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Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey Community Arts

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey

Tyrone Aiken | Chief Artistic Officer

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey (KCFAA) serves Kansas City in a three-part role as an educator, presenter, and unifier. Through our annual Symposium and other events, we facilitate the dialogue about race, place, and diversity in Kansas City. We are the only presenter of New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II in Kansas City and are the company’s only second home. As an arts educator, our mission is to reach the neediest children in the Kansas City area, both in and out of school, and teach critical life skills through dance.

kcfaa.org

 

 

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KC Cares, Kansas City’s nonprofit voice, tells the stories of Kansas City nonprofits and connects them with the community.  

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Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce Discusses Diversity

Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Suzanne Wheeler | Executive Director

The Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce is an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and their allies through the guiding principles of equality, inclusion, economics and education. The Chamber’s purpose is to create, identify and enhance business opportunities for LGBT and LGBT-friendly organizations, thereby fostering a more inclusive and vibrant economy in Kansas City and the Mid-America region.

midamericalgbt.org

 

 

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KC Cares, Kansas City’s nonprofit voice, tells the stories of Kansas City nonprofits and connects them with the community.  

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Take risks. Own success. Be Uncommon.

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Covid Care Force Talks Nonprofit Healthcare

COVID CARE FORCE

Dr. Gary Morsch | Founder

The COVID-19 pandemic has a devastating impact on healthcare staffing. Hospitals are closing, and some communities have no access to medical care at all. To meet this need for volunteer doctors and nurses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, KC Cares is interviewing Gary Morsch, founder of Covid Care Force – a nonprofit that quickly mobilizes groups of healthcare professionals to deploy to hotspots and areas of critical healthcare staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch now as he discusses what Covid Care Force does and how you can get involved with this vital effort.

 

 

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In partnership with: 

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Take risks. Own success. Be Uncommon.

TW: @kauffmanfdn FB: @kauffmanfdn IG: @kauffmanfdn

Transcription:

Ruth: [00:00:00] Welcome to KC cares, Kansas city’s non-profit voice. We’re telling the stories of Kansas city and nonprofits and the people behind them. KC cares is the intersection of nonprofits and the profit community. Making Kansas city a great place to live, work and play I’m Ruth Baum. Biggest KC cares is proudly sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation.

First responders have had a heck of, of a year battling the COVID-19 pandemic while things may have slowed in some parts of the country, others areas are still at battle. In those early days. Things were very tough as medical personnel, literally waged war against this infectious virus. Those heroes needed backup.

And it was a Kansas city doctor who stood up and created a solution. Dr. Gary Morsch who created the non-profit COVID care force, jumped into the fight and battled and supported his colleagues. We last spoke with Dr. Morrish weeks after lockdown, in case he cares is pleased to welcome him back, to share the story, which continues his efforts and where things are headed now.

Dr. Morris, thanks for carving out some time for us. Well, 

Dr. Gary Morsch: [00:01:15] thank you, Ruth. And your, you do a great job with with your program and show. And so I want to support it and, and, and Kansas city is a great community. And you said, well, it’s a great, a great place and good, generous people. So, that’s why I love being at Kansas city for sure.

Ruth: [00:01:36] Well, we’re lucky to have you. I do want to go back a little bit in case there are people who are not aware of what the COVID care forces and the background of how this all came to be. You maneuvered very quickly. 

Dr. Gary Morsch: [00:01:51] Fried. One of my sayings is, you know, it’s better to do things right than fast, but sometimes you have to do things just fast and hope, hope your ride and COVID care for us was one of those things.

And so you’re right. It was a year ago, actually a little, maybe 13 months ago in February, then March that we saw COVID starting to rear its ugly head in the United States. And then, then. You know, towards the end of March and into early April, we, we watched what was happening in New York city. The, the, the hospitals were just being overwhelmed with patients.

People were dying you know, the New York city was in lockdown and I decided along with many others that. You know, I I’m a doctor, I’m a family doctor. And then I went into emergency medicine, ER, doc military. I was, I retired from the army reserves. I was an ER, doc of military or served in combat zones.

I thought if there’s anybody that should go I mean, I should be, I should go. My kids are raised. You know, you know, I I’ve lived a great life and if anybody should be taking risks, it ought to be people like me. So I decided to join with several friends and it was a joint project, the first team through heart-to-heart international and the international medical Corps.

And but while I was in New York city, it’s when I got the call from a member of the one of the tribal leaders in the Navajo nation. Who I, I had known of this person, but I had never met him. And he called and said, is there any way that heart-to-heart could help get PPE and medicines and supplies?

And then I said, well, what about doctors and nurses? He said, Oh yes, we, we need all the help we can get. So I decided right then, you know, I just need to spend my whole full time. Organizing volunteers, doctors, nurses, CNAs, LPN, EMT, paramedics, respiratory therapists, whoever, and get them, you know, plug them in their COVID hot-spots wherever they are.

And so we went from New York city and sent a team immediately to Gallup New Mexico and a window rock. And to Winslow to the Navajo nation and assessed it and realize this is something. I can do, I can help organize volunteers. And so we started we decided to start a new organization. I talked with heart to heart.

I talked with some of my other groups that I worked with and everyone felt like, you know what, we’re all going to be busy. And we know you, Gary, the way you run a hundred miles an hour we think you ought to just go for it. So I started COVID care for us incorporated. It is a not-for-profit. And since that last April, we have been sending medical teams all over the country and all over Mexico.

And we’re still doing it today. 

