And This Organization Called and Said I Was Going to School
Many of us this morning involved in the Kids' Chance organization are coming off an extraordinary weekend of education, fun and fellowship. The annual Kids' Chance Conference just concluded was held May 2 – 4, right here in my home city of Sarasota, FL. Kids' Chance of Florida, Inc., was extremely proud to host this group.
Kids' Chance is a non-profit group dedicated to providing scholarships and educational opportunities to children of a parent who has been seriously injured or was killed on the job. It is largely staffed and funded by professionals within the workers' compensation industry. The national Kids' Chance of America (KCOA) exists to support 47 state organizations and affiliates with training, education, best practices and fundraising at a national level. All scholarships are awarded by the individual state organizations.
One of the highlights of the recent conference was the inclusion of two students who are currently “Kids' Chance Scholars,” and are attending college with assistance from Kids' Chance of Florida (KCFL). The presentation by one of them at the Friday night awards banquet was especially poignant. Her name is Gabriela, and she is a multiple year recipient of the KCFL “TJ STEM Scholarship,” which is worth $10,000 per year. She struggled with her emotional message (mostly because the bozo who introduced her made her cry – sorry about that…). She spoke of her life and the challenges her family faced due to her father's workplace injury. She told us of her appreciation for the assistance provided by Kids' Chance. And it was her description of the financial challenges she faced that really hit home with me, and I suspect, most of the audience.
She had been describing how she had so badly wanted to attend college. She wanted to be a doctor, specializing in Orthopedic surgery (although her interest in Pediatrics is now growing). She took dual enrollment and AP courses in high school, earning an Associates Degree from a local community college concurrently with her high school graduation. Her parents, both immigrants to this country who never had the opportunity to finish high school, encouraged her to pursue her dream and promised whatever assistance they could muster, but the prospects were bleak. She really wondered if going to college, burdening herself and her family with untold debt would be the right thing to do.
But then she told the audience, “and then this organization called and said I was going to school.”
It was a quote that really stuck with me. Kids' Chance didn't just give her money. They didn't just help her with her finances. They told her that the obstacle to her goals had just been obliterated. She was going to school, and something that a few seconds before that call had seemed an unlikely aspiration was suddenly a very strong reality.
Kids' Chance for her was fulfilling a dream. That is what the organization has been doing for over 30 years, for over 7,000 kids and to the tune of more than $21 million.
The conference was filled with educational sessions, group meetings and national updates. It also had its fair share of fun events and receptions. It is important to note that all of that was paid for by specific national and state sponsors. Not a dime of scholarship money went to support this function. Speaking on behalf of Kids' Chance of Florida, I want to thank a stellar Board of Directors and our dedicated Ambassadors who provided their wholehearted support behind hosting the conference, with many opening their checkbooks to make the social functions possible. Specifically, we need to acknowledge Linda Vendette and Sarah Larsen of The Zenith, Stacy Hosman of the WCCP, and Kimberly Helwig of NCCI. These women comprised the KCFL Conference Committee, and without their efforts many of the successful sessions and social functions just would not have occurred.
You may learn about Kids' Chance of Florida here. You can learn more about Kids' Chance of America, including information about organizations in your state, here.
I would encourage you to volunteer, donate, or refer a student in need of educational assistance. With any of those actions, you could be a part of telling a kid that they are indeed going to school and achieving their dream.
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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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