Ever since she was five years old, Kristen Gregory had dreamed of having her own farm where she would have horses she could ride. Her mother wouldn’t let her get a pet as a child and told her, “When you move out on your own, you can have any animal you want.”
When Gregory turned 18, her mother – a Ford electrician who retired after 40 years – added her daughter to the lottery system that was used to hire new Ford employees at the time. Five years later, Gregory received the call. With some maternal nudging and years of being reminded what a career with the company could mean, she accepted the role. A second-generation UAW-Ford team member, Gregory began her Ford Motor Company career in 2010 at the Michigan Saline plant where she served as an inspector for Ford Focus dashboards.
When the Saline plant closed, Gregory was presented with transfer options: Chicago or Louisville. “Country was what I yearned for. My whole life, I have wanted horses. I chose Louisville [Assembly Plant] because when you think horses, you think Kentucky.”
With support from her mom, Gregory transitioned to living in a new city, which proved to be a rough adjustment at first. When Gregory’s manager noticed that she was having a particularly tough day, he encouraged her to connect with the Employee Support Service Program (ESSP) representative at the plant.
Employee Support Services Program (ESSP) — a benefit offered through the UAW-Ford Joint Trust — provides employees with resources to identify and address personal and professional challenges that impact health, wellbeing, or performance. Individuals experiencing such issues can reach out to their local ESSP representative, who will help them connect with professional agencies or private counselors.
The ESSP representative shared resources with Gregory and helped her register for a specialized program of her choice to help resolve the challenges she was experiencing. Through that program, Gregory was able to connect with other UAW-Ford team members as they identified, explored and supported each other in the various struggles in their lives.