By Marie Bradby

Dr. Karen Cost had just given a lecture to dermatology students at the University of Louisville when the chief of the department — Dr. Maurice Fliegelman — came up to her and told her that she should get involved in the community. “We need to get you on the board of Metro United Way (MUW),” she remembers him saying.

It was 1978 and Karen had just arrived in Louisville from Ohio to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship in microbiology and immunology at UofL.

Thirty-nine years later, Karen is still involved as a board member of the MUW, having served six terms and served as past president.

“I believe in what Metro United Way is doing,” says Karen, who has been a volunteer and donor all these years. “They have a better idea of where our donor dollars should go.”

Karen has served on other boards, including The Center for Women and Families and Bridge Haven.

She was recently elected chairperson of the Metro Louisville Board of Health. “That’s another way that volunteers can look out for the health of the community — to advocate and educate the community. My entire profession has been in health care.

“There’s more to being healthy than just having your check-up with a physician. We all need a healthy environment, to eat well, exercise, and have access to good health care. These social determinants of health are extremely important to your overall health outcome.”

“If you are an individual fortunate enough to be relatively healthy and self sufficient, you are only as good as the least well-off person in your community. There are social and economic determinants that make it difficult for some people to be successful. The community needs to address this.

“We all have to work and be in this life together.”

Find out what Paula Schoenhoff is doing to unite our community as part of our Why I Give series. 

Photo: Melissa Donald 
Illustration: Silvia Cabib