November 9-13 is Kids' Chance Awareness Week. This article, originally published April 17, 2016, highlights the importance of this terrific organization. To learn more about Kids' Chance, go to https://www.kidschance.org.
I spent last Friday and Saturday in Little Rock, Arkansas, attending the annual convention of Kids' Chance, an organization that provides scholarships and secondary education opportunities for children who have had a parent seriously injured or killed on the job. The group that gathers for this event each year are primarily volunteers from the 33 state Kids' Chance chapters and 3 affiliate organizations, along with representatives of the national organization and interested parties. This is my second time attending. There is one thing you learn very quickly at a Kids' Chance event; Kids' Chance is family, and it is a family that is changing lives.
This is a grassroots, volunteer organization, a group whose members work vociferously towards a successful end goal - "More money for more kids". In its almost 30 year history, Kids' Chance has issued well over 5,000 scholarships totaling around $16 Million. Just as impressively, the group has doubled in size over the last 4 years, growing From 19 states to the current 36. Two of the country's most populated states, Florida and Texas, just formed chapters, and simply by population size they should have significant impact on those numbers in coming years.
If you spent a day with the KC veterans from around the nation you would quickly understand my assessment of them as “family”. They are passionate volunteers joined by a common cause. They refer to their scholarship recipients as their “kids”. And they know that their work, helping kids of injured workers attain secondary education, is changing lives.
The Arkansas Kids' Chance organization was the host for this years event, and at our Saturday lunch they presented several of their scholarship recipients (their “kids”). All are currently in school. One is pursuing a degree in biology with an eye on medical school. Another is in a 4 year master electrician training program. Yet another is working on an education degree. All of them were articulate and appreciative of the opportunity provided by Kids' Chance. One of them thanked both Kids' Chance and “Workmans” Compensation for helping his family recover from the loss of his father. They left little doubt that Kids' Chance was giving them an opportunity in life they may otherwise not have had.
Two of these students really hit home with me. The first lost her father when he was electrocuted in a workplace accident. She was less than 4 years old. Her mother passed away from cancer about 6 years after that. She was raised by her grandmother, who died during her first year in college. She talked about the depression that envelopes you with losses like that, but she also spoke of recognizing that people care, and that the people of Arkansas Kids' Chance had been wonderful to her. She gave the conference the quote of the weekend when she said, “Everyone has bad days. I ultimately recognized that a bad day does not make a bad life”.
The second student I speak of brought her mother to the lunch. Several years ago her mother had a car accident on the job, hitting a flatbed trailer that came over the hood and through the windshield of her car. Doctors told the family that she would at best be a “vegetable” for the remainder of her days. However, after extensive hospital time and therapy, her mother started to recover. While left wheelchair bound with extensive disabilities, she is cognizant of her daughters success and educational opportunities. It was a visual moment that gave all the volunteers in the room an emotional lesson on the impact of the work they do.
Kids' Chance is the one single program in workers' comp that can bring all sides together for a common cause. It is a sea of tranquility amidst very choppy waters; a unifying force driven by insurance professionals, vendors, defense counsel and plaintiff's attorneys. It is a cause that absolutely everyone should be able to understand and unite behind.
And frankly, if they can't, there is something seriously wrong with them.
If you would like to learn more about Kids' Chance, you may visit www.kidschance.org to find an organization in your state. If there isn't one in your state, start one. I can personally tell you from my Florida experience that doing so is very rewarding indeed. If you get involved you won't just be volunteering. You will be joining a dedicated family that is making a difference in the lives of the children they adopt.
You will be changing lives. After all, that is what family should be all about.
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