By Gordon Williams
Many of us are familiar with the critical, life-saving work of the American Red Cross. We know that when their dedicated staff and volunteers arrive in their red vests, support is within reach and recovery doesn’t have to be done alone.
But how does the Red Cross create impact for those experiencing disaster and everything that comes along with it? One way is through donors, big and small, that help provide support the Red Cross needs to deliver its powerful mission. A key donor and partner is PEMCO Mutual Insurance.
PEMCO is a Northwest company that provides home, auto and renters insurance to Washington and Oregon residents. The company also contributes to and partners with like-minded organizations to make meaningful impact in the communities in which they serve.
PEMCO has a commitment to building safer, stronger, more resilient communities through an approach it calls “Mutual Good” — a reference to the company’s heritage and commitment to its member-owners. A commitment that the Red Cross has benefitted from for over forty years when PEMCO employees and PEMCO Foundation matched their donations to the Red Cross.
“We seek to partner with organizations that are mission- and values-aligned, and when it comes to our focus on safety, we know that Red Cross is the premier organization delivering that to our Northwest communities,” says Allison Leep, Social Impact Manager for PEMCO.
Megan Snow, a Red Cross Regional Philanthropy Officer, shares, “PEMCO has been a long-time supporter of the Red Cross, from funding vehicles to supporting our Home Fire campaign. They are consistently one of the first to activate employee and customer giving opportunities when major disasters hit.”
The donated vehicle Snow mentions is a pickup truck used for all lines of service, but primarily during disaster operations when the Red Cross team needs the towing capacity to move shelter trailers. In addition to donations, PEMCO employees also support the Red Cross through volunteerism.
Through Sound the Alarm, the activation arm of the Home Fire Campaign, employees install smoke alarms in vulnerable neighborhoods – as many as possible – in just a few weeks. The Home Fire campaign, launched in 2014, is a major Red Cross effort aimed at reducing death and loss from home fires by installing smoke alarms in homes that lack a working alarm.
It’s a preparedness effort that PEMCO’s Albery Lockhart, Claims Manager, is passionate about. “Installing the smoke alarms is a very rewarding experience, and one I like to involve my daughter in as well. It gives us the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way together and support a great organization.”
The Red Cross and PEMCO also partner in educating our youth. Thanks to mutual efforts in 2018 and 2019, nearly 1,400 elementary students in Seattle and Spokane learned how to stay safe during a disaster. Targeting our most at-risk students, Snow says the learning was fun and interactive: “Students were encouraged to share what they learned with their communities, which enabled this life-saving information to reach even more people.”
PEMCO volunteerism extends to board service with the Red Cross: Cynthia La Rowe, on the King County chapter board in Seattle; and Lockhart, on the Greater Inland Northwest chapter board in Spokane. Both bring valuable skills and knowledge while also learning from Red Cross themselves as they sharpen their knowledge around safety, relief and preparedness.
PEMCO appreciates the opportunities the Red Cross offers to support those in need – from local wildfires, to floods, to the recent Ukraine humanitarian crisis, amongst other emergencies. “Our employees want to support others during their greatest time of need,” Leep shares, “The Red Cross gives our employees the chance to do that through giving and volunteer initiatives.”
The next time you see volunteers reaching out for donation or combing the neighborhoods to install fire alarms, or a Red Cross/PEMCO vehicle on the road, you’ll know that there’s much more to this partnership – a shared commitment to helping our local communities thrive.
Take a look at all of our Northwest Region business partners and find out how your company can support the American Red Cross. Visit our website: redcross.org/northwest.