As a Facilities dispatcher for KinderCare Education, Mei-Ling Kersey spends her days arranging repairs for centers and ensuring directors have the support they need to keep their buildings safe and welcoming for children and families. Kersey is used to being the one dispensing support, not receiving it, but when her husband became ill last fall, she found herself in need of help.
“In the space of a few days my husband went from totally healthy and vital to incredibly thin and ill. In the matter of a weekend our whole lives changed.”
One day last November, Kersey’s husband came home from work not feeling well. By Monday he still felt out of sorts and, as Kersey headed to work at the National Support Center in Portland, Ore., her husband went to the doctor. Kersey was at her desk when she got the call: her husband was so ill his doctor sent him to the hospital.
Her husband was diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease, a respiratory infection. The illness is so rare, her husband’s case was the first one ever documented in the state. He spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit and two months out of work, which made for a difficult holiday season and put a severe strain on the couple’s finances.
As Kersey struggled to balance work with caring for her husband – and managing their mounting bills – she wasn’t sure if things would ever return to normal. She struggled to remain optimistic in the face of mounting stress (at one point she wasn’t sure if she would be able to pay that month’s rent).
One day while commuting home on the MAX (Portland’s light rail system), Kersey saw a man with no legs cheerfully handing out candy canes to fellow passengers during the holiday season.
“I thought, ‘If he can find something positive, so can I,’” she said.
Kersey applied for the ONE Fund at the end of the year.
The ONE Fund helps KinderCare Education employees in need of immediate assistance due to a tragic event in their lives. It is supported solely by employees, for employees and has helped nearly 50 KinderCare teachers and staff since its inception in 2014.
She didn’t expect much, but when she got a call from the Benefits team at the end of the year saying her application had been approved, it was a huge blessing.
“It was a game changer,” she said. “That made it possible for me to be there for my husband and to make sure he had a home to go to after the hospital. It created the hope that we could get past this.”
Her husband is still in recovery – doctors estimate it could be another year before he feels like his former self – but, thanks to the support of her colleagues through the ONE Fund, Kersey feels optimistic again and encourages KinderCare Education employees to lend a hand to one another through the ONE Fund.
“We never had health issues before this,” she said. “You never know when things will change. If you can provide someone with the chance to get past feeling hopeless, you should.”
Employee participation is crucial to keep the ONE Fund strong. Click here (and click on the green button on the right hand start of the page after logging in) to start contributing any amount from your next paycheck and lend a hand to your coworkers in need.