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


Find Swope Health at Juneteenth KC Health Expo

Swope Health will participate in the Juneteenth KC Health Expo, 12 pm -5 pm, Saturday, June 18 at Black Archives of Mid-America, 1722 E 17th Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64108.


The Health Expo features dozens of organizations providing health information and services, free, to the community.


Swope Health will offer free at-home COVID-19 test kids, masks and general information. Swope Health navigators will also be on hand to assist with Medicaid expansion enrollment.


The Health Expo, part of a day of Juneteenth Celebration, includes free ice cream, dental and vision checkups, youth immunizations and more.


The day’s celebration also offers a “Brunch and Learn” panel discussion on “The Past, Current, and Future Housing and Racial Equity in Kansas City and Nationwide.” Registration is required for the panel and brunch, which features three food options.


Join us for the Juneteenth KC Health Expo!

Vaccination event at DeLaSalle Education Center April 2

Swope Health hosted a vaccination and wellness event at DeLaSalle Education Center, 3737 Troost Ave., Kansas City, Missouri, on April 2.

At the event, Swope Health:

  • Administered 18 COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Performed 11 Dental Screenings
  • Registered seven individuals and scheduled two pediatric appointments
  • Assisted with three Medicaid enrollment applications
  • Distributed 90 at-home COVID-19 tests and about 150 N95 face masks.



Vaccinations at Blue Parkway SunFresh

Swope Health provided free COVID-19 vaccinations and home test kits on Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Blue Parkway SunFresh grocery, 4209 E. 50th Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri.

With volunteers assisting from J.E. Dunn Construction, more than 100 COVID-19 home-use test kits were distributed. Swope Health clinical teams offered first dose, second dose and booster vaccinations to 19 individuals.



Part of the team delivering COVID-19 test kits and vaccinations at Blue Parkway SunFresh. From left, Zoraya Rowlands, a member of the Swope Health board of directors and director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at JE Dunn Construction, with her son, Ethan Hernandez; Dr. Jennifer Frost, interim chief medical officer at Swope Health; Louis Armstrong, of JE Dunn Construction; DaRon McGee, community engagement manager at Swope Health; and Darius Drew of JE Dunn Construction.

Jan. 29 Vaccination event at De La Salle

Swope Health KidsCARE hosted a COVID-19 Vaccination event at De La Salle Education Center, 3737 Troost Ave., for students and family members on Jan. 29, 2022.

Here are some scenes from the event:

Wyandotte Food Giveaway Jan. 22

Swope Health associates joined forces with Harvesters for a food giveaway at Swope Health West on Saturday, January 22.  Food items distributed included cereal, soup and pinto beans.

MLK Day Food Giveaway

Here are some scenes from the Jan. 17 Food Giveaway at Swope Health Central. The event, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was supported by Harvesters and volunteers.

Pat Clarke of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association

Kialah Marshall, Swope Health patient advocate

Event at Swope Health Central

Volunteers Dennishia Toliver and Ja’Kel Ringo

Volunteer Cornelius Mitchell

Photos courtesy of Jazzlyn Johnson, Reporter, The Community Voice


Swope Health hosts Medicaid Expansion Town Hall

On Saturday, Nov. 20, Swope Health and the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus hosted a free Town Hall at Macedonia Baptist Church, 1700 E. Linwood Blvd., Kansas City, MO.

The event featured presentations on Medicaid expansion by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II and Jeron Ravin, JD, President and CEO of Swope Health.

The Kansas City branch of the NAACP, the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, KC Tenants, the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute are co-sponsors of the event.


Swope Health President and CEO Jeron Ravin and US Rep.  Emanuel Cleaver II shared information with the community at a Medicaid Expansion Town Hall.








Jeron Ravin fielded questions about Missouri Medicaid Expansion from the audience in a packed gymnasium at Macedonia Baptist Church. The event included breakfast for 150 registrants.








Missouri State Representative Ashley Bland Manlove was at the event promoting Medicaid Expansion efforts.

Vaccination event at Friendship Baptist

Swope Health supported a COVID-19 vaccination event on Saturday, Nov. 13  with Friendship Baptist Church, 3530 Chelsea Drive, Kansas City, MO.

The free event offered first and second doses and boosters for those who qualify, as well as the Pfizer vaccine  for kids age 5-11 with parent or guardian.

Co-sponsored by the Community Builders of Kansas City, the event also featured a free food and family essentials giveaway including turkeys, food, diapers and books. The event served 528 households or 2,372 individuals — 1,134 adults, 971 kids, and 267 seniors.

Additional sponsors included Jackson County Executive Frank White and Teresa White, Blue Parkway Sunfresh, Happy Bottoms, Harvesters, the Kansas City Public Library, Catholic Charities, the Greater Kansas City Building and Trades Construction Council and the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO.



November First Saturday Give-away

On Saturday, Nov. 6, Swope Health hosted a “First Saturday” food and family essentials giveaway at Swope Health Central.

The giveaway included food boxes, toiletries, cleaning supplies, turkeys and winter coats. The event served 587 people.

More than 100 volunteers supported the event, which was sponsored by Total Man, Harvesters, Community Action Agency of Kansas City, Aetna, Home State Health, Nexus, Urban League of Greater Kansas City, Sen. Barbara Anne Washington, Morningstar’s Development Company, Brass Pinnacle Group, McCown Gordon, United Way, Jackson County, Greater Kansas City Black Nurses Association, The Links Inc. and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ Office of Minority Health.