Ruth: [00:05:06] That’s amazing, but I think you downplay how hard it is to pull people together and then make an organization who are your helpers along the way? How did you make that happen so quickly? 

Dr. Gary Morsch: [00:05:21] Well, of course I’ve been, you know, being one of the, the. Founders of heart to heart.

I’ve learned a lot and heart to heart is still is a great partner. And they’re shipping. In fact, just this week, I, our volunteers in Tiawana working in a hospice there with COVID patients and, and, and poor homeless people there. And she wanted that, that don’t have a place to go. They ran out of gloves.

You know, the, the, the doctors and nurses and the workers. And so, you know, I was, I got on the phone and heart to hearts already shipped. Cases and cases and cases of gloves. So we, we have a great partnership, but I’ve learned, you know, get the word out. And and, and I have been working with hundreds and hundreds of doctors and nurses over the years.

So I, I. Just reached out to them, heart to heart, put out the word docs, who care, put out the word, different different organizations. And we were able to quickly build an organization, rented space, brought on staff. Initially it was all volunteers. And then we started raising money because to, to support.

An organization is, you know, all the people that you interview, all the not-for-profits that you work with. There, there is a time when you can do things almost pure volunteer and no overhead, but as, as you get more to get more organized and to be more, to do a better job at getting the word out and recruiting volunteers and planning their logistics we needed to hire.

People. And I have a great staff of about four or five people. We have a little, little office area in Olathe, Kansas, and that’s where all this happens. But again, it’s, it’s, it takes a small core of people, you know, behind the scenes, but it takes the generosity of many organizations, corporations. One of them just yesterday, we, we were talking to angel flight.

Angel flight is a great partner of COVID care for us. Every week, our volunteers are flying into areas, whether it’s Indian reservations or it’s to Mexico and angel flight helps us, gives us those flights. So, you know, it takes, it takes a village, I guess you might say to, to, to create a not-for-profit and then to grow it and make it sustainable.

And that’s that’s the key word is can you make it sustainable? 

Ruth: [00:07:52] Well, I love the collaborative. We’ve been lucky to have on angel flight before, and it’s, it’s really cool how they get volunteer pilots to take people who are facing some kind of a health issue and very, very cool synergy that they have come in with you to to make this fly.

Excuse the pun, not intended. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of making those collaborative connections? And if you have any suggestions or tips, I think sometimes nonprofits kind of struggle. They don’t want to get lost, but it sounds like you’re pretty important. 

Dr. Gary Morsch: [00:08:34] Right. So, you know, not for profits all share some common needs.

You, you need, you need financing. Of course he, well, he failed. First of all, you got to have a clear mission. You gotta have a, you gotta know, this is what, this is what God has put us on this earth to do. Or this is, this is our calling Catholics. Call it vocation. I think in different people call it, but it’s a passion.

It’s something that you just feel. Like, I need to, I need to be involved in this, whether it’s feeding, hungry people or helping with addiction, people with addictions or sex trafficking or whatever it is. So you gotta have a, a mission and be clear about it. This is what I’m, we’re going to try to do. So, so it starts with that having the right motivation, the right mission the, the another thing, and I.

I don’t have this prepared. You just caught me off guard here, Ruth. So I’m going to think through this as I go think on the fly, which is how I actually live my life pretty much, but you gotta be committed to doing things right in, well, you know, too many times, sometimes people cut corners or they do the expedient thing, the easy thing, and it’s really important to do things, whatever you do.

It’s it’s more, it’s important to do it right. And be committed to quality and, and, and, and equality and justice and fairness and respect of people volunteers of donors, then you need, you know, you’ve got your mission, you’re you you’re committed to doing things. Well, it takes, it takes funding, you know, and Florida’s funding come from.

Well, it doesn’t fall out of the sky. I wish it did. You know, I have a farm. I live on a farm. I wish it was. I could just plant like yesterday, we planted soybeans. I wish I could plant money and money trees would grow and I could harvest it, but it doesn’t happen that easily. But, but to, to get funding, you have to share.

Your message and your mission, and you have to ask and you have to knock on doors and it’s hard, hard work. But if we believe that people are generous and people want to do the right things with the money they have, whether it’s a foundation or a corporation or a church or a parish or a synagogue or whatever, an individual, it, you know, people will, will w they want to support good causes.

But you have to get your message out. So these are just some of the things that it takes, I think, to start a not-for-profit and then to get it, to, to grow to a level where it’s sustainable and it’s, it’s not easy, you know, more it’s like in the business world, what do they say? Nine out of 10 startup businesses fail.

I think that’s what I I’ve heard over the years. Well, it’s true in the not-for-profit world, too, you know, the majority of not-for-profits to start don’t end up making it term. And, and maybe it’s because they miss some of these fundamental things that you need to do. One of the one thing, and I know I’ve talked too long, but one thing that’s, I think is really, really important to any not-for-profit is.

For those who volunteer for those who donate their money. If some people can give their time, some people don’t have time, but they can give their talents. Some people don’t have time to give their talents. All they have is their treasure. They can write a check or they can make an online donation. People have different ways of giving and supporting, but whatever it is that people share with a not-for-profit is so important to thank them.

To appreciate them to value them and not to forget about them. So, so that’s, that’s a very important thing I would say to any not-for-profit director do not take people for granted. Thank them. Thank them appropriately timely. And thank them again and again, and then you’ll have the resources you need.

