Safeco change agents address food security to stamp out hunger

Richards, Seeley & Schaefer staff at food bank
June 20, 2017
By Safeco
Giving back feels great. We all wish we could find time to do it more often. These agents went beyond the wishing and took action, donating their time towards helping their communities stamp out hunger. Their efforts have been rewarded and they have been named Safeco Change Agents, earning a $2,000 donation each to their chosen nonprofit. Read their stories – and tips – about giving back.

Safeco Change Agent: Keith Lapointe, Garnsey Brothers Insurance, Sanford, Maine
Nonprofit: Strategies for a Stronger Sanford, Sanford, Maine

“A huge commitment is not necessary to make a big difference,” says Keith Lapointe of Garnsey Brothers Insurance in Sanford, Maine.

For six years now, Lapointe and others at the company have been preparing and distributing backpacks full of food for the Sanford Backpack Program, an initiative of Strategies for a Stronger Sanford.

The program helps ensure children in need have nutritious, easy-to-prepare food over the weekend, so they can return to school on Monday ready to learn, said Ayn Hanselmann, a local CPA who volunteers as donation coordinator for the program.

Delivering about 150 backpacks takes just over an hour per week, Lapointe said. “And if it’s a busy week, it’s easy to make up this time by staying a few minutes late or just cutting a lunch break short.”

change agent presents check to sca recipient
Nate Maclure of Safeco Insurance, Kirsten McGarry of Sanford Backpack Program, and Nick Roux and Keith Lapointe of Garnsey Brothers Insurance celebrate their Safeco Change Agent Award.

Garnsey Brothers employees also assist with major fundraisers for the program, he added, and while much of the work is done on their own time, the company also encourages volunteering during business hours. “Our principals, John Roux and Jack Garnsey, are very generous. With a staff of only 12 employees, we manage to help a number of organizations in the Sanford area.”

Thanks to that commitment to community, Garnsey Brothers Insurance has been named a Safeco Change Agent, which means Safeco will donate $2,000 to the Sanford Backpack Program.

“We’re very grateful for the support of Keith and the Garnsey Brothers team,” Hanselmann said. “We have thousands of pounds of food to move every week, and our program simply wouldn’t reach as many children without their help.”

Serving those children is what makes the work truly rewarding, according to Lapointe. “The satisfaction of knowing they will be well-fed over the weekend makes it well worth our time,” he said.
Safeco Change Agent: Aaron Hoffman, Richards, Seeley & Schaefer, Inc., Westminster, Colorado
Nonprofit: Food Bank of the Rockies, Denver, Colorado

Three hours. That’s all it took for Aaron Hoffman and eight other employees of the Richards, Seeley & Schaefer insurance agency in Westminster, Colorado, to pack nearly 25,000 pounds of food for Food Bank of the Rockies.

“We were shocked when they told us how much food we pulled together for orders going to local food pantries,” Hoffman said. “It was a lot of fun.”

It was rewarding in other ways, too. Richards, Seeley & Schaefer has been named a Safeco Change Agent, which means Safeco will donate $2,000 to Food Bank of the Rockies.

The Denver organization works with more than 500 hunger-relief programs to distribute more than 131,000 meals each day in Colorado and Wyoming. With help from 23,000 volunteers, Food Bank of the Rockies also provides direct assistance through a mobile pantry, weekend food bags and other initiatives, said Janie Gianotsos, Director of Marketing and Community Relations.

“We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers,” she said. “They are amazing.”

Richards, Seeley & Schaefer staff at food bank
Staff from Richards, Seeley & Schaefer packed 25,000 pounds of food for the Food Bank of the Rockies.

Richards, Seeley & Schaefer made Food Bank of the Rockies the company’s “Charity of the Quarter” in late 2016. Employees volunteered, held an online food drive, and raised $700.

They also proved that even a few hours of service can have a big impact.

A great way to get involved is by scheduling volunteering events like any other appointment,” Hoffman said. “You just carve out three hours one afternoon, and even close the office early if everyone is participating. We’ve never received any negative feedback from clients about closing early to volunteer.”

And it’s a boost for employees as much as the charity, he added. “The time together out of the office definitely brings us closer together as a team. Serving in the community really is great for everyone.”
change agent badge
Every agent who submitted a photo to the contest earned a Safeco Change Agent digital badge, denoting their commitment to community.

We asked agents to submit photos of their #MyPassionProject for a food-focused nonprofit and the response was overwhelming! We chose 10 finalists to create a for a voting contest and while these two agents received the most likes and comments on their photos, we want to recognize all the agents who work to end hunger in their communities.

Thank you to each of these independent agents for being a Safeco Change Agent!