A Safe Haven
A.A. Munro Insurance helps youth centre double its impact for at-risk youth in Nova Scotia
Tracey Latulippe, staff development manager for A.A. Munro Insurance in Glace Bay, NS, was hearing lots of good things about the Undercurrent Youth Center, which opened its doors to more than 300 at-risk youth a week in 2010. But she knew the non-profit group needed help to support double that number of kids.
When brokerage president, Wayne Ezekiel, alerted all A.A. Munro branches across Nova Scotia that he was looking for projects to support through the 2012 Aviva Community Fund, Latulippe knew Undercurrent was a perfect fit.
“Glace Bay’s depressed economy has resulted in severe addiction issues and a sense of hopelessness amongst youth,” says Latulippe, an active community volunteer and coach for her two sons’ basketball team at the local junior high school. “Everyone here is behind doing something that gives the kids a positive alternative to drugs, so I called Wayne and suggested sponsoring the youth centre. He took it from there.”
Ezekiel contacted Undercurrent’s founder David Sawler, who’s also lead pastor of the community church, a motivational speaker and author. Together, they put a successful plan in place to try and win $130,000 in funding.
The plan took a lot of work and coordination. “After the first round, we were in 88th spot,” says Sawler. “We knew we had to strengthen our plan to get to the top 10 by round three…or not go on. It was great having Wayne’s team help my team get the votes.”
Successful tactics included:
- Mobilizing 100 A.A. Munro employees in 20 branches throughout Nova Scotia, along with local businesses, community members and politicians to reach out to their network of family, friends and associates from coast-to-coast and get them to vote,
- Printing and handing out 20,000 flyers to schools, businesses, radio stations and hockey arenas to raise awareness and support,
- Posting videos on YouTube and the AvivaCommunityFund.org website to tell the centre’s compelling story.
Other Nova Scotia brokers threw their support behind the Glace Bay project, including: Macleod Lorway Insurance in Sydney and New Glasgow; McKillop & Johnson Insurance in Port Hawkesbury; Huestis & Huestis Ltd.’s Brooklyn/Coastal Insurance in Windsor; H.S. Terris Insurance in Springhill; Stanhope Simpson Insurance Ltd. in Halifax, and even Omni Insurance Brokers in St. Thomas, Ont. And, to help with voting, local schools opened their computer labs for people without computers.
The grand prize is now being used to build a new music room, indoor skate park, rock-climbing wall, basketball court, games room, lunch room and kitchen, as well as to purchase new instruments and a new sound system. These additions will double the centre’s capacity, supporting up to 600 youth per week. More youth workers and qualified volunteers will provide mentorship, as well as programs for youth and parents that offer new skills and life lessons to benefit the whole community.
“The online format of the Aviva contest raised so much awareness that people are continuing to donate to the centre,” Sawler notes. “That’s important for our sustainability.”
Wayne Ezekiel agrees social media offers a huge advantage when it comes to reaching more people than ever before.
“Our brokerage recently sponsored a Facebook campaign to raise awareness of the great work being done by local volunteer fire departments in Nova Scotia’s rural communities,” he explains. “We gave $10,000 to the fire department that got the most ‘Likes’ and $1,000 for second place.”
A.A. Munro also supports local arenas, sports teams, hospitals, arts and culture organizations, school food programs and many other non-profit groups. “Because our staff and customers live and work in these communities, we do it willingly,” Ezekiel adds.
That’s great news and comfort for Tracey Latulippe.
“I always worried when my boys went to the outdoor skateboard park because with all the drugs in town, kids could get into all kinds of trouble,” she explains. “But now when they say they’re going to run down to the Undercurrent, I say, ‘Great! Have fun!’ And I don’t worry anymore.”
Copyright 2013 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the April 2013 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.