Ruth: [00:12:35] Well, for somebody talking on the fly, I’d say that was darn good. But I know you’re, you’re very good that, and I think it’s interesting too. You’ve had a lot of people working with you together, hand in hand behind you out in front of you spreading the message. And I think those are some really valuable tips from somebody who’s walked through.

This process a few times, we’re going to take a quick, quick break, but I want to come back afterwards and talk specifically about the impact that the COVID care force has had. We’ll be back after this, we’re back talking to Dr. Gary Morsch founder of heart to heart. And we’re talking today about the COVID care force that just a year ago was born out of a need to help.

With this horrible, horrible pandemic that, that has rocked the world. But focusing here, can you share with us a little bit, what were those early days like in New York? I mean, we were all hunkered down here in the Midwest, so we were just hearing through news media. You were boots on the ground. What was it like and, and how were you able to really get in there and help.

Dr. Gary Morsch: [00:13:49] Well, again, it was a collaborative thing through to a heart, to heart through international medical Corps, through the the state, the governments, state government in, in New York city. So it was all of us working to get. And because I’m, I’ve been in the military spent 21 years as a army reservist as a doctor I’ve been in.

Numerous combat zones, taking care of injured soldiers, wounded soldiers, and in the military. And the more you have a concept or a term called mass casualty. Mass cow. And that we don’t use it very often in the civilian world, because it’s pretty rare, but it does happen. And that, that is by definition when the needs of your patients or soldiers, or whether it’s injured or sick in a pandemic when the needs.

Are are greater than your ability to respond to them in the normal way with doctors and nurses and oxygen tanks and medicines. So in war, when there’s a battle often. We were the doctors and the healthcare workers are overwhelmed because there’s too many injured people at once and they call that a mass casualty mass cow.

Well, that’s what it was in New York city. And literally every hospital, it was a mass cow. It was a mass casualty. There were too many sick and dying patients and not enough beds and not enough oxygen and not enough doctors and not enough nurses. So for many of the doctors and nurses. They came in from around the country to volunteer.

Many of them had never been in a situation like this, so it’s. It’s really important to provide support for them, mental health support. And, and, and, and, and so that’s one of the things we did. That’s one of the things I did every night after shifts or in the morning, if they worked the night shift, we would, we would get together, we’d have a we’d meet in someone’s room and or in the lobby of the hotel, wherever.

And we would talk about it, you know, tell me, how did your, how did it go and what did you see today and how do you feel, and just try to support each other and encourage each other. So, that’s just one of the important one of the many little things, some people didn’t make it. You just have to understand that not everyone, even with a good heart and the best intentions really have the mental health or capacity or whatever to You know, the stamina or whatever, to, to keep on going in the face of something so terrible like this.

So some people just said, you know, I can’t keep up. I can’t, I, I can’t do this. And it was okay. That’s not a failure. A failure to me is not being willing to try. You know, if you feel like this is something I want to be a part of. You know, you, you, by all means jump in and work with that organization, volunteer with that organization.

Yes. None of us have all the answers. None of us can fix everything, but when you find out, you know, this isn’t for me, this isn’t a match or there’s something else I need to do, but this is too much. It’s okay. You know, that’s not failure. A failure is saying. Being being not having the courage to try to me.

That’s, that’s the failure part, not trying and failing. So I’d rather shoot for the stars and miss and hit the moon than never to have shot in the first place. You know, because I think, well, I’ll never, I’ll never hit the moon. So I even dry well shoot for the stars 

Ruth: [00:17:27] where you actually hands-on at one point in time giving these docs and these nurses, et cetera, break.

Dr. Gary Morsch: [00:17:35] Yes. It was also important to give people not to work people to deaths. People would feel like, well, I just need to work day at seven days straight or 10 days of no people needed the break. The other thing is we would do is we would organize get food because a lot of people were so busy and they’d come back to their hotel room and be exhausted and, you know, restaurants were closed and you know, it’s like, how do you get food?

So we worked hard to make sure people. We’re fed and taken care of. So again, these are what, you know, again, it’s a fundamental of a not-for-profit. If you have volunteers take care of him. You know, support him, respect him be there at our Indian reservation, that Navajos, because we had some, so many volunteers there.

And even in, in Pueblo, Colorado where we had at one time at maybe 10 or 12 volunteers there at a time, we would actually have a support person identify someone. Actually, sometimes it was one of our staff that we would. Hang on and actually have them live in with the team and be there full time to just support them and help them, help them, make sure they were getting fed.

We had volunteers get COVID and get sick. And when you’re in, out on the Navajo nation or in New York city and you get sick, you can’t get on a plane to come home. They’re not that’s that’s the wrong time to be getting on a plane. And so we wouldn’t, we would take care of our volunteers. We’d we’d want we’d check on them.

And sometimes it would be me making house calls to the hotel. Checking on our volunteers, deciding are you, are you at the point where we need to go to the hospital, we need to have some more tests done. So, so there was a lot of work that went into it, but again, it’s back to the fundamentals of people want to give of themselves.

Especially healthcare professionals. That’s why people become nurses and doctors sometimes it’s because for doctors, maybe they want to make a lot of money. I understand that. But most people, they go into healthcare for the right reasons. And. When it comes to a crisis, they’re the very people that want to help, they want to volunteer.

So what COVID care force does is say, how can we take that passion, that interest in, in helping move the dial, being a part of the solution to COVID supplying volunteers. Doctors and nurses to COVID hotspots around the country now around the world. How can we do that? And then asking for people to support us financially so that we can hire the logistics people and the, get the computers and keep track of all of the volunteers and then make sure they’re supported wherever they are.

