of Arkansas state government to Kids' Chance was doubted by anyone, that suspicion should have evaporated with the appearance of Asa Hutchinson, Governor of Arkansas. Mr. Hutchinson went from table to table, meeting and greeting attendees, and then (after telling me he was happy I was the one who had to speak) briefly addressed the assembled.
Me with the Governor. I probably had lettuce in my teeth.
Governor Hutchinson Addresses the Group
If you had any question about Arkansas government commitment to the Kids' Chance cause, you can rest assured it is strong. Strong, indeed.
Governor Hutchinson, The "Kids", and Me
There are other states I know of where similar involvement of state agencies is making a difference for Kids' Chance. Texas has a very involved commissioner in the form of Ryan Brannan. Maine, likewise, is currently putting a chapter together under the patient tutelage of Comp Chairman Paul Sighinolfi. There may be others – I just do not know.
Many agencies have started including Kids' Chance as a charitable endeavor as part of annual conferences and other training events. Still, I've seen no state commitment like I witnessed Thursday in Arkansas.
Why is this important? An involved and committed agency has data, reach and influence that most private sector counterparts simply cannot equal. Regulatory bodies can set a more urgent tone, and lend strong credibility to the effort. It makes sense, really. Kids' Chance makes sense for the workers' compensation industry because it extends what we do as an industry. These are our families; our kids. We make a living helping them and managing their care. Kids' Chance is a way to give back, and to show that the industry cares.
That works for any organization, public or private. And the results of this partnership? This year Arkansas, a small state by population, gave out 25 scholarships to kids in need.
I hope other agencies take notice and start expanding their support of this most worthy cause. The melding of private and public sector makes beautiful music. And, you never know; some day one of the kids in need might be their own.
This article was published early, since I was stuck on a plane for 3 hours on the tarmac at Little Rock and had some extra time on my hands. When there is a ground stop in Atlanta, there is a ground stop everywhere it seems. For all we know, I'm still here as you read this......
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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