Going Beyond: ANN MITCHELL
UFG Insurance product analyst in corporate underwriting, Ann Mitchell, was named the 2019 UFG Insurance employee Go Beyond award winner. UFG is proud to donate $5,000 to her nonprofit of choice, Critter Crusaders, in honor of her dedication to selfless community service.
LIVES ENRICHED THROUGH GIVING BACK
Twelve years ago, Ann Mitchell and her husband were facing fear and the unknown when daughter Addison came into the world prematurely at only 29 weeks.
“She was born in March, and we were in the NICU until July,” Ann remembers. “In October, she had open heart surgery. She had four holes in her heart they had to close.”
March of Dimes, a nonprofit leading the way in support of healthy moms and babies, was a comfort to the Mitchells during the first months of Addison’s life.
“They helped us a lot, keeping our spirits up and helping us with anything we needed while we were in the NICU with her,” says Ann. “We’ve always been really vested in the March of Dimes.”
Today, the Mitchells team up to walk in the annual March for Babies in Cedar Rapids, raising money and awareness for March of Dimes. When Ann was approached to be part of UFG Insurance’s March of Dimes committee, she didn’t hesitate to join. The same was true nearly seven years ago when Ann was invited to volunteer for the American Heart Association, advocating for healthy hearts in honor of her daughter’s journey and, eventually, serving on its executive leadership committee.
“Once you find something that you’re passionate about or find something that has enriched your life, it doesn’t make it feel like volunteering, it makes it part of your everyday life,” she explains.
Ann’s everyday life includes sharing time with the PTA at Harding Middle School where active preteen Addison is a student. She raised $10,000 to help cover the medical costs of a friend’s child who was battling a rare form of cancer. She rings the Salvation Army bell during that organization’s Red Kettle campaign and adopts families through Olivet Mission each Thanksgiving and Christmas to ensure others have full bellies and joy-filled holidays.
“I did not have a lot growing up, and so I am very fortunate now to have extra to give back, not only money but time,” Ann states. “There were programs when I was younger that, if I hadn’t have had, I don’t know where I would have ended up.”
She credits the programs that made a difference in her childhood, like Camp Fire youth development activities and the Cedar Rapids Police Department’s Santa Cop event, with helping her realize the magnitude of supporting people in need as an adult.
“I’ve always felt like if I have the ability to give back to someone, why would I not?”
It’s that drive to give back that caught the attention of Ann’s coworkers and prompted a nomination for Go Beyond consideration. She calls winning the award “amazing” and “completely overwhelming.”
“You don’t do the work for recognition but, when people do recognize all of the work you’ve done, it makes you so happy,” says Ann. “You know you’re doing the right thing. You know you’re on the right track. I hope by other people seeing what I do, that makes them want to go out and find a cause they love and volunteer as well.”
One thing Ann appreciates about her decision to build a career at UFG Insurance is the up to 16 hours of community service time the company gives its employees.
“There aren’t a lot of companies that give you this block of time to go out every year and spend outside of work on causes you love,” she explains. “I’ve always worked for local companies that are based in Cedar Rapids and are vested in the community, but UFG takes it above and beyond.”
For Ann, who averages anywhere from 20 to 25 hours per month volunteering, the gift of time is important, especially as she prepares to add another effort to her plate through supporting Critter Crusaders animal care initiative.
“I’m looking to get more into animal causes because, when I was little, I didn’t have pets, and now I have four—two of them are shelter animals—so I see the importance of the work they do,” she states.
The Mitchell family also hopes to be able to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those in need at Salvation Army this year.
“Anytime I can give back,” Ann says, “I’m all for it.”