Are serving. So it takes a lot of different pieces, but it’s when it happens, when it works, it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing. And it has happened for COVID care for us. And for that, you know, I’m very thankful to God. 

Ruth: [00:20:47] Well, let’s share with our audience, you know, who, who loved numbers. So by March of this year, COVID care force had registered their 1300th volunteer and you’ve logged, I think more than 15,000 service hours.

You’re in 30 sites in the United States and Mexico, 75 teams, 250,000 patients served. Wow. That’s pretty incredible, pretty amazing statistics. What were, what were the tough times? What was the toughest thing that you faced? I mean, this is a nasty disease. I, I know from having had it, my husband was very sick with it.

So what were the toughest times and how did you get through it? 

Dr. Gary Morsch: [00:21:38] The toughest times were the earliest weeks when it was all hands on deck. And I was working probably 18 hour days and maybe getting three and four hours of sleep a night and seven days a week, just trying to you know, the, the, it started in New York city.

And and, and so it was just hard and, and, you know, the volunteers, the people that ran that joined me and we, we borrowed office space. From one of one of the company in LA that, and they were generous to give us, you know, the use of their computers and printers. And then everybody was working from home.

This is a, this is a, actually a company that I own docs who care that does. Runs emergency rooms across the Midwest. We staff emergency rooms with doctors. And so, so everybody was working from home. So we, we use their offices and got started. And it was, it was just hard because we were all just, you know, we had never done this.

No one’s ever in my lifetime. I think since the 1918 Spanish flu. America has never had a pandemic like this. So really there was, there was no one alive. That’s done this before. So it was all new to us and trying to figure out what’s the, how do you do this? And how do you protect your volunteers? And, you know, even even to say the volunteers before they went, you may get COVID.

And you may die. I mean, let’s, let’s be honest. I mean, that’s pretty, pretty red, a soul wrenching, you know, and, and for me in my responsibility, With volunteers, by the way, we don’t have insurance for you. You know, you’re a volunteer, we’re all doing this ourselves. And so we’ll do our best to support you. But, but, you know, remember you’re, you’re putting yourself at risk to do this, but anyway, those were hard days, but then as we.

I figured out what worked and how built partnerships like with angel flight, then it got easier because now we have such a good relationship with them. The staff can call them up and say, we need, we have four people we need to get to such and such. And boy, they’re just. They’re just so helpful and generous.

And that’s happened with many, many organizations like that. We just have a lot of it’s, you know, starting a not-for-profit, some people see it as competition. Well, why did we need another group doing this? Don’t we have enough people trying to feed hungry people. So some people see another not-for-profit as diminishing the pie.

There’s fewer resources to go around. So there’s this idea of competition. No, I don’t believe in competition. I believe in collaboration because there is enough to go around the world. Has the resources. America is particularly is such a wealthy, wealthy, talented nation. We, we can solve a lot of really difficult problems.

We have the means and so it’s just coming up with a plan that works. So, so the early days was figuring out that plan and figuring out our partners, how we’re going to do it. And one of the statistics you didn’t mention is we’ve had 600 donors. 600 individuals have donated. Yeah, thank the Lord. And we’ve had, you know, many of them give again and again, and, and, and we’re so grateful that we, we raised $600,000 in our first year, and that’s what it took to cover the expenses of our volunteers to, to get the cars ranted, to get the pay, the hotel bills, but it worked.

And and again, it worked because. People are generous. People are generous with their time, talent and treasure. 

Ruth: [00:25:38] We just have like a minute left. Where does COVID care force go from 

Dr. Gary Morsch: [00:25:41] here? Well, I’m glad you asked because when it started, I thought first, even the Indian reservation, some of the chiefs, some of the presidents and chairmans and said, Gary, we needed help before COVID hit.

Don’t leave us after COVID is finished. And I said, you know, I never paid attention much to the native American issues, but you can be having my word. I’m going to help you for the rest of my life. I’m going to do what I can to get you, the doctors and nurses you needed even before COVID hit. So we’re transitioning to global care for us.

We’ve already incorporated. We’ve got our five Oh one C3. COVID care for us is COVID goes away. We will be the global care force. And our first team we’re working on right now is to send to India, actually the Calcutta India. So, 

Ruth: [00:26:31] wow. Well, you heard it here first, everyone I’m so I’m so pleased. And so touched by what you’ve done.

Kansas city is so lucky to have you as part of our community and making a difference in the world. Dr. Morris, thank you for spending time with us. I do appreciate it. And we want to thank you. We want to thank you for listening to KC cares, Kansas city’s non-profit voice. We’re produced by charitable communications, also a nonprofit, and we’re proudly sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation.

If you’d like to be a guest on KC cares or underline opportunities, you can visit our website. KC cares online.org and spread the love. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter at KC cares radio and Instagram at KC cares online.

nonprofitmarketinghub.com

Previous Episodes!

Edelman Thompson Corporate Social Responsibility

EDELMAN & THOMPSON

James Thompson | Co-Founder

Find us on

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Also available on

Itunes || Spotify || Stitcher || Soundcloud || Youtube 

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

KC Cares, Kansas City’s nonprofit voice, tells the stories of Kansas City nonprofits and connects them with the community.  

Produced by Charitable Communications 

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

In partnership with: 

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Take risks. Own success. Be Uncommon.

