Collector - May 2018 - 7
ACA International Member Kelly
Meade Joins Ms. Veteran America
elly Meade is using her experience
as a military veteran to advocate
for homeless veterans, particularly
women, in the Ms. Veteran America
competition this year.
Meade, an ACA International member
and collection manager at Universal Credit
Services in Hartland, Mich., served for four
years (1985-1989) as a specialist in the U.S.
Army after high school.
Since then, she attended college and
continued her career in the credit and
collection industry, and later began
volunteering as a mentor with the veteran
treatment court in Michigan.
A prosecuting attorney in the veteran
treatment court recently contacted Meade
regarding an opportunity to participate in
Ms. Veteran America, she recalls.
"She said I was the first person she
thought of," Meade said.
Meade knew little about the competition
and its mission to raise awareness and money
to help homeless veterans, particularly
women-but said she was inspired to help
and learn more about the cause.
Now, in addition to being a voice for
homeless veterans and raising money, Meade
is a semifinalist in Ms. Veteran America. She
2016 Ms. Veteran America contestants. Photo: Brian D. Engler.
will compete with other semifinalists in June
in Arlington, Va., with the hopes of making
the finals in October in Washington, D.C.
"I am focused on educating people to help
them get over the stigma [they] have about
veterans," Meade said.
Semifinalists raising money and awareness
as part of Ms. Veteran America help support
Final Salute Inc., which provides housing,
emergency funding, counseling and
education to veterans, Meade said.
According to the Final Salute Inc. website,
female veterans are two to three times more
likely to be homeless than any other group in
the U.S. adult population, and 70 percent of
these women are single mothers.
The winner of Ms. Veteran America will
be an ambassador for the following year
and attend speaking engagements and other
events, according to Meade.
Learning about the movement of
Ms. Veteran America and the needs of
homeless veterans has inspired Meade,
although she was nervous to speak in
public about the cause at first.
"It really opened my eyes that this is a
serious problem. These women, they're
being overlooked. It fires me up. It gives me
the courage to do it," she said.
of the Year
mericollect, an ACA International
member company in Manitowoc,
Wis., was named the Large
Business of the Year at the 101st Annual
Dinner and Meeting of The Chamber of
Manitowoc County in February 2018.
Americollect has experienced continued
growth under President and CEO Kenlyn
T. Gretz's leadership, according to a news
release on the award. The company had 12
employees in 1999 and has more than 250
"Our consistent growth over the years can
be directly contributed to our hardworking
team members at Americollect," Gretz
said. "Our team really shows passion for
what they do. Team members work closely
with patients to help them resolve their
medical debt. They show compassion and
understanding and are truly living out our
'Ridiculously Nice' commitment."
Americollect is currently on a mission to
change the way collection agencies are viewed.
"By using our 'Ridiculously Nice' approach
we are demonstrating to patients, clients and
others that we are here to help," Gretz said. "It
brings us joy to see patients reach their goals
of making that last payment."
Kenlyn Gretz accepts the Large Business of the Year award on
behalf of Americollect.