I remember what my parents would say when my sister and I were hungry. “Get a big glass of water. That will fill you up for a while.” “You can have something to eat tomorrow.” “We don’t have anything in the house until payday.” Now that I’m an adult, I realize how hard that had to have been as a parent. As a kid, you just want to have a warm meal and not have to worry if it’s going to be the last one for a while. I promised myself that when I had kids of my own, they’d never go hungry.
I’m proud to say that promise was kept. Working at Blue Cross has provided a stable environment for my family, a steady paycheck and other opportunities to make a difference in our community. When I was asked to volunteer at United Community Outreach Ministries as part of Blue Cross’s volunteer efforts, I jumped at the chance and even got my wife and daughter to join in. We’ve met some great people who have struggles few understand, but I do. The look on the kids’ faces as they sit and wait for their chance to “shop” is tough to take. You tend to avoid eye contact when you are in need. Your body language is soft and you just want to get the process over and get back to the safety of home. Hiding in plain sight isn’t the easiest thing to do. I understand their feelings and try to be as compassionate as possible. As you go through life, you find opportunities to succeed. If you’re smart, you take them. About 10 years ago, I was given an opportunity to come to Blue Cross and I took it. Before I came here, I’d done work for the United Way, volunteered with family members at local agencies and raised money for various charities, but the Blues way was different. We have someone who works exclusively to give us the tools and opportunities to make a real difference. Volunteering isn’t something that just happens once a year – here, it’s a mindset. Blue Cross makes it easy for employees to give back, and has a culture that encourages and expects it. One of my favorite volunteer efforts is our annual holiday food drive. I helped my floor at the Grand Rapids office win this past year – Blue Cross collected over 5,000 food items for seniors in need in Grand Rapids and that felt so good. We had some real tough challenges as a young family. Those experiences taught me to be thankful, but to also help when I could. A life of service is a life well spent. I encourage everyone to get out there, find something you are passionate about and change someone’s life for the better. In the process, you will change your own life. This post is part of a storytelling series we call, “Beyond the Card.” These stories will feature Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members, employees, and communities who are making meaningful differences throughout our state. We invite you to follow Beyond the Card stories here at MIBluesPerspectives.com and through the hashtag, #BeyondtheCard on our social channels. If you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com. Photo Credit: Amber Rudd