USI Insurance Services LLC’s decision to celebrate its 20th anniversary in August 2014 with an expanded community service program was so popular with employees that it has become an annual event.
“In April 2014, I started planning how we were going to celebrate our birthday,” says Kim Van Orman, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at the Valhalla, New York-based brokerage.
“We came up with the idea of having our entire organization spend the month of August 2014 giving back to our communities,” she said. Since they would dedicate 20 days a month to volunteering, they named the event 20 for 20.
Employees in offices around the country volunteered in their communities for the first 20 days of August. Since there were 21working days in August 2014, the 21st was given to them as a holiday, Van Orman said.
Employees embraced the program, and the company has continued to do so 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.
By 2021, 60% of their 238 volunteer events supported one or more diverse or underrepresented groups, “and we hope to expand that further,” Van Orman said.
Since the program’s inception, there have been more than 1,500 volunteer events where USI employees have helped more than 2.5 million people. Office teams have volunteered with local food banks and pantries, senior care centers, mentoring 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,” Van Orman said. “They ended up cleaning out the elephant enclosure, so a handful of elephants are included in the number of animals we’ve helped.”
Volunteering became very challenging during the month that fell during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, she said. “We were doing things virtually and doing things like making gift baskets. So we kept going,” she says.
Volunteer events for outdoor groups 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 non-profit organizations.
• CNA Financial Corp. — The insurer’s Thurgood Marshall Early Innovators Program teaches high school students to design plans to solve societal challenges and provides scholarships.
• ICW Group Insurance Cos. — The insurer started a six-week Black Youth Initiative Intern Program, where ICW staff worked with and coached students.
• Midwest Employers Casualty Co . — Insurer staff shopped and mentored local school students to create community connections that provide educational and social support.