Sessions included many of the usual topical elements: politics, controversy, techniques, issues, problems, solutions.
We learned about politics, drugs, communications, and settlements.
Presentations included panels on recent case law, pharmacology, and the UR/IMR process.
But what got my attention the most was the presence of Kids' Chance of California, the people that make up the organization, and most importantly the recipients of the scholarships that this organization has placed.
Kids' Chance provides scholarships to children of workers who suffer either fatal or very severe industrial accidents, and the stories the "kids" have are, of course, incredible.
Think about the impact of losing a parent (or both) at one of the most critical times of a young person's life: age 18, when we are considered "adults" with absolutely zero adult skills. This is the point in life when we are supposed to take care of ourselves, but the fact is that the vast majority of us lack the maturity, the knowledge, the fortitude, to take on the challenges of life, let alone go to college.
At the Kids' Chance reception we heard from Trent Johnson, son of double amputee Dwight Johnson, the organization's most recent scholarship recipient. He'll be going to University of Idaho to study agricultural engineering. To say that Kids' Chance is a huge help in this dream is an understatement - Trent comes from a family of seven, so family resources are stretched thin (even though Dwight, his father, helps make ends meet with his awesome custom art shoes). Without Kids' Chance, Trent wouldn't have this chance ... bottom line.
We heard from the Andrade brothers - Kids' Chance of California's first scholarship recipients. Their father was killed on the job in 2006.
Brittney Hudler told us about her pursuit of education, and the shock that came when she discovered how expensive it was.
Several others tugged at my heart as they described losing both parents to work tragedies, picking up the pieces, trying to get on with life, and finding Kids' Chance to help them get an education, create a career, and a new life's path.
It's easy to get hung up on our differences in workers' compensation. We all have issues and disagreements. Workers' compensation, for some reason, creates divides. There are walls that get in the way of communication. Some folks want to limit benefits, others want to expand them. Some feel they aren't treated fairly, others think the fairness is too one sided.
I don't care what your issues are. In workers' compensation we are charged with making sure that we provide people, and their families, support during bad periods of life. Some require more assistance than others. Some seek to take advantage of the system's gratuity, and others feel slighted by the program's inefficiencies.
Listen, we all do what we can within the limits of our resources and the law. I think that most people in the workers' compensation field, though, are genuinely humanitarian. I see it in the faces of the people I engage with. I hear it in their voices. I experience it through their actions.
Kids' Chance is one way that this industry can take down that wall of divide and disagreement, and demonstrate its goodness to the world. 87% of all donated dollars to Kids' Chance California (there are 26 state chapters now) go directly to scholarship recipients. In this age of questionable charities and diverted dollars, this is huge.
Kids' Chance will gladly accept donations - of course! But one of their challenges is finding and identifying qualified recipient candidates.
They're not concerned with GPAs, class placement, etc. Their only concern is that the children of work place tragedies get a degree.
If you're reading this blog, then you know of, or you know someone who knows of, a family that qualifies. Whether you're an applicant attorney, or a claims adjuster, contact Kids' Chance and learn how to nominate a young adult who needs that little extra help.