Canadian Underwriter

School Works

June 6, 2013  

Print this page

In September 2011, Lincoln Centennial Public School in St. Catharines, Ont., was seeking help to win the Aviva Community Fund competition and rebuild a much-needed playground with $40,000 in funding.

“Our response was an easy ‘Yes!’ for two reasons,” says David Sheehan, a partner with his brother Gordon in Sheehan & Rosie Ltd., the brokerage that his great uncle established in 1930. “First, when the Aviva Community Fund was initially launched in 2009, we helped the Boy Scouts of Canada win $60,000 for their ‘No Child Left Behind’ program. Four years later, Aviva’s online grant competition is still inviting Canadians to submit and vote on ideas for making positive changes in our communities. That suits our philosophy to not just throw money at a cause, but to invest both time and money where it’s really needed.

“Second, Lincoln Centennial is more than just a culturally diverse, inner-city school that needed new playground equipment,” he continues. “It’s the hub of the community; a learning centre and meeting place for everyone.”

In fact, the school is also home to an English-as-a-second-language program for new Canadian families, a literacy centre, a childcare centre, and groups such as the Red Roof Respite Program for children with special needs, and the John Howard Society’s Step-Up program. With little green space in the area and the closest playground more than two kilometres away, the school’s playground is needed by the entire community.

After taking the initial call from Lincoln Centennial, Sheehan & Rosie’s general manager Colin Krueger got right to work helping the school prepare and enter their idea, “Give Our Lions a Place to Roar with Pride.” From there, broker Gema Kramer took the lead in the office by encouraging all 25 employees to support the online voting process every day and spread the word to family and friends. An office member also attended each of the contest-related events. At the same time, the school’s staff, students and families worked hard to generate online votes through other local businesses, high schools, and Rotary and Optimist Clubs.

“I grew up in the area, so it was exciting to see how the Aviva competition brought the whole community together and taught the kids first-hand lessons about the benefits of helping others,” Kramer says. Indeed, she soon became an early-morning volunteer at the Rotary Club’s breakfast club in the school’s gymnasium every Tuesday.

On one such Tuesday this past January, CTV’s Canada AM hosted a live broadcast and announced Lincoln Centennial as one of 12 winners of the Aviva Community Fund contest for 2011. In addition, every Facebook “like” for this winning idea earned a $1 donation from Aviva for a grand total of $3,000 going toward Free the Children, supporting at-risk youth programs in Canada.

With the playground equipment purchased, installed and in use every day since June, Sheehan & Rosie’s team has begun helping another organization in their community develop a winning idea and voting campaign for this year’s Aviva Community Fund. Of course, those efforts are in addition to the brokerage’s long list of sponsorships and donations that include: minor and junior sports teams, Gillian’s Place women’s shelter, AIDS Niagara, Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre, Canadian Mental Health Association, a new regional hospital, Hospice Niagara, the Seymour-Hannah Sportsplex, and the United Way (a Platinum and Gold contributor for more than 15 consecutive years).

“As insurance brokers and local businesses, we have a moral obligation to help our communities all year round, not just in times of disasters and claims,” says Sheehan. “Great things happen when everyone works together, so I challenge brokers in every community to participate.”


Copyright 2012 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the December 2012 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.