Canadian Underwriter

Surviving on the Water

June 6, 2013  

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Community: it’s a word that’s near and dear to the P&C insurance industry. At this time of year especially, many businesses begin the process of organizing volunteer projects or new ways to help out. With the recent launch of the Aviva Community Fund, Canada’s longest running online community competition, making a difference is just a click away for those looking to support ideas for positive change.

Getting behind one such idea was easy for Ottawa-based Mantha Insurance Brokers. President Paul Mantha says supporting The Cascades Club, a Quebec-based waterfront sports club, was a great experience for his entire team. “We really got involved and supported some amazing ideas,” said Mantha. “But The Cascades Club resonated with us the most. We voted for it every day during the competition and were so excited to see it win a share of the Aviva Community Fund.”

For the past 92 years, The Cascades Club has been operating summer camps and a variety of swimming and boating programs in Chelsea, Que. With a population of just 6,500, this community was the smallest to enter the 2011 Aviva Community Fund competition. But it proved that you’re never too small to dream big, generating enough online votes to become a finalist. It ultimately won $90,000 to fulfill its dream of leasing its waterfront property for the next 52 years and building a much-needed equipment shelter.

“We’ve been renting our space on the Gatineau River on a year-to-year basis and each year [we] hoped the landlord would extend our lease for another year,” says Cascades Club spokesperson Monica Dashwood. “As our program grew, we realized this wasn’t a sustainable way of operating.”

Preparing its idea mobilized The Cascades Club, which boasts 800 members and touches hundreds more through outreach programs. It provides coaches and dragon boats for crews of breast cancer survivors and hosts teambuilding events for area schools, as well as paddling opportunities for Inuit youth. The club also offers a popular summer day camp and a sprint canoe/kayak program, with lessons and coaching for children, teens and adults.

The club went social on Facebook and Twitter to generate votes and also reached out to paddling organizations across Canada. “It’s inspiring and energizing to volunteer in your community and to see that you’re inspiring others makes it even more worthwhile,” Dashwood says of the many inquiries Cascades has received from other paddling clubs.

Organizations are invited to submit ideas that would have a positive impact on their communities, and ideas with the most votes earn a chance to win a portion of the $1,000,000 Aviva Community Fund. A special category of funding is available to ideas supported by insurance brokers. The $150,000 broker grand prize is just another reason brokers should get involved with an idea.  This year, Canadian Insurance Top Broker is the exclusive media sponsor of the broker grand prize. Editor-in-chief Daryl Angier will participate in the judging process and help choose the winning broker-supported idea.

Thanks to the support of Mantha Insurance and other local brokers such as AGR Insurance Brokers in Gatineau, Que., and Courtiers Unis Michel Bertrand & Associés in Quebec City, Cascades can finally develop long-term plans to promote active lifestyles. “We’re the second largest employer of youth in the summer in this area and help them develop leadership skills as camp counsellors or coaches,” says commodore Andy Moore.

The Aviva Community Fund, now in its fourth year, offers tremendous opportunity for insurance brokers to get involved. “Each year we see so many amazing and inspiring ideas enter the competition,” says Gerry De Lauro, vice president of marketing for Aviva Canada. “The Aviva Community Fund opens up new ways for brokers to not only reinforce their community involvement, but also make new connections and promote their business.”


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

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.