Even in the Worst of Times WCI Supports Give Kids the World

Jim McConnaughhay, Co-Founder And General Chair Of WCI

Having to postpone the Annual Workers’ Compensation Conference after 30+ years of sponsorship by the Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI) was traumatic enough for WCI. But dealing with the closure of Give Kids the World (GKTW) because of the pandemic was quite another experience. GKTW of course was understandably forced to close its doors for fear of possibly exposing the most vulnerable because of their life threatening illnesses to the Covid-19 virus. The personal experience of the workers’ compensation community in not being able to interact with the children and their families was an extreme disappointment for all. In retrospect, however, something really special resulted in our not being able to support GKTW in a way that we were accustomed to doing; something that no one expected.

Accompanying the Covid-19 pandemic was the resulting downturn in the economy. Many in the workers’ compensation community lost their jobs with everyone in some way suffering financially during these very trying times. When WCI postponed the annual educational conference, it was decided that we simply could not ask those who had supported GKTW in the past with their donations to do so this year. In deference to those who were in some way suffering economically, we just did not feel it right to ask for money. As a substitute for our activities of support, we decided that we would attempt to create a “virtual Silent Auction” (which we had never done) coinciding with the dates of the postponed educational conference, suspecting that our efforts would only create marginal results as compared to previous years. Opportunities for providing continued support for GKTW were created in the form of “at home” projects as a substitute for the actual work days spent at the GKTW campus.

Commitments, support continued

Shortly before the planned events, we began receiving calls from past contributors as to how they could renew their financial support of GKTW. Unprepared and totally unexpected, we quickly organized and began reaching out to past financial supporters. The end result was that we were able to get commitments and contributions totaling a gross amount of $62,000 to be reduced by minimal expenses incurred, which included contributions from past contributors and new commitments from those in the workers’ compensation industry who had just heard about our programs of support. The conclusion that was very quickly reached was that our industry felt very strongly that continued financial support was needed for GKTW, regardless of personal financial concerns.

Just knowing of our industry’s deep seeded commitment to GKTW gave those who organized our modified support new energy in making this year’s efforts a success. Committee member Doug Clark did his usual great job in organizing and overseeing work projects in substitution of the actual work day jobs that had been performed in the past. Committee members Terry Melton, Robin Fielding and Heather McLeod created a “virtual” Silent Auction which included gathering items that would be auctioned and funding a “Treasure Chest” to be raffled. The end result was that $31,391.10 was raised. The total received in the Silent Auction, separate contributions and sponsorships amounted to $93,391.10. Amazingly, in the first day of the Silent Auction, there were 426 viewers. In the second day, 307. In short, we were overwhelmed by the generosity and the commitment to GKTW even in these worst of times, unquestionably indicative of the depth of our commitment to this wonderful charity.

The fact that we could raise this amount of contributions is a job well done by WCI’s “Spirit to Serve” committee. Even more compelling was the fact that our industry was able to find ways to express continued support. For those who participated in these events either as contributors or having participated in the Silent Auction (although perhaps not being the highest bidder), we sincerely appreciate your involvement. You are “true heroes.”

Pam Landwirth, the CEO of GKTW, commented on our efforts in a recent email saying:

Absolutely incredible!! We cannot begin to thank you enough for your ongoing outpouring of love and support. Your passion for our mission is unparalleled! To raise this much money . . . virtually . . . in the midst of a pandemic that is wreaking havoc on every aspect of our lives is truly a testament to the compassion and generosity of your people. Adrianne (GKTW employee along with Micayla who worked tirelessly to make our efforts successful) sang the praises of everyone who helped make this project such an overwhelming success. I truly appreciated reading all of the wonderful comments made . . . They are gems and we are blessed to have them on our team! . . . Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Look forward to celebrating with you in person one day soon.

It has been said that “there are a lot of good people in this world. However, oftentimes, it is hard to find them.” The sentence describing the difficulty in finding good people should be amended by saying that it is sometimes difficult to find them “except if you are a part of the workers’ compensation community.”

Reprinted with permission from PropertyCasualty360, Sept. 18, 2020. © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.