MAKING AN IMPACT
Engaging our Employees
A first-hand experience with a simulated disability was the spark that led Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma’s (BCBSOK) Waleska McQuarters to get involved with The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges (The Center).
Participating in a series of sports and daily activities at The Center Experience sponsored by BCBSOK was “both a humbling and inspiring experience,” says McQuarters. “I subsequently signed up as a volunteer and was afforded the opportunity to become a board member.”
The Center was founded in 1957 under the auspices of The National Council of Jewish Women in Tulsa who identified that few but the wealthiest families could afford the resources to provide enriching life experiences for children and adults who were mobility-, dexterity-, or sensory-impaired. The Center provides organized social, cultural and recreational opportunities for persons with physical disabilities. Within two years, the agency became a separate entity from the National Council of Jewish Women, with its own community-based Board of Directors and 501(c)(3) status established in 1959.
The mission has remained the same for the organization over the years, to provide opportunities for persons with physical disabilities to enhance the quality of their lives. This includes individuals born with physical disabilities and those who become disabled due to illness or accidents.
For McQuarters, The Center is such a valuable resource to individuals who face physical challenges in our community. The services they provide not only address the physical needs, but also the social and overall well-being of their members, which lines up perfectly with the BCBSOK values.
“My service on the board is a local extension of how we support the Oklahoma community as an organization,” she said. “This opportunity was presented to me through our community affairs team. If I ever have a question about my role on the board I know I can reach out and get a quick response. I also appreciate being able to log my board time as volunteer hours in Blue CorpTM so The Center receives matching dollars.”
Every hour that McQuarters and other employees volunteer for The Center, translates into a $20 donation for the organization. The Center is one of more than 150 community partners that receive matching dollars from BCBSOK every year.
Her service on the board has also aligned with her pursuit of a degree in organizational management, offering her real-world examples of what she is studying. These skills translate into her being a stronger board member and BCBSOK employee.
McQuarters continues to volunteer every year for The Center Experience, the event that sparked her passion for the organization. She says “I get to see others experience that “wow” moment when they realize what a gem we have within the Tulsa community.”