TW: @kauffmanfdn FB: @kauffmanfdn IG: @kauffmanfdn

Transcription:

Ruth: [00:00:00] welcome to KC cares, Kansas city’s non-profit voice. We’re telling the stories of Kansas city nonprofits and the people behind them. And we’re the nonprofit and the profit communities intersect to make Kansas city a better place to live, work and play I’m Ruth bomb. Biggest KC cares is proudly sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation.

Law firms are busy places, whether they’re handling corporate litigation, high profile, personal injury, or criminal cases, mergers and acquisitions, or family law issues. People are really busy between the attorneys and the paralegals and all the support staff, but there’s another side to these legal Eagles being engaged in helping the community.

And today we have an organization, a law firm that’s doing just that. It’s the Edelman Thompson law firm. And we’re going to talk about their charitable foundation and we’re welcoming James Thompson. Who’s a founding partner. Welcome James.

James Thompson: [00:01:07] Welcome Bruce. Thank you very much. It’s great to great that you can have us on today.

We’re looking forward to visiting with you again

Ruth: [00:01:15] shannon Wallace, the marketing director behind this big law firm, that many people may know you all from a little bit of television. I was so excited to, to meet the man behind the camera, those commercials that I always see. So it’s so great. It’s so great to have you up.

Well, let’s talk a little bit at first about the firm itself, what you all are focused on in terms of as a business.

James Thompson: [00:01:42] Sure.  The firm started in 1994. So      we’ve been around the block a few years now.    Ron Edelman and I  started the firm  back then just the two of us.  We had done    primarily  insurance defense work representing insurance companies when  their insureds  were sued.

And    at least to both of us in our background,  that wasn’t as rewarding a career as we had. We had hoped in terms of  having  a little larger, compassionate side to things.  So we, we made  both of us made a decision over about a year  to go out on our own and  start  representing people who  who were injured    either in, you know, basic personal injury things like auto accidents, but also in medical device litigation.

And    for  some time I did a lot of us Festus  litigation  where people had gotten sick because of exposure to toxic substances and things like that.  And  currently the firm’s business mix is it’s all exclusively personal injury of one kind or another. So we don’t represent insurance companies.

We don’t represent corporations. We represent people  which is where I think Ron and I have really always wanted to end up.  So  it’s gone from just the two of us in a small office, down on the Plaza  to a much, much larger firm.  One of the larger firms in Kansas city  certainly one of the larger firms doing personal injury in Kansas city.

So it’s been a, it’s been a rewarding journey and  we still love what we do.

Ruth: [00:03:30] Well, I know when I drive downtown on the  loop, you can’t miss the building that’s for sure. And I bet. The growth that you’ve seen over the years  is incredible. I love the fact that you are working  with people. Let’s bring Shannon.

Shannon. I thought law firms were just their lawyers  and the people behind them who do the research. So what’s a marketing person doing with a law firm. Yeah.

Shannon Wallace: [00:03:59] I mean, I think there, especially in this day and age, you know, our, my main goal is just to connect with folks that as James was describing that need to find an attorney that genuinely cares about their needs.

I that’s part of my job, you know, is to make Edelman and Thompson at the forefront  and to make, you know, people aware of us and, you know, to make it as easy as possible. Well to get ahold of an attorney when they most need one. So there’s a lot of marketing and community outreach that goes into  I feel like working at a law firm.

So it definitely more than I was aware of previously. So I learned a lot since working here and  I think marketing is a big component of what we do.  Prior to even my working here, I know that run and James have, you know, have had commercials that have been on television for a long time.  I’m sure many of the folks listening have heard those.

But we’re trying to do more and more to just continue to connect with people and to make people aware of all the great things  that we’re doing here.

Ruth: [00:04:55] That’s wonderful and more and more people know about you. All right. Now we’re going to switch to. Beyond talking about just law firm and we’re going to myth bust. So I think having been married to a lawyer, I can fairly say there is the run of jokes about how lawyers are tough. They’re not compassionate.

You know, they’re going to squeeze money out of you, but that’s not been the case for you. You have a foundation, let’s talk a little bit about where that came from James. You know, why did the affirm decide they wanted to get involved in philanthropy?

James Thompson: [00:05:34] Well  I think it really goes back to  the personal backgrounds  of Ron and myself.

I mean, both of us  came from  families that emphasized public service  emphasized community involvement.  I actually grew up in the New York area originally. I moved to Kansas city about 37 years ago.  But  just like Ron  even as kids, you know  we were involved in things. Our parents had us involved  in community projects  community awareness and having an understanding of issues.

And really understanding that as blessed as we haven’t been, there are so many other people who aren’t as blessed and really at different junctures in their lives.  Need assistance  and  need care  in terms of  someone reaching out. So I think it started with both of us having that DNA, so to speak  so that  when our business got up and right  we both felt  that was an extremely important  part of being there.

Well, part of this community, we both love Kansas city and Kansas city has been so good to us.  Our clients have been wonderful to us.  And so it’s it overall, it came from just wanting to give back and carry on kind of what we had been taught as early as our childhoods.

Ruth: [00:07:04] So how far back does the idea of a foundation versus, Oh, we can write a check and, you know, just give it personally.

I mean, you made this as part of your organization.

James Thompson: [00:07:15] Yeah, absolutely.  You know, originally    involvement was both personal involvement and financial involvement in the future unity  and it was, and the financial aspect of that really was writing a check and giving  monetarily when    when we could, and when we felt it was appropriate to do assist folks or assist community organizations, and it got to a point where  from a practical standpoint  for instance, with a foundation  you don’t have to  you don’t have to drain your charitable budget at the end of the year.

