From Mike: Today, I’m handing the blog over to Michael Tipton, President of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. He’s going to tell us about The Angel Award®, the best thing (in my opinion) the Foundation does to help everyday people do extraordinary good.
For our team at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, one of the best days of the year is a Friday afternoon in May. That’s when we get to call finalists for the Angel Award and tell them that they’ve been selected to be honored and receive a $25,000 grant for their nonprofit organization of choice.
We laugh and cry with honorees as they celebrate. Some of them hang up on us at first because they think we’re calling to sell them insurance. Or think the call must be some sort of joke. But mostly, they express relief. I can’t tell you the number of times an Angel has said something like, “I was just looking over the books trying to figure out how we were going to pay for [insert vital need] for our kids.”
As you probably know, for the past 29 years, the Foundation has recognized everyday people going above and beyond for Louisiana’s children with The Angel Award.
In that time, we’ve received more than 4,000 nominations (sometimes the same person gets nominated more than once). The program allows for eight Angels to receive the Award and a $25,000 grant each year, which means around 230 people have been chosen for this recognition.
Based on those seemingly low odds of a nominee being selected, our team gets asked from time to time, “Why bother?”
Here’s why: these people need to be seen. By you, by us and others. And even if they aren’t chosen this year, they may be in the future. And regardless, they still need to know that someone sees their work and celebrates it.
In my time working on this project, I’ve noticed that each Angel is different, but many of them share a similar story:
- They had a personal experience that moved them to stand up and start helping a child or a small group of children in need.
- Through their passion they have recruited a group of supporters to help do their work, and the work has grown.
- The nominee has given themselves over to the work, they live it. They walk side by side with children experiencing pain and trauma in ways many of us can’t bear to look at. It’s tough to go on, but they find the strength, and do it because kids need their support.
- And eventually, they recognize it’s time to find a way to inject additional resources into the work to keep supporting their kids. The Angel likely doesn’t have a background in fundraising, and when they read about nonprofits landing major gifts or high-dollar grants, they think, “I’m not sure how to do this. I’m just a regular person. No one’s going to invest in me.” But they start anyway because the need is there.
And that’s why you need to nominate your Angel. Not just because of the chance to receive support – but because they need to see themselves the way that you do. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to dig deep and find the tenacity to reach the next level. Whether that’s taking a leap of faith on hiring someone to support the mission or finding the courage to go and ask a donor for a major gift, there’s great value inunderstanding that they and the work they are doing are a big deal.
Sure, not every nonprofit will grow to a million-dollar budget. Not every person doing good will end up on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. But every single person who chooses action over complaining, who chooses compassion in the face of great pain, and who continues to show up even when it’s tough is an absolute hero.
But the Angels among us don’t always see or feel that. It’s part of the package of being a servant of people. So your job and our job is to help them see it.
And even if your nominee isn’t selected for this or another award – just knowing that someone, somewhere thinks of them as a hero will give them added strength to keep doing the work that needs to be done.
So tell us about those amazing people you know. The ones who are making our communities better by showing up every day and pouring their heart and soul into improving the health and lives of Louisiana’s children and families.
If you want to nominate an Angel, you can do it online at www.BCBSLAFoundation.org/nominate through April 7, 2023.