Professional growth through volunteering

Around 25 years ago, Barb True was looking for a meaningful way to use her discretionary time. After taking inventory of her values, she decided to volunteer at community nonprofits. “I found it extremely fulfilling,” said True, vice president of claims and support services at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE). “I feel a deep responsibility to give back to my community.”

After spending time in board positions at various nonprofits, True refocused her energy to Partnership for Autism Career Employment, now known as Prosper Workforce Services (PWS). PWS is a subsidiary of Autism Action Partnership (AAP) and connects adults with autism to employment opportunities. Currently, True serves as an AAP board member at large.

Supporting individuals with autism is a cause near to True’s heart. “I have a great nephew who is neurodivergent and a dear family friend on the [autism] spectrum,” True said. “[Being involved] helps me understand and support them in the best way possible.”

When she looks at her involvement in the community and how it relates to her professional life, True said she’s proud to say her own core values align well with BCBSNE’s mission to champion the health and well-being of its members and the communities it serves.

In 2023, BCBSNE sponsored AAP as one of 20 statewide health agencies under the Combined Health Agencies Drive’s (CHAD) umbrella. Through its Health of Nebraska sponsorship, BCBSNE supports programs that address social determinants of health and a variety of health diagnoses, alongside CHAD, a local, donor designation-driven organization that has been the fundraising arm for Nebraska’s premier health agencies since 1972.

AAP’s initiatives promoting support, inclusion, and prosperity have significantly impacted the lives of individuals with autism across Nebraska. True said she’s witnessed firsthand the effect PWS has on the lives of adults with autism, including a successful employment placement at BCBSNE.  

“I’m so pleased to share that, through PWS, BCBSNE employed an individual with autism,” True said. “He was incredibly successful during his time at Blue Cross and was able to start living independently, paying for his own apartment.”

True believes in focusing on the commonalities between individuals who learn differently and happen to have autism and neurotypical individuals, leveraging the limitless potential for progress. She highlighted Justin Dougherty’s, AAP’s president and CEO, mission to dispel myths surrounding autism and emphasize the valuable contributions individuals with autism bring to the workforce. “I find the need to contribute to something greater than myself is key to living with a sense of purpose,” True said.

Specific to AAP and those who are neurodivergent, True has learned that the desire to connect with other humans through relationships, to live a full and productive life is universal with most people’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations. “If we all choose to focus on strengths and possibilities,” True said, “There’s so much more we could all accomplish together.”

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