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BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Invests for Impact Through Midlands Gives Board Leadership Prize

We’re thrilled to see the community invest for impact through Midlands Gives by uplifting our region’s nonprofits. We’re thankful for our great partners, like BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, whose support is invaluable as we work together to celebrate and increase philanthropy throughout Midlands Gives.

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (BCBSSC) will again this year sponsor the Board Leadership Prize, awarding a total of $5,000 to five nonprofits randomly drawn from the gifts given by board members during the early giving period. Donors must indicate they’re a board member by checking the box during the checkout process so the gift will qualify for the drawing.

BCBSSC’s Board Leadership Prize was created not only to invest in our community’s nonprofits but also to recognize the numerous BCBSSC employees who volunteer on nonprofit boards throughout the Midlands.

We asked four BCBSSC employees who serve on nonprofit boards to share their experiences. Their responses are below.

Donna Polk, AVP Enterprise Architect
Historic Columbia Board Member

Why do you serve on a nonprofit board?
I joined the board of Historic Columbia because I wholeheartedly support the purpose. It is an organization that not only preserves places, but shares artifacts and stories of the people, unique and diverse, that breathed life into those places. Life stories matter and Historic Columbia uses them to educate, connect and inspire people of all ages in Columbia and across the Midlands.

What have you learned while serving on a nonprofit board?
My skills, experience and passionate opinions are transferrable to board service. Historic Columbia advocates for historic preservation and acts in an advisory role to other organizations who want to do the same. Gathering and publishing related, untold historical accounts makes the site preservations relevant and meaningful to more people. History does not change, but our understanding of history broadens when we embrace different perspectives.

Why is board leadership important?

Nonprofits need boards with varying education, work and life experience, but a shared commitment to service. Boards provide oversight and offer guidance. Board members also assist in developing government, corporate and community relationships that help advance the goals of the non-profit. With a strong board, nonprofit staff and volunteers can devote more energy to delivering services in the most impactful way.

Sarah Martin, Vice President of Partner Solutions
Christian Assistance Bridge (CAB) Board Member

Why do you serve on a nonprofit board?
It has created a deeper connection with an organization that I already support through recurring donations. The mission is hyper-local, providing immediate emergency assistance to those in the community I live in. The impact is tangible, which makes it incredibly fulfilling.

What have they learned while serving on a nonprofit board?
The pandemic was hard on everyone, but for some, it meant making life-changing decisions to lose electricity, food and even their home. Our board has been thoughtful to identify the most urgent needs, which may be different than how things have always been done. It’s a reminder to keep attuned to the audience you are serving.

Why is board leadership important?
Everyone brings a specific skill set that can benefit an organization. For me, providing marketing support helped launch new branding to communicate the organization’s mission more effectively. It also hones your skills through collaboration with other board members.

Jeremy Grainger, Vice President
Christian Assistance Bridge (CAB) Board Member

Why do you serve on a nonprofit board?
Having lived in the Blythewood community most of my life, I have had various experiences which have enlightened me about the needs of the community. Being aware of the needs, I see it as my responsibility as a community member to take action to help alleviate those needs in some way. We have all had those moments in life where things were difficult, whether it be physically, fiscally or mentally related. CAB exists to feed those who are hungry and help those who are struggling through various circumstances by giving them a “hand-up” to attempt to get them through their particular situations. I chose to be involved because I have been there and I see this not as a job, but an opportunity to help someone through similar times.

What have you learned while serving on a nonprofit board?
Much like any other organization, having the right people involved and leading is important. It’s about knowing the needs of those you are serving, ensuring those people are represented and ensuring you have people who are willing to fight for that representation and their needs.

Why is board leadership important?
A defined goal, a strategy to reach that goal, activities aligned to that strategy and measurements in place to ensure you are moving in that direction, are essential to any successful endeavor. As a member of the board, the leadership in place should consistently ensure those things are maintained. I’ve had the luxury of working at BlueCross for the last 20+ years and have worked under amazing leaders who helped mentor and tune my leadership skillsets. These leaders fed me and now I am able to “pay it forward” and use these skills to literally feed others.

Jenny Morales, I/S Client Advocate
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) – SC Chapter Board Member

Why do you serve on a nonprofit board?
I have served on the SC Chapter board of the AFSP for over three years, and their mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide matches my passion.  After losing a child to suicide, I joined this nonprofit board as part of my healing journey — to be a voice for others with similar stories, to help break the stigma associated with mental health and as a platform for educating my community on risk factors and warning signs.  For me, helping has been healing.

What have you learned while serving on a nonprofit board?
While serving on the board, I have learned that no one is alone in their journey, and everyone has a story!  Joining the AFSP family has allowed me to connect with others on the same mission to achieve a common goal.  People often say “one person cannot make a difference” however, this board has taught me how different backgrounds and insights banding together can give back to our community in a major way, saving lives and sharing the message of hope and support.

Why is board leadership important?
Volunteer work and giving back to our community is vital and purposeful, as we, or someone we love, will need help at some point in our lives. Serving on a board is important because it is an opportunity to understand the organization you support at a higher level, to be a unique voice and an integral part of their mission, and to reach out and help our community in ways that we could not accomplish on our own. At the end of the day, it can be quite fulfilling to know you are a part of a team that impacts lives in such a positive way!

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