You can carry it over. It gave us a little more autonomy.  In terms of how we could assist  community organizations and folks in our community. So it just, it made sense in terms of  where we were headed in and how much larger  the giving aspect had become.  To have some more flexibility.

That’s really  where the idea of it  came from obviously tax advisors and legal advisors. You know,  you’d be better off doing this. It would give you  more freedom  and an ability to probably  broaden the scope of what we could do.

Ruth: [00:08:37] When did you establish them the foundation and how did you go about it?

James Thompson: [00:08:43] Well  I may not be the best person to ask about that.  I w when it was set up, we talked about the benefits of setting it up, and then there were signatures involved, but in terms of the legal aspect and the filings  that, that really was beyond me.  But I think we set this up about 10 or 12 years ago.

Is my best recollection. And    so it’s really worked out  very well.

Ruth: [00:09:14] So how does the foundation then get its funds? Is it just going down the hallway and asking everybody to kick in? Or how do you go out and ask folks to support what you do? Or maybe you don’t go outside.

James Thompson: [00:09:30] Well  at this point, most of the funding is through the firm.

So the firm, in other words, we’re not, there’s not a  a fund raising  component  of the foundation other than  from the firm.  So really  and you know, there, there’s obviously involvement in people    and  we encourage people to get involved. We encourage both are. Own employees, as well as  sometimes our clients to get involved in situations and opportunities to help in the community, whether they be walks  or  harvesters or other aspects  of our footprint.

So, but from a monetary standpoint, it’s funded at least currently a hundred percent from by the firm.

Ruth: [00:10:21] Well, thank you. On behalf of all the organizations you help, we’ll go dive deeper into some of those organizations and how you make those decisions. Shannon, what’s your role with the foundation? How are you involved?

Yeah,

Shannon Wallace: [00:10:33] absolutely. So  because you know, the attorneys that work here are so busy with, you know, practicing law  where I come in is I am the, you know, pretty much the direct point of contact for the organizations that we work with. So when there are charities and different groups from the Kansas city community that reached out to us, whether there are, you know, long standing partners  similarly.

Harvesters for one is one of our longest standing partners.  Or if it’s a new organization that we haven’t worked with in the past  I am responsible for communicating with those individuals  listening to their cause and what types of different  things that they’re trying to find funding for or different events that they’re looking to find support for.

And I speak with those individuals and learn a little bit more about what they’re trying to do. And then from there I work with Ron and James to kind of determine what our involvement will be.  Whether it is a financial, you know, sponsorship or something like that, or if it’s, you know, just even kind of helping to raise awareness across our own channels.

For an organization, especially some of those smaller organizations, just kind of getting the word out for those.  That’s definitely where I come in because I do manage our marketing channels as well.  We’re able to really connect with those nonprofits in the area on social media  to just kind of, you know, use our assets that way as well to, to support them.

Ruth: [00:11:55] Well, they’ve got somebody with a whole lot of energy behind that whole thing. That’s just great, James. I wanted to take us down the road to talk about how you make decisions on what you’re going to support. There is so much out there of, you know, organizations doing good work. So how do you put a lens on that?

James Thompson: [00:12:16] Well  so some of it actually  some of the organizations  are in some ways born from relationships we have  with our clients.  For instance, we’ve had situations where  clients have had a very  significant personal tragedy in their lives. And  they’d been able to at least.  Hold some of the folks that may be responsible for that tragedy.

Legally responsible and  taking some of what they have recovered from a monetary standpoint  and started court, started  organizations  to help people. I don’t really want to walk into a lot of the details of that. What organizations those are. But so there’s a, sometimes there’s an actual connection that arises out of our business where clients have chosen to really try to give back and make a difference, usually from a safety standpoint  whether it be  you know, child welfare  in terms of safety in the home or in other aspects, They’ve paid themselves have started foundation that they themselves have started organizations.

And so  that’s kind of an easy inaction.    In other situations it’s really a function of working with Shannon and Ron, and also developing a relationship with whether it be harvesters when there’ll be Royals charities.  Well, we don’t want to be his, you know, situation. And I think a lot of foundations probably agree with this.

I, we don’t want to be just writing a check. We want a connection.  We want a situation very often that allows  either our clients or our employees to become involved.  You know, it used to be  earlier on, we would try to do social events and things like that with our employees. And not that we don’t still do that.

From a team building standpoint, but we have found actually that  the most significant team building where everyone really feels good about things. Is when we do things when the charitable organization, again, whether it be heart harvesters is a great example. I mean, it’s just such a great organization, but    it makes it very easy to have people actually hands-on involved.

And that makes a huge difference in terms of building, building a team atmosphere within the firm. Which so, so I don’t mean to go on, but there’s, you know, there’s that intangible. That’s way beyond the monetary component that really enhancements even  our business internally based  by participating outside with outside organizations.

Ruth: [00:15:06] So it sounds like you really like it when there’s an opportunity for the whole Edelman Thompson team to become involved and engaged.

James Thompson: [00:15:14] Absolutely. And we’ve, you know, sometimes we brought those things in house.  And sometimes we go out  to a site or a facility for a day  and participate  with that organization  in hands-on helping as opposed to  being done.

When you drop your pen after putting your signature on a check,

Ruth: [00:15:39] getting your hands dirty, so to speak.

