For Sebrena Walker-Bohnsack, giving back to the community has always been second nature. Sebrena remembers how her mother instilled in her and her sister a devotion and desire to serve others when she was just a small child. Sebrena learned to read long before she can remember and later helped teach her fellow first graders. By fourth grade, she read books to kindergarteners. Her passion for service would extend into her adult life resulting in thousands of hours spent in community service and a full-time career as the Manager of Occupational Health Services at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is a statewide customer-owned health insurer. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas forges alliances with local nonprofit organizations to build and sustain healthy communities.
This past November, Bohnsack was honored and surprised to receive Blue Cross’s prestigious Employee Volunteer of the Year award.
“Honestly, it felt a little hard to receive this kind of award,” said Sebrena. “It’s hard when you are recognized for things that you didn’t do for recognition. However, it’s important for companies to draw attention to the opportunities that are available for people to help. It’s not about me. It is about showcasing those community agencies we serve.”
The Blue Corps “Volunteer of the Year” award honors employees who make a difference in their community through exceptional volunteer efforts. Employees are nominated by their peers and all nominations are reviewed by a local committee, and one winner is selected by the plan president. In addition to senior leadership recognition, each winner receives a $1,000 grant to the winner’s nonprofit of choice and a Crystal keepsake and framed certificate seat on the Blue Corps Advisory Board.
Sebrena presented the grant to the Network of Community Ministries in Richardson, Texas. Sebrena serves on the Board and helps to oversee food, clothing, and financial assistance distribution alongside medical and dental care programs.
Sebrena expressed that the award presentation was an absolute honor but also, quite the surprise. She was asked to attend an emergency meeting with Dr. Dan McCoy, the President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas. When she entered, she was greeted by Dr. McCoy and a number of cameramen. Dr. McCoy shook her hand and proceeded with presenting her with the award. “They got me!” Sebrena exclaimed.
Sebrena continues to advocate for literacy just as she did as a young girl in first grade. She is a board member for both the Friends of the Richardson Public Library and the Richardson Reads One Book program. Both of these organizations promote community engagement by providing author lectures, providing library activities for all ages, and even offering college scholarships. She also advocates for disability rights through the advisory board for the Disability Management Employer Coalition and the Richardson Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee.
“I think we need to advocate for ways to serve our local communities,” says Sebrena. “There are people in need right here, right in your neighborhood.”
While serving others has always been a passion for Sebrena, she believes her faith has also played a significant role and a driving force in her community service/volunteering career.
“Giving to others or ‘serving’ is an extension of Christ’s love for us,” says Sebrena. “I can’t imagine doing something where I am not helping or contributing.”
“No matter what your career is, whether it’s a secular job or you work for a church, we should all be considered ministers.”
Sebrena graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in 1989 with her bachelor’s degree in Christian Education. She would then go on to pursue her Master’s degree in counseling from what was then East Texas State University, now known as Texas A&M University-Commerce. She served as a clinical counselor and agency administrator for approximately 20 years before stepping into her role at Blue Cross. She believes her training and years of experience in the mental health field have enabled and aided her in her current role.