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A Tradition of Volunteering

Making a Difference

A Tradition of Volunteering

Kim Sweazy (middle) volunteering on phones on KET's TeleFund set during the 1990s. Kim is seated between a man and a woman, two other volunteers, and behind her is a woman standing, another volunteer seated and pictures of Luciano Pavarotti and a colorful parrot on the set walls.
Kim Sweazy (middle) volunteering at TeleFund during the 1990s

For more than 25 years, employees from the Toyota Manufacturing plant in Georgetown have volunteered their time in support of KET’s pledge drives, answering phones and taking donations from viewers.

It’s an annual tradition that Kim Sweazy, a corporate communications analyst with Toyota who often serves as the group’s on-air spokesperson, says is a labor of love for those involved.

“If you grew up in the Commonwealth, chances are you grew up with KET,” Sweazy said. “We’ve all had a time in our lives where we’ve sat and watched Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, whether yourself or with a child, so it’s kind of nostalgic to come and support something you’ve enjoyed and grew up watching.”

KET, Sweazy said, is part of the fabric of Kentucky, offering a window through which people learn about the history and highlights of their home state. She said she was reminded of this on a recent trip to London, Kentucky, when she found herself looking around and thinking, “I saw this on KET, and I saw that on KET.”

If you grew up in the Commonwealth, chances are you grew up with KET.

Kim Sweazy

“Being a tourist in your own home state is a great thing,” Sweazy said. “And I love that programs like Kentucky Life show that there are still surprises right here in the Commonwealth, these little treasures that I didn’t even know existed.”

Kim Sweazy, posing for a photograph, wearing a blue Toyota logo polo shirt and smiling in front of a dark-colored Toyota car and the Toyota logo.

That spirit of exploration is something that Toyota, likewise, embraces and encourages in its workforce, Sweazy said. The word around the plant is “kaizen,” a Japanese term that translates to “seeking continuous improvement through incremental positive changes.”

That sense of continuous improvement, Sweazy said, is likewise something she sees in KET’s programming.

“When someone turns on KET, I think it’s very purposeful,” she said. “They’re watching to learn something, whether it’s how to read and write, cook the perfect pasta or sit back and watch Rick Steves take us through Europe; these are all things people love, and it’s all very comforting and mind-opening.”

Toyota’s history of volunteering for KET pledge drives, Sweazy said, has made it something of a family affair, with employees bringing their children – some of whom have grown up, gotten jobs at Toyota and continued the tradition.

“We’ve even had retirees who come back year after year because they still want to volunteer for KET,” Sweazy added. “I think when you can find a volunteer event that’s fun to do but also meaningful, well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.”