BlueCross employees recognize the benefits United Way brings to our communities and neighbors. Many see the value in contributing financially – in 2018, BlueCross employees across the state and our corporate matching pledged a combined total of more than $516,000.
“We support United Way because we know our gifts are being used in the most efficient way possible to make a difference,” says Todd Ray, senior vice president and general manager of senior products at BlueCross, and 2018’s honorary campaign chair.
“Through all stages of life, United Way is there for our neighbors, providing the resources people need to stay on a stable path to being self-sufficient, healthy, productive community members.”
With United Way’s own statewide giving campaign currently underway, meet five advocates at BlueCross who – through their active involvement with causes associated with United Way –support the organization’s mission of education and stability for every person in our community.
Dennis Culver: finding the right fit
For Dennis Culver, vice president, treasurer and chief risk officer, giving back has always mattered. The mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga – one of the organizations sponsored by United Way – resonated in particular with him.
“I was inspired by the wonderful, positive attitudes from Boys & Girls Club kids who persevere in the face of life’s obstacles,” he says. “Many of these kids will rise above very challenging circumstances and go on to college, and when they do, they are some of the first to extend helping hands. You can truly see generation-changing positive impacts in the lives of these children.”
Last year, Dennis’ own efforts to provide a helping hand came full circle when he served as BlueCross United Way campaign chair. His rallying cry helped lead to more than $500,000 in BlueCross donations to United Way branches across Tennessee.
Chelsea Johnson: career carryover
Chelsea Johnson, community relations and foundation manager, became involved with United Way through Chattanooga’s Northside Neighborhood House, where she served as education director. The NNH supports resident independence through education and financial assistance with food, prescriptions and utilities. Its education program was partially funded by United Way.
“The United Way is working to meet the current needs of our community – not what they were a decade ago,” Chelsea says. “While some needs remain constant, there are other initiatives surfacing that offer long-term impact potential.”
That collaboration made a lasting impact, and Chelsea’s advocacy for the organization has carried over to BlueCross.
“Without United Way funding, many of these needed services would not be able to operate,” she says. “That could potentially snowball into much larger issues for the community to contend with.”
Reginald Holmes: experience to involvement
As a child, account service associate and Nashville resident Reginald Holmes spent much of his free time at his neighborhood’s Bethlehem Centers of Nashville United Way Family Resource Center.
“It was convenient for me to go there for after-school programs, summer camps and even vocational assistance,” he says. “Getting involved with a nonprofit funded by the United Way resulted in experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Reginald began volunteering at the center at age 13. Today, he still works closely with the center through SPARK, or Sports-Play-Active-Recreation-for-Kids. The program seeks to keep kids away from television, social media and electronics and get them up and moving for at least an hour a day.
“The slogan ‘Changing lives and building futures’ has always stuck with me,” Reginald says. “I feel I’m living proof.”
Anne Brunasso: Big Sister to big supporter
In 2006, Anne Brunasso, project lead in human resources management, worked three months at United Way of Greater Chattanooga as a BlueCross “loaned executive.” The experience opened her eyes to the tremendous good United Way does for our community.
One of the many local agencies they support – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga – became a major part of Anne’s life.
“For several years, I volunteered as a Big Sister,” Anne says. “Many kids need an adult mentor when their own same-sex parent may not be in the picture. When I learned that a ‘Little’ could have an opportunity to attend college just for participating in the program, I knew I wanted to help.”
Today, Anne keeps in touch with her “Little” and embraces every opportunity to encourage others to give and/or volunteer.
“Supporting the United Way and its partner agencies helps the most vulnerable in our community and encourages them to become self-sufficient,” she says.
Julie Moses: two decades of driving change
Since joining BlueCross in 1997, Julie Moses, compliance monitoring consultant, has participated in the BlueCross giving campaign to support United Way by volunteering at various agencies. And much like Anne, one in particular has had a profound effect.
“In 2008, after becoming a newly single mother, I registered my son, Henry, as a ‘Little’ through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga,” Julie says. “He was matched with a ‘Big,’ Brad, in 2009, and they have been together ever since.”
Helping people “from our neighbors at home to our neighbors at work” has motivated Julie’s 20 years of giving back.
“If your heart is for children, single mothers, families or the elderly, there is an agency that you can specifically support,” Julie says. “Giving to United Way helps everyone.”