James Thompson: [00:15:41] Getting your hands dirty. I think, you know, Mo most of us really want to feel that  there’s that connection. There’s a connection between  what we’re doing and the impact that, that it can have.

Ruth: [00:15:56] Shannon. I’m going to throw this hard ball at you. Okay. It’s a pandemic that we’ve been living through. It’s been a really fun ride for a whole bunch of people. How has the foundation. Pivoted  or how did you manage that in this year? That’s still a lot of organizations needed a lot of help.

Shannon Wallace: [00:16:18] Yeah, it was definitely, I think a challenge, not just for us, but for, I think so many organizations  in the community.

Whereas I think on our end, you know, we just found that it was. Even more important to be involved and to show these organizations support. So we were basically just kind of  impacted by the way that the organizations were impacted. So when some of the different health organizations that we support, they typically run a variety of different walks and run events that are fundraising events.

In person  throughout the year, whereas in 2020, they were not able to do so. So that directly impacts their funding. That directly impacts people’s awareness because there aren’t these large scale events taking place in the community.  So a lot of those organizations took a big hit in terms of what they were able to raise with their funds.

Some of them were able to make their event a virtual version of events. So I think that I applaud all the different nonprofits throughout Kansas city. Now we’re able to, you know, pivot exactly like you say, and make the best of a situation that was difficult on all of us.  I certainly was impressed and seeing that, and I think that, you know, I was very glad that we were able to still contribute in that way.

Probably on a year that it was needed the most  particularly, you know, with harvesters community food bank  they were families facing food insecurity that never had dealt with that issue before. So harvest. The harvesters, we’re seeing, you know, new numbers of people coming through that needed support.

So we felt very inclined to want to be able  to continue to value that partnership and contribute to that organization  through this year, as well as you know, other past years,

Ruth: [00:18:00] has the pandemic changed in any way the lens the foundation has or how maybe you operate.

James Thompson: [00:18:13] I think that  as Shannon kind of alluded to  what the pandemic has done is  kind of opened up  needs that    were always there, but   not as great and new people coming in.

Who need assistance. So I think what the pandemic has done is there’s probably, if we were to go back and look at it  there’s a slight shift.  From our standpoint to organizations that  are providing basic necessities and basic needs.  And hopefully that will not be. Hopefully that will not be a permanent shift, but I think in terms of resources  we’ve tried to address kind of the most basic.

Basic needs that have come up through this pandemic  whether it be food insecurity or clothing or other areas. So  if there has been a change, that’s been it.  The other thing is we’ve I think in some situations we’ve tried to our financial contribution  because as Shannon said, I mean, these organizations, as, as creative as they have been to try to make that.

Kind of paradigm shift.  There, you know, it’s really hurt them from a funding standpoint.  You’re not gonna a virtual walk    is in some situations, not always, isn’t going to be  as  financial beneficial to the organization financially beneficial to your organization as a real walk.  So there’s  you know  we’ve tried to fill in some of the gap there in some of these organizations.

Ruth: [00:20:01] Well in having some conversation with some other nonprofits over the course of several months, it  what we’re hearing is that demand has gone up and while things are slowly changing  hopefully for the better, a lot of that demand is continuing  that, that struggle for a lot of people  is still going to be there.

Tell us a little  about your employees and their. Involvement with  your activities.  I think it’s an interesting relationship, you know, they’re the bosses. And then there are people who report to bosses. So how about that recruitment and that involvement? And maybe you can, you have motivators that others can learn from?

James Thompson: [00:20:48] Well  you know  I think that, and  I’ll certainly    I want  Shannon  to visit with me on this as well, but  you know, we have  we have an absolute great group of employees.  We don’t,  we’re probably not  if you’re looking for someone with the most creative ways to    you know, organize and creative ways of getting people involved  we really haven’t had to do that at least within our own  staff community and our own employees.

They are a great group of people who when given the option opportunity and the opportunities have been a little less during the day because of the way things have changed.  But certainly prior to the pandemic  we never had any shortage of participation  which is wonderful. And, you know, just seeing people out.

You know, an environment other than the office  joking, laughing  you know, feeling like they’re making a difference    has always been just to really, in some ways my favorite aspect  of. Being involved and having the foundation involved is seeing how  our employees and very often our clients  act in how important giving is to all of them.

So  I’m winded way of saying where we haven’t come up with any creative motivational strategies necessarily because we haven’t needed to.  But  You know, hopefully  we can expand participation. One of the things I’d like to do and with Shannon’s help is maybe try to find ways to broaden our client’s involvement because we have such a large client base now after.

Twenty-five years or so.  Actually more than that now, 27 years, I think  just it’s a massive  client base that Shannon helps us keep in contact with. So I think including them more, when things open up a bit and giving them a platform and an Avenue to pursue participate  is a goal that probably we should be moving on.

Ruth: [00:22:59] Janet. You’ve got a big job there  to make those connections and decide, you know, what’s the right project.  You know, what will resonate with bringing clients in  to be part of a whole different relationship? I would think. Right.

Shannon Wallace: [00:23:16] I think though, as James was saying, it is a big job, but I think it’s also, you know, a job that, because we work with such really wonderful people and that are compassionate and that truly care.

And I think, you know, just working in Kansas city, I’ve not always worked or lived in Kansas city.  But I feel like. Particularly here in this area, people genuinely do care very much about this community. And people are proud to say that they’re from Kansas city. And I think  that translates to wanting to be involved and wanting to give back as well.

