We are proud to honor one of the very deserving givers among us – my sister. Kansas City’s Journal of Society, The Independent, has recently named Haas & Wilkerson Insurance’s own Agency Principal and Vice President Kimberly Wilkerson to the esteemed Class of 2015 Rising Stars.
Kimberly has been honored this year for her many years of dedication to local philanthropy – giving of herself, her time, and her talents – to leave her mark on Kansas City and make waves of progressive change through her volunteer efforts and philanthropic support. As Kimberly herself says in an article for The Independent,
“It is humbling to be singled out as there are so many people doing good work in Our Town. From an early age, I was driven to engage in community service. I am fortunate to continue that work not only on a personal level but also through my company, Haas & Wilkerson Insurance.”
Coupled with her characteristic Midwestern work ethic is Kimberly’s unwavering desire to be involved in, and give back to, local community organizations. She currently serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City and Kansas City Public Television, and she has worked for years with the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the Children’s Miracle Network.
In 1904, a court clerk named Ernest Coulter witnessed an increasing number of boys filtering through the justice system. Coulter theorized that if these young men had a caring adult in their lives, they might stay out of trouble. In order to address this problem, he began to match volunteers with at-risk youth and the Big Brothers movement was born. At around the same time, the Ladies of Charity started a similar movement focused on girls. These two organizations joined forces in 1977 to create Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS).
Locally, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City (BBBS-KC) has helped more than 20,000 youth; with over 1,700 “Littles” matched with a “Big” (adult volunteer) yearly. This summer, BBBS-KC was recognized nationally as the Large Agency of the Year by the Big Brothers Big Sisters National Leadership Council. An article in Business Wire sums up the reason;
“The agency’s business-minded approach to managing programs, recruiting volunteers and raising funds has led to high-quality, sustainable growth as one of the nation’s fastest-growing agencies.”
The statistics from the BBBS-KC website show proof of the agency’s effectiveness. According to data of Littles who are matched with Bigs:
- 96% report no alcohol or drug abuse
- 93% said they have learned new things
- 84% say that they feel better about who they are
- 81% report that they have developed new interests
There’s a reason we all look forward to festivals each year. For some, it’s the tradition of trying the newest fried concoction (think deep-fried butter or even fried Kool-Aid®) and for others the draw is the amusement rides, exhibits, music, or games. Really, the list for why we love these community events is as varied as the people who attend the festivities. But how much thought goes towards the people who help make these memories and traditions continue? Not enough! That's why Haas & Wilkerson Insurance is a proud sponsor of the Pinnacle Awards for the International Festival and Events Association (IFEA).
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi
During my brother Ryan's college years at the University of Kansas, he became friends with a dynamic man named Sean Biggs — and by dynamic I mean a powerhouse of energy, intelligence, and positivity. After college, Sean went on to obtain his Masters at MIT, where he met and married the wonderful woman with whom he would have two children. He also pursued his athletic talent and completed six Boston marathons. That’s right; six marathons clocking in at less than three hours each time!
As you can imagine, it greatly saddened my brother and I when Sean was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. However, he did not let his diagnosis impact his upbeat attitude and energetic zest for life, his family, and golfing. As his foundation website shares,
“[Sean] continued to run as often as he could, played golf (in fact played a round of 18 just two weeks before his untimely death), vacationed with friends and family, and tried to maintain as normal a life as possible, doing all the simple things in life that he enjoyed.”
After his passing in 2012, many of those around him wanted to honor his memory and his impact on others, and that is how BIGGSteps was born. What could be more fitting for Sean than a race that raises money for cancer research?
Want to know how to outperform your competition, help your employees be more productive, and keep them around for longer? Well, according to an article by Growth Everywhere, the key is to make them happy.
The best way to help our employees enjoy coming to work every morning is to create a company culture that promotes openness, positivity, and enthusiasm. “Company culture” can be one of those nebulous, hard-to-define terms that get thrown around often, but it's really valuable to figure out how to build and maintain a healthy culture at work. Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends, defines company culture as,
“The accumulation of the attitudes and behaviors of everyone in your company – starting with you as a [leader]. If companies had personalities, your culture would be the personality of your company. Culture is based on values — what you as [a leader] and what people in your company value and think is important.”
Haas & Wilkerson Insurance has a long tradition of valuing our employee's time and talent. We strive to create a positive and productive workplace in which everyone is able to take pride in their work and excel. Let's take a look at three key ways to build a company culture that will keep us and our employees at the top of our game.
Have you ever had the infectious rhythm of Michael Franti's, “Say Hey (I Love You)“, stuck in your head? If you don't recognize the name, click the link and I bet you'll you'll be humming along in no time! I recently had the privilege of sitting in on a live recording with Franti himself at KCPT The Bridge's studio. It was fascinating to be in the room as The Bridge interviewed this talented and uplifting performer! To be present as thousands listened in on the station interview was a very cool experience and a great reminder of why we support 90.9 The Bridge. I want to take a moment to share what I learned and talk about our new segment: Give Back Fridays.
Do It For The Love
Michael Franti is an excellent example of how The Bridge selects well-known entertainers to interview for the listening pleasure of Kansas City and the surrounding areas. Franti is more than just an internationally known singer, rapper, and poet. He is an energetic humanitarian and the founder of the non-profit Do It For The Love. Do It For The Love is a wish-granting foundation that states “through the healing power of music, our goal is to inspire joy, hope, and lasting celebratory memories in the face of severe illness or trauma.” Franti’s non-profit works with managers and performers to bring the power of his foundation to sick children, wounded veterans, and many many more.
There are over 1,200 waterparks in North America with around 85 million visitors each year. That's quite an industry to be a part of, huh? I think back to last summer when Haas & Wilkerson Insurance was the lucky winner of a fundraising competition in support of Healthy Communities Wyandotte County. As the winner, we secured our spot on the very first public boat to go down Verruckt, the world's tallest water slide, at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City, Kansas!
Haas & Wilkerson Insurance has been in the waterpark industry for over 20 years. In October of 2009, we were fortunate enough to expand our industry relationship when we partnered with the World Waterpark Association (WWA) to create a specialized insurance program for their members. As Chris Swartz, past chair of the WWA's Board of Directors, put it at the General Session,
“The WWA Board decided the time was right to leverage the current market and take action to shape our future by developing a dedicated WWA insurance program that will give us influence and leverage in the insurance marketplace and help us avoid skyrocketing premiums or loss of coverage in the future.”