From supporting communities in the wake of a disaster to advocating for them in education, politics and more, independent agents are pillars within their community.
Independent insurance agents and community service go hand in hand. From supporting communities in the wake of a disaster to advocating for them in education, politics and more, independent agents are pillars within their community.
The Big “I" national Young Agents Committee (YAC) invites state associations, agents and companies to give back to the community by joining in the GIVE Movement, taking place June 1-10, and sharing their activity by posting on social media using the hashtag #TCAgentsGive.
The GIVE Movement was inspired by the Young Agents Committee of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois' program, #IIADayofGiving. While the GIVE Movement is only ten days long, YAC encourages Big “I" members to share what you are doing for your community year-round by posting and using the hashtag.
Here are five ideas for how you can get started:
1) Start a fund. When Ben Rathbun, president of The Rathbun Agency in Lansing, Michigan, was awarded the 2021 Dan Fulwider Award, he donated $1,000 in prize money to start a scholarship fund in memorial of a local Farmers agent, Greg Hurst, who recently died of cancer.
The Greg Hurst Memorial Scholarship will “remember Greg by supporting scholarships for Olivet College Insurance and Risk management students, a program he loved," according to the donation page.
Starting a scholarship can be complicated, but you can set aside tax-free money to give deserving students to help them afford their college education. Find out how to get started via the Scholarship Institute.
Over 30 years ago, Bob Ricketts, owner of Ricketts and Associates in Boise, Idaho, resurrected and grew a local nonprofit called Light My Fire, which raises funds for community fire departments to provide various services. Some of the programs Light My Fire provides includes fire prevention education in local schools and the “Burn-Out Fund," which provides money to help fire victims with temporary housing and other costs.
“I've been an independent insurance agent for 47 years, and I know that fire-prevention education saves lives and reduces the loss of property," Ricketts said upon receiving the 2020 Make More Happen Award, which comes with a donation of up to $10,000 from Liberty Mutual and Safeco.
2) Make something. Crafts for charity are an easy, inexpensive and communal way to give back to those in need. During the 2022 Big “I" Legislative Conference, the Executive Committee spouses joined together to sew pillows for the Inova Schar Cancer Institute breast cancer ward in Alexandria, Virginia. The pillows are shaped perfectly to protect sensitive spots after a mastectomy or lump removal and can be used to alleviate chest pain.
Take a look at the finished product or find out how you can host a similar event at Sew4Good by See Kate Sew.
3) Host an event. Fundraising events are another great way to raise money for a cause. Next week, Jesse Konold, owner and partner at BridgeMark Insurance Solutions Inc., is hosting a fundraiser for “much-needed canopy shades" at the Mobridge Aquatic Center in Mobridge, South Dakota. “We are offering matching funds up to $5,000 for that day," notes the event's Facebook page.
Meanwhile, the Nevada Independent Insurance Agents is hosting a GIVE event with live music, a cornhole competition and axe throwing at the association's annual convention in Las Vegas. “All proceeds will go to our designated charity for this year—Kids' Chance of Nevada," says Jana Foster, owner and producer, Nevada Insurance Agency Company, Carson City, Nevada. “They provide college and technical scholarships to the children of parents who have been killed or severely injured in a workplace accident in Nevada."
4) Volunteer. Support the causes that matter to you, your team and your community with hands-on help for local charities or national organizations that have a presence in your area.
Members of the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents are volunteering at Cradles to Crayons, which combats children's clothing insecurity and provides packages of basic essentials like clothing, shoes, diapers and school supplies to children who don't have access.
“The best part is at the end of the day you can count how many children and families your group was able to help. We don't know names or anything, just the child's age, and you get a list of things they need," says Cassandra Koegel, assistant vice president, business development at Eastern Insurance Group in Stoughton, Massachusetts. “My favorite part is if that child has a birthday coming up you get to also pick out a birthday present for them and make them a card, in addition to their backpack."
5) Support our veterans. In 2019, Lisa Lemanski, owner, operations manager, independent insurance agent, at Meiers Lombardini Lemanski Insurance Services in East Lansing, Michigan, volunteered to be a citizen guardian on an honor flight with Talons Out.
An honor flight is a free flight to Washington, D.C., for World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans for their last mission to see the nation's memorials on the National Mall. While working with Talons Out, Lemanski learned that, during the experience, the veterans have mail call where they receive letters and cards from friends and family. “Our initial goal was 500 cards, but once the word spread, we found ourselves readjusting our goal," Lemanski says.
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.