Forever Changed by a Child

Posted on Jun 26th 2012 by Kate Warnock

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Learning and growing can happen at any age, don’t you think? Karen Fergusson, a Florida Blue employee of 28 years, lives by this mantra. Our third Blue Community Champion of the Year is a disarming, genuine kind of person who knows how to put complicated matters in very plain terms. It’s those characteristics that may have contributed to her connection with a special little girl we’ll call Sarah. Karen met Sarah through her involvement with the YMCA’s annual fundraising campaign fifteen years ago. After touring the New Life Educational Center in Jacksonville, a YMCA donation recipient, Karen knew she wanted to be involved. Karen and Sarah met on Sarah’s ninth birthday, and Sarah was ecstatic to have her very own  mentor. After spending some time together, Karen realized Sarah couldn’t read, and had already been held back two years. Karen didn’t know if she was up to the challenge Sarah presented but Karen’s mother, an English teacher, insisted that Post image for forever changed by a childshe not give up – no matter how unprepared for the task Karen felt. With her mother’s help and the assistance of Sarah’s mom, Karen was able to get Sarah tested for learning disabilities and was delighted when a special reading instructor was assigned to the student. This victory may have been enough for some. But not for Karen. Karen admits that she has become so invested in Sarah and her three siblings that she now regularly has the children over to her house. Karen took in their dog, Cocoa, when she became too expensive for Sarah’s family to keep.  She and her husband washed twelve loads of laundry on Christmas day so that Sarah’s family would have clean clothes to visit their grandma’s house.  And for that same season, Karen and Sarah went Christmas shopping for all 20 members of Sarah’s family at the Dollar Store – and every family member got their own gift bag. Karen’s coworkers have also become involved in helping Sarah and her family. They often drop off clothes for the kids and ask for their latest pictures. Karen jokingly adds that Sarah is now an 8 ½ shoe size – and lots of her women coworkers wear the same size. “I eye them and ask when they’ll be ready to give them to me for Sarah. Like we need an excuse to buy a new pair of shoes!”  Karen and her husband are in it for the long haul. “I’ll be with the family for as long as I can. It will be up to them.” Post image for forever changed by a child Karen feels her time with Sarah and her family has helped make her a better manager. “Coaching, rewarding and inspiring are so important.”  Few could deny that Karen Fergusson has done just that. Florida Blue is fortunate to have her as an employee and is privelaged to name her a Blue Community Champion of the Year. Have you ever risen to a challenge – and been changed for the better? Tell us about it in our comments below.

Filed under: Community  

Kate Warnock

Kate Warnock is a member of the Florida Blue social media team and has loved being at the forefront of the social wave @FLBlue. A marketer with ten years’ experience, Kate is also a wife and mom to two children. When not at work, you’ll find Kate listening to NPR, reading The New Yorker and Cooking Light, and arriving two minutes late to yoga class.

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Karen, thank you for making a difference in our community. You are an ispiration. We are proud of you.

Barbara, we think so, too! Thanks for your comment.

Karen is totally devoted to this "adopted" family, and has found ways to make them feel special. I am proud to call her a friend, and see the difference Karen makes in our community--one person at a time. Thanks to Florida Blue for sharing this story... Mary Kay Grimaldi, Community Hospice of Northeast Florida

Mary Kay, we appreciate your comment and were honored to feature Karen's story. Thank you for sharing!

Karen, I am so very proud of you. You are an incredible person and this family, and all of us, are better for having you in our lives. - Diane

Diane, we'll be sure Karen sees your beautiful complement!

Karen and her late husband's generosity, commitment, and passion for helping others is amazing. They have really "payed it forward." And inspired others to do so, too.

Betsy, thank you for your comment. We agree that Karen and her late husband are people who walked the talk. We hope more people will be inspired to do the same!

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