For some children, the holidays bring joy but also uncertainty.
As the youngest of eight kids, Michele Myers knew her family struggled to make ends meet, so she wasn’t always sure she’d find presents under the tree. Luckily, when times were lean, friends bridged the gap.
“One year when we didn’t have any money for gifts, our friends showed up with presents, a tree and decorations for us,” says Michele.
“There’s a connection that’s made when you’re at a low point in your life and you look up and see someone you don’t know who just wants to help. We all need that.”
Over Michele’s 24 years as an account executive with BlueCross, she’s shown up for a lot of people. She’s picked up trash around the city every Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, she’s helped out with the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, and she’s built playgrounds in underserved areas.
Around the holidays, her favorite thing to do is bring much-needed holiday cheer to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. The hospital provides free services to patients and families, as well as lodging that includes a family resource center, a book-lending library and a kitchen where families can cook and eat meals with loved ones.
“Every year we deliver coffee and donuts to the BlueCross floor that we sponsor at the hospital,” says Michele.
“Walking in and being able to brighten up the day for these parents and kids is such an amazing experience.”
It’s particularly poignant for Michele because she knows what it’s like to be the parent of a Le Bonheur patient.
“When my daughter was 16, she had an accident and ended up having to see a neurosurgeon at Le Bonheur,” she recalls. “Everyone there was so kind and caring, so being able to give the staff a treat, and to give those families some comfort, means so much to me.”
Forging new bonds
By volunteering through TeamBlue, Michele has been able to make connections with co-workers she’d talked to in the elevator or seen in the breakroom for years, but who she’d never had a chance to get to know. She and her team members love being able to make personal connections with each other, and with the people they’re helping, and to see the difference they’ve made at the end of a long day.
“My favorite things to do are the ones where, at the end, there’s a finished product or an obvious improvement because of us,” she says. “That happens every time at Habitat for Humanity.”
“It’s so incredible to arrive at a site that’s basically just flat ground and see someone’s house start to come together.”
“Being able to work with the owner, who is there participating, watching the pride they have in themselves, and knowing you have a hand in what’s being built for them — there’s nothing else like it in the world.”