Canadian Underwriter

Centre Stage Activism

June 6, 2013  

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Aspiring young singers, dancers, actors, musicians and artists are literally in the spotlight now at G.S. Lakie Middle School in Lethbridge, Alberta, thanks to Hunt Insurance Agencies’ sponsorship and support during the Aviva Community Fund competition. The school has used the $75,000 in prize money to purchase and install theatrical lighting for the new technical booth in the school’s convertible theatre.

The upgraded electrical wiring, dimmer panel and lighting devices complete the final step towards the school’s dream of providing a venue for year-round performing arts camps, workshops and festivals for all ages in southern Alberta. Located in the large, multi-use foyer, the concert space is also used for athletic training, classes and meetings. As well, a dance studio, guitar studio, drama room with stage, recording studio, music room, art room and woodworking shop for set construction are nearby.

“We love the arts, and we love that kids are involved in these positive activities both during and after school,” says Ken Dueck, co-owner of the third-generation family brokerage with his wife Bobbi. “Our community is very much into extracurricular arts, including the University of Lethbridge’s theatre, dramatic arts, fine arts and music programs.

“I think it’s fabulous to get kids hooked and excited at a young age,” he continues. “It boosts their self esteem and gives them a great place to hang out and have fun.”

Given that Hunt Insurance’s business motto is “People Helping People,” Dueck says all 13 employees are encouraged to get involved in the community in whatever way “turns their crank.” The local swim club, annual MS Walk, Walk for the Cure, the University fine arts program and local sports teams are just some of the organizations that benefit from the brokerage’s generosity.

Commercial producer Paul VanderHooft puts some of his time into a Lethbridge business breakfast club for both networking and charitable work. As it turns out, that’s where he first heard about the G.S. Lakie project.

“Ken and I were looking at the Aviva Community Fund website to see if there were any interesting groups Hunt Insurance would like to support with our votes,” explains VanderHooft. “I spotted the G.S. Lakie Convertible Theatre/Summer Arts Institute project and remembered they made a presentation to my breakfast group a while ago. Apparently, when they made their submission to Aviva’s online contest, they didn’t know about the advantage of getting broker sponsorship.”

Enter stage right: Hunt Insurance.

With several clients working at the school and children of both clients and employees attending, it was simple for Paul to make the connection and begin helping the school increase voter turn out. By sending out daily reminders via email and on Hunt Insurance’s Facebook page, voting expanded beyond immediate family, friends and business associates. Votes reached critical mass and the good deed was done. G.S. Lakie won $75,000 of $1 million in funding that the annual Aviva Community Fund campaign contributes to organizations across Canada.

With previous grants, the school had purchased portable elements such as stage decking, risers, sound equipment and draperies. True to the school’s commitment, the new technical booth and lighting equipment were operational and ready for the first official curtain call on October 16, 2012. To the delight of students, staff, and Hunt Insurance and Aviva representatives, CTV’s Canada AM hosted a live broadcast that featured performances by talented local rock musicians, concert bands, dance troupes and cheerleading squads.

“It’s a fair comment to say our initial involvement was to support a worthy community project, rather than get recognition for our efforts from our clients,” notes VanderHooft. “That’s what’s going to continue to drive the sacrifice of time  necessary in any fundraising project.”


Copyright 2013 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the February 2013 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.