Early Tuesday morning, Misty Kirwan received an email asking her to give a speech on behalf of the Kansas City Assembly Plant at tonight’s ceremony in Detroit that recognizes Ford workers who show dedication and community spirit.
Kirwan was one of four employees from the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo recognized by The Ford Motor Company and United Auto Workers for embodying Ford’s “Go Further” philosophy.
The others are Christal Sellers, Pedro McCabe and Cathy Davis. They are among nearly 50 other employees from across the country who were invited to Detroit.
“It is a huge honor because it shows me that my peers appreciate what we’ve done in helping our community,” said Kirwan, who has worked in the stock department for 25 years.
Never miss a local story.
Sellers, who will not be able to make the trip, was equally appreciative of Ford recognizing workers for what they do outside of work.
“I think it is very important just for morale,” said Sellers, who has worked in the stamping plant for 26 years. “I work among some of the most amazing people. You find out that you have been working with someone who has accomplished so much.
“I don’t think of myself that way.”
Each of the four employees has helped his or her community in different ways.
McCabe, a 13-year member of UAW Local 249, is being recognized for his service to both his country and Ford. McCabe has flown numerous combat missions during his many tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.
McCabe, an electrician, learned emergency response training at the plant so he could serve on the ERT team. Additionally, his first-aid skills also provided him the opportunity to volunteer in an Afghan hospital.
Davis, currently the director of the UAW-Ford Community Healthcare Initiative in Kansas City, was able to use the Employee Tuition Plans Program to fund more than half of her education. Davis was able to achieve her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing and a Ph.D. in community health using the program, which has allowed her to better serve the KCAP community.
Kirwan was chosen for her community involvement following her son’s untimely death. She serves as board secretary for the Kansas City chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, speaks during Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and shares her story with legislators on UAW Lobby Days.
Losing a son or daughter to violence is something a mother never gets over.
Kirwan lost her son, Chris Bartholomew, in 2007 when he was 21 years old. Her Ford family helped her get through it.
“My union brothers and sisters have been a very good support system for me,” Kirwan said. “They supported me through everything I have been through.”
During that time, Kirwan and her husband also received a card from another family that lost a son through violence.
“They told me how Parents of Murdered Children had helped them,” Kirwan said. “My husband and I attended a meeting. I just knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.”
There are no magical words for parents who lose a son or daughter because of violence.
“Be there for them,” Kirwan said. “That is the biggest thing you can do. Try to help them navigate the court system. Let them talk when they need to about their feelings.”
When Sellers learned that Kirwan was selected to give the speech, Sellers said Kirwan was the perfect choice.
Sellers uses a cheerleading type approach when she helps fellow co-workers get in better shape when they initially begin working out at the fitness center in KCAP.
Three years ago, Sellers participated in the body shop department’s “Biggest Loser Challenge.” Sellers dropped 106 pounds. Since then she has been helping others.
“Rarely will I approach them,” Sellers said. “I try to be a cheerleader. There are a lot of people there at the fitness center who are starting out. You have to have a cheerleader.
“That is how my fitness part of it started. I met somebody who had lost 220 pounds – half his body weight.”
One aspect of Ford’s “Go Further” program is it allows workers to learn about what other workers are doing to make their community a better place. Many of those achievements would probably go unnoticed without the program.
“I think it is amazing,” Kirwan said. “So many people in each of the plants do so much outside of work. A lot of us spend most of our time at work, but you don’t really know a person and then you see what they have done. It shows a lot about the integrity of people.”
Mecum Auctions returns to KC
An estimated 750 classic and collector cars are expected to cross the auction block when Mecum Auctions returns to the Kansas City Convention Center Dec. 4-6. The consignment list of cars, representing 15 states, includes a selection of American muscle cars, classics, hot rods, Resto Mods and more.
The event is open to buyers, sellers and spectators with general admission tickets available at the gate for $20 per person, per day; children 12 and younger are free. Doors open each day with the auction beginning at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4 and on Friday, Dec. 5 and at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 6. Portions of all three days will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network with a live stream of the entire auction presented at Mecum.com.
Among the main attraction consignments is a 1967 Shelby GT500 Fastback (Lot S120) restored by Ray Shimak, of Mason, Iowa, that is an AACA Junior and Senior award winner. Also among the headlining vehicles will be a 1971 Dodge Challenger Convertible (Lot S125) with a 426 CI Hemi engine with headers, R/T exhaust tips and valence and a Shaker hood with pins.
For more information, visit www.mecum.com or call 262-275-5050.
Nissan’s perfect HRC score
Nissan earned a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index for the second year in a row.
The HRC Corporate Equality Index is a national benchmarking survey and report that evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs and public engagement with the LGBT community. Nissan was among 364 major U.S. businesses that earned a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.
In August, Nissan sponsored the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s (NLGJA) national convention in Chicago, and as a part of the event, Nissan played host to a charity ride-and-drive featuring the Nissan Altima and Rogue. Nissan’s LGBT employee resource group, the Gay-Straight Alliance at Nissan (GSAN), was one of the strongest factors behind Nissan’s perfect score in 2013, too, and it continues to be the driving force behind a large portion of the company’s LGBT community outreach.
For more information on the Corporate Equality Index, visit www.hrc.org/cei.
If you have a story you would like to see in Making a Difference, email David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com