So while yes  it’s definitely a big task to, you know, try and get folks. Evolves.  And just to make people aware of all the different things that are going on that and different opportunities to give back. I think that the community that we live in does make it  a little bit easier because people are quite engaged already and quite willing to get involved where they’re able to,

Ruth: [00:24:09] I don’t want to lose sight of some of the great things that you all have done in the community.

And I wanted to go ahead and let you have a moment to talk about what you’ve done with Royals charities. Can you elaborate? I mean, you’ve helped raise significant funds for that organization.

Shannon Wallace: [00:24:26] Yes, absolutely. So  you know, gross charities is one of our longstanding partnerships that I know we are very proud to be involved with.

They do wonderful work.  And I think with rural charities, what  they do a wonderful job of not ingest. Getting back to one specific area within the community. They, you know, contribute to children’s charities, to charities that are dedicated to education.  So youth sports and military families, so they definitely, you know, spread their efforts across a wide variety of great causes.

So that’s one of the reasons too that  I know that we’re drawn to them.  One of the, you know, the biggest aspects of our partnership with the Royals is that we are sponsors of the 50, 50 raffle.  So that, you know, is. Something that if you’ve been to a Royals game  or even if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard of a 50, 50 raffle.

But particularly this year  thrills have done a great job with changing ways that people can get involved.  Because the stadium is at reduced capacity, both scan and participate in the 50, 50 raffle from home.  If they would like to try accessing the MLB ballpark app on their phone    so that’s another great way that, you know, if individuals want to get involved and donate  to that, that overall jackpot for that raffle, a great portion of those proceeds goes toward one of the great charities that the Royal charities do support.

So we definitely advocate for that and encourage folks, you know, if they want to get involved themselves  in a really fun way that is. And on a personal level as well, too.  They can certainly access that whether they’re going to the games in person this year or whether they’re watching from home.

So that’s definitely a great way to get involved

Ruth: [00:26:04] and the Royals are doing great so far. We’re off to a good start. It’s a positive, it’s a positive way. Well, that’s really a way to spread your dollar, so to speak what, having, you know, this foundation and having done this for a while, particularly. Any tips or suggestions for other organizations that might consider giving back in the community.

Now that you’ve been doing it a while.

James Thompson: [00:26:31] Sure. I mean, I think it’s an absolute win-win  you know, it  there  from a business standpoint  it’s helpful, obviously it is  putting a face out there  that you do care. And I think  as Shannon said, Kansas Citians. Are a community of care  people who do care.

And I think they want to see others who care. So when you have the opportunity and the platform  to basically, and in some ways the publicity to show that face  and pay it forward, so to speak    you know, it is, it’s a good thing to do from a business standpoint. And also it’s an extremely good thing to do.

From a moral standpoint. And I think  businesses that take positions and take a strong stand in the community in terms of being a part of that community, not just taking out of that community.    I can’t see a downside  to the business in participating in that way. So I would, I mean  I would encourage any business that, and you don’t have to.

You don’t have to wait until you think you’re at a size where  you know, you can make a massive difference all at once. Starting a family. If I had to do it all over again, we probably would have started a foundation earlier than we did. And I would encourage others to do that because it gives an opportunity, like I said  by having a foundation, you have a little more autonomy, a little more freedom in terms of how that money can be spent and when it can be spent.

And  I would encourage other businesses who haven’t thought of going down that road that  to do it.    It’s not hard. At least it wasn’t hard for me, but that’s because maybe I didn’t understand the workings of it. But  you know, I think it’s extremely important. And as I said at the start, it’s a, win-win it really is a win for the organization.

   It’s a win for the comradery and team building within the organization. And obviously it’s a win for the community and it’s a, and it’s a good face to have out there.

Ruth: [00:28:44] Jan. And how about from your perspective, getting to do the backend stuff? Yeah,

Shannon Wallace: [00:28:49] I think honestly, I think for me, both professionally and personally, it is just, you learn so much about just the wealth of organizations that are in our area.

So I think it’s absolutely worthwhile, like James said it is a win-win  there’s no downside. And while it might be some added work to your plate, it’s.  It’s work that is good to do, and it is meaningful. So it definitely just makes you feel like you are a part of  something greater.

So I would absolutely recommend it. You know, anyone who’s involved in marketing for a business of any kind of corporate business  If you’re able to, you know, introduce a non-profit component and just get involved, you know, with community outreach. I think that there is no downside at all whatsoever. I think it just, you know, from a marketing and advertising standpoint also puts your business  on the forefront and you just start, you know, that much more in tune with your own community.

Ruth: [00:29:42] Well, thank you both for spending time with us and sharing with us what your foundation does being part of Kansas city. I loved what James said, you know, show that KC cares. Thanks for that little plug. That was wonderful. And that’s what we’re about is trying to share what great people like you are doing to make Kansas city the great place it is to live, work and play again.

Thank you so much for your time and sharing your story.

James Thompson: [00:30:07] Well, thank you so much, Ruth, for having us.

Ruth: [00:30:10] Thank you so much. You bet. And thank you for listening to KC cares, Kansas city’s non-profit voice we’re produced by charitable communications, also a nonprofit, and we’re proudly sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation.

If you’d like to be a guest on KC gears or underwriting opportunities. Please visit our website at KC cares, online.org and spread the love. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter at KC cares radio and on Instagram at KC cares online and don’t forget, and you can catch us on ESPN 15, 10:00 AM and 94.5 FM Saturday mornings at 8:00 AM.

Thank you for listening and watching KC cares.

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