Teresa Deaton: From Agent to Advocate
An American Family Insurance agent with a passion for giving, Teresa Deaton has been active in her community since day one. Because for her, it’s not just about protecting and restoring the community when things go wrong, but being a presence they can count on, no matter what the circumstances.
“I started as an agent in Belton, Missouri in March 2015, and immediately started looking for opportunities to give back to the community,” shares Teresa. “The Belton School District offered the opportunity to work in the food pantry and I jumped at it! Every Friday I go to the high school to monitor the pantry and help students pick out food to take home for the weekend. And I collect food throughout the year and solicit fellow businesses in our local Chamber of Commerce for donations — they come through in huge ways.”
While monitoring the pantry might seem like an important, yet straight-forward task, there’s more to it than meets the eye. For Teresa, it’s a chance to build relationships and show up for kids who may be facing tough situations at home. And more often than not, she acts as a mentor and a friend.
“I develop relationships with these students throughout the school year,” says Teresa. “I’m there to listen and be a shoulder for them through some really tough things. These students deal with homelessness, addiction in their families, some even battle thoughts of suicide. I feel I can help keep kids from falling through the cracks. And it’s an amazing feeling to be trusted, and for these students to know I care about them.”
Her important work doesn’t stop there, though. She also volunteers for other youth-centered causes. Currently, she serves as a tactic co-chair, responsible for bringing the Ford Next Generation Learning Program to this same high school. She also recently became secretary on the board of the Belton Chamber of Commerce, and advocates for business outreach events and job fairs for the students. And through all this, she’s discovered her passion.
“It’s so rewarding to know I make a difference for these young people,” says Teresa. “I remember feeling a little lost when I was in high school. And for someone in the community to come from outside their school, a person who sees and hears and accepts them, is life changing. In just the little time I get to spend with them, my intent is to empower them and help them realize there’s a big world for them after high school, that they can do anything!”
Teresa’s dedication has not gone unnoticed. In fact, a couple of years ago the teachers and staff of the Belton School District awarded her agency with the Community Partner Award — an honor that strengthens her love for the community and her desire to do even more. Knowing how great it feels to give back, Teresa encourages us all to do the same.
“Ask for opportunities to give back. Ask at church, at local schools, at your place of employment. You can even find something you’re passionate about! But to start, just be available and let others know you want to help.”