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USI Insurance Services LLC’s decision to celebrate its 20th anniversary in August 2014 with an extended community service program was so popular with employees that it has become an annual event.
“In April of 2014 I started planning how we were going to celebrate our birthday,” said Kim Van Orman, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at the Valhalla, New York-based brokerage.
“We came up with the idea to have our entire organization spend the month of August 2014 giving back to our communities,” she said. Because they would be dedicating 20 days of the month to volunteering, they named the event 20 for 20.
Employees in offices around the country volunteered in their communities during the first 20 days of August. Since there were 21 workdays in August 2014, the 21st day was given to them as a holiday, Ms. Van Orman said.
Employees embraced the program, which is now known as USI Gives Back, and the company has continued to do it ever since, she said.
Employees have also been encouraged to incorporate the values of USI’s diversity, equity and inclusion program into their nonprofit partnerships to help underrepresented or marginalized groups, she said.
In 2021, 60% of their 238 volunteer events supported one or more diverse or underrepresented groups, “and we’re hoping to expand that even further,” Ms. Van Orman said.
Since the program’s inception, there have been more than 1,500 volunteer events at which USI employees have helped more than 2.5 million people. Office teams have volunteered with local food banks and depositories, senior care centers, mentorship programs and outdoor beautification projects.
Over the years, they have also helped 31,000 animals by volunteering at local animal shelters — walking dogs, helping at adoption events and cleaning facilities.
“One of the groups volunteered to help a local zoo,” Ms. Van Orman said. “They ended up cleaning out the elephant enclosure, so a handful of elephants are included in the number of animals we have helped.”
Volunteering became very challenging during the month that fell during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said. “We did things virtually and did things like making gift baskets. So, we kept things going,” she said.
Outdoor group volunteer events were resumed in 2021. USI has also extended the duration of its volunteer campaign to run throughout August and September, to give local office teams more flexibility to plan their events while adhering to COVID-19 safety measures.
• American International Group Inc. — The insurer’s pro bono program provides free legal advice to individuals and nonprofits.
• CNA Financial Corp. — The insurer’s Thurgood Marshall Early Innovators Program teaches high school students to devise plans to solve community challenges and provides scholarships.
• ICW Group Insurance Cos. — The insurer started a six-week Black Youth Initiative Intern Program, in which ICW staff worked with and coached students.
• Midwest Employers Casualty Co. — The insurer’s staff tutored and mentored local school students to forge community connections that give educational and social support.
The 2022 Business Insurance U.S. Insurance Awards celebrate teams working across the insurance and risk management sector that are providing solutions to problems faced by commercial insurance buyers and supporting the industry.