Most Valuable Partner: Kenneth Badgett
Many community members are vital to the Exchange Visitor experience, from the sponsor, to the employer, and beyond. Due to distance, WWCE coordinators cannot always cultivate a close relationship in the way that local community members can, so we value those who truly go above and beyond to connect with our participants. Every American that our participants interact with shape their program and their understanding of America. In Louisville, WWCE is grateful to have a housing partner, Kenneth Badgett, who is dedicated to supporting our Exchange Visitors and playing a role in creating a successful program for them. Read our interview below to learn more about his story and involvement with our participants.
How did you become involved with the EV program / WWCE? The first year of the Fincastle (apartment building located in Louisville, KY) was all about building buzz one successful resident relationship at a time. Eventually, word got out to a local hotel representative who was interested in having program participants stay with us. Fortunately, the hotel recommended we connect with WWCE - and the rest is history!
How have your relationships/interacts with the EVs impacted you? Our property management team lives in the building, which means we are fully-immersed in this new chapter WITH the participants. Since we share a home, we get the opportunity to share many experiences. The list of positive impacts from the program and participants is long, but here are a couple that jump out…
Empathy - The program gives us a really unique opportunity to develop a deeper level of empathy as we now view the world through a wider lens.
Appreciation of family - We often talk to the parents of participants to reassure them that their loved-ones are in good hands. This selfless act of families who encourage their loved ones to participate in this amazing program … regardless of how much they may miss that person in the meantime - is a beautiful thing. From the personal side, I lost my parents at a young age. The program has blessed me with a first-hand look at unconditional love between family. Playing a part in this as the unofficial "big brother" of many of the participants (which has become my extended family) has been incredibly fulfilling.
Please tell us about your recent experience celebrating a participant’s birthday (corresponding photo above). We recently had a new participant arrive on his birthday. Traveling all day and all night is stressful enough and add on to that you're going to a place you've never been before - it can be overwhelming. The participant shared the range of emotions he was experiencing and conveyed how concerned he was about all of the unknowns that lied ahead. I had a little gap in my schedule, so I drove him to the store to help him pick up some of the essentials for his apartment … hoping to reassure him that he had nothing to worry about. Even though he grew up in India (a long way from where I grew up in Kentucky), it was striking how similar we were. The more time we spent together, the less important my remaining schedule felt … so I cleared the calendar and took him to a local BBQ restaurant where we continued our great conversation over a celebratory birthday dinner. Once we finished eating, we spent some time sharing his story with some of the restaurant staff. Then, in front of everyone, he hugged me and thanked me for everything. It was genuine and heartfelt. I could feel the weight lift off his shoulders as a smile came over his face. "THIS is why we do it", I thought to myself. We are truly lucky that WWCE and the EV program gives us that gift.
How do you think the EV program benefits the Louisville community? The EV program is a huge boost to the community! The first thing that comes to mind is their generosity. We had a toy drive over the holidays in December and we had several program participants donate to the cause. We know their budgets are tight and they still stepped up to help those that are less fortunate. Furthermore, their presence has helped grow many local small businesses downtown by creating a demand that cannot be ignored. From grocery/food options to new creative modes of transportation, their presence is helping many businesses sustain and even excel their growth. Also, the youth, the EV program puts many young, energetic individuals in one place. Adding their influence is a huge advantage to the city and Louisville will become more accommodating as we grow together.
Thank you, Kenneth, for being an exceptional partner!