One of William Egner’s best memories of growing up is playing baseball. He loved being outside with his friends, and he spent a lot of time on the baseball field where the local Boys & Girls Club in Memphis now stands. So when the BlueCross quality management specialist was approached in 2015 about donating his time to a local cause, it was a no-brainer.
“I was already interested in volunteering, but when I found out TeamBlue would be building a playground in that spot, I knew that was it,” William says. “Having spent so much of my youth playing baseball, I know how important it is to give kids a safe place to play outside, and we need more outdoor space. I thought: ‘What cooler place is there to give back than right where I grew up?’”
William and his TeamBlue colleagues did it all: They built swing sets, constructed seesaws, installed merry-go-rounds and more. Because the design was inspired by local children’s drawings, it really was the playground of a kid’s dreams.
“Getting a playground built in one day and knowing it was a place kids could spend time for years to come was so rewarding,” he says.
Expanding his influence
But that was just the beginning of William’s experience as a TeamBlue volunteer. He put his skills to work all the way from Memphis to Brownsville, building houses through Habitat for Humanity.
More recently, he pitched in with TeamBlue and area high school students on the construction of the BlueCross Healthy Place at David Carnes Park. With a splash pad, a playground, a challenge course and multiple pavilions, the nine-acre space provides residents of the Whitehaven neighborhood with opportunities for connection and healthy activity.
“I was happy to be part of the build process at David Carnes Park,” he says. “What really struck me was knowing that some of my fellow BCBST employees live in the area and would be using the amenities. It was also great to see local high school students volunteer their time that day.”
Another benefit of TeamBlue, says William, is meeting people outside of his department, who he often recognizes but has never gotten a chance to talk with. He’s been surprised how quickly friendships can form.
Little things that add up
This time of year, William is gearing up for one of his favorite semi-annual TeamBlue events: visiting Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
“We get to pass out donuts, coffee, handmade quilts and toiletries,” he says. “It seems like a small thing, but people forget that most people who go to the hospital are in an emergency situation, so you forget to bring things to meet your basic needs. It’s nice to be able to provide that.
“Plus, at Le Bonheur, there are lots of people who really need a simple human touch. It’s important for people to remember that when you’re sick or scared or lonely, it’s the little things that become the big things. ”