Swope Health

Best Seat in the House: Three Lessons from the South Lawn

Editor’s note: the following post was written by guest blogger Bridget Locke, Director of Strategic Communications, Swope Health

It was predicted to be epic, and it lived up to the hype.

The 2023 NFL Draft, hosted in Kansas City, brought in 312,000 attendees over three days, and the energy was palpable from the very beginning. Attendees donned their favorite jerseys and colorful outfits, tossed footballs, played organized games, danced to upbeat deejay sets, and cheered wildly as their favorite teams selected new players for their rosters.

Swope Health’s role, providing free COVID-19 vaccines in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ We Can Do This Public Education Campaign, wouldn’t be the lead story, and we readily accepted it. After all, the draft is about the promise and tenacity of the NFL hopefuls who are dressed in their finest attire, surrounded by friends and family, hoping to hear the announcement that will change their lives. From the main stage of the draft, there were plenty of inspiring stories to be told.

Still, the stories shared under our volunteer tent were inspiring, too.

Swope Health administered the vaccine to almost 150 people who hailed from ten different states and nearly every walk of life: Men. Women. Couples. Friends. Parents and children. Grandparents and grandchildren. Executives. College students. Retirees. Every interaction was unique and meaningful. Some stopped by to ask questions; others sat in our chairs and rolled up their sleeves to ensure they were up-to-date on COVID-19 protection. At least three people received COVID-19 vaccines for the very first time.

While our very efficient clinical team handled the important assignment of administering the vaccine, I stood at the other station under our tent, handing out literature and swag bags to a very steady stream of visitors. People recognized Swope Health. Many stopped to say hello and tell us they know someone who is Swope Health-affiliated, either as a patient, or as a current or former associate.

Volunteering at the 2023 NFL Draft taught me three important lessons:

Mission-supporting activities create powerful team-building moments.
Though I’d never take anything away from team-building experiences that are unrelated to work, bonding over the services you provide is really fulfilling. Each volunteer team worked hard, laughed out loud and knew their role in bringing people to the booth and serving them well once they arrived. I can’t help but feel as though I’ve made new Swope Health friends through volunteering at the NFL Draft Experience and am eager to see how those interactions will enhance my workplace experience.

Challenge your assumptions.
Although we prepared ourselves for scores of visitors, I wasn’t sure how many we’d serve, given the celebratory nature of the event and the reality of COVID-19 fatigue. To my (pleasant!) surprise, there remains a steady stream of people who want to ensure they remain protected against the virus. Lesson for me: Embrace the possibility that people can still surprise you for the better. Because of the devastation that COVID-19 has caused around the world, I felt encouraged to see people remaining vigilant in staying protected against it, even in the midst of a three-day celebration.

Swope Health is a great place to work, and it starts with the people.
It was truly an honor for Swope Health to be the only locally-based non-profit invited to participate in the NFL Draft Experience. I see that as a testament to our reputation in the Kansas City community. Behind Swope Health’s mission, which is purposeful and powerful, there are devoted professionals who come in early, stay late, sacrifice rest and free time, and juggle multiple projects and priorities to achieve the ultimate goal: serving patients and the community. Preparing for the 2023 NFL Draft elevated the true dedication of Swope Health’s people. I witnessed it from the best seat in the house: our volunteer table on the south lawn of the WWI Museum and Memorial. And now, I know in my soul that the effort of our associates is what makes us stand out.

In that spirit, I’d like to personally thank the following associates for making Swope Health’s participation in the draft so successful.
• Tekisha Edwards
• Andrea Franco
• Kenyea Frazier
• Alina Gargesh
• Antonette Gatewood
• Daniel Gilmore
• Emily Glen
• Angela Hawkins
• Bobby Jackson
• Dr. Naiomi Jamal
• Norvel King
• Renee Loenen
• Rachel Melson
• DaRon McGee
• Josette Mitchell
• Christopher Monroe
• John Morris
• Yuzi Mussa
• Stephanie Nickell
• Grace Okonta
• Samantha Pierre
• Jeron Ravin, JD
• Tamika Reliford
• Shannon Robertson
• Alejandra Rodela Salcedo
• Dr. Kenneth Thomas
• Debra Simpson
• Helston Singleton
• Angela Smart
• Tyson Sullivan
• Melanie Traynham
• Shaquwanda Walker
• Wendy White
• Kim Wood
• Raytosha Wright




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