Helping communities cope during the coronavirus crisis
Leading with purpose is a big idea at Ameritas. It guided company leaders as they focused the firm’s philanthropy on helping communities cope with COVID-19. And it inspired them to get creative in allocating limited resources to seemingly unlimited need.
“We acted swiftly to identify ways Ameritas could support people who are struggling, said Liz Ring Carlson, 2nd vice president of corporate communications and community relations. “It was amazing to see associates bring ideas and teams come together to work out logistics.”
The company’s five largest locations (Lincoln and Wayne in Nebraska; Cincinnati, Ohio; San Antonio Texas; and Minnetonka, Minnesota) include members of its Community Involvement Council (CIC), a network of volunteers that leads Ameritas philanthropy at the local level. As the crisis worsened in mid-March, the CIC identified three groups particularly at risk in each community: young students, low-income families and nursing home residents.
Ameritas leaders started allocating money, goods and other resources for community relief. The community relations team engaged with nonprofit organizations to find the best solutions. And all with the added challenge of social distancing, sheltering in place and working from home.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my company, my colleagues and all our communities!” Ring Carlson said.
A recap of Ameritas COVID-19 community response
- The company joined 14 other strategic partners whose donations helped establish the Lincoln COVID-19 Response Fund in March. Hosted by the Lincoln Community Foundation, the fund is providing grants to nonprofit organizations serving communities impacted by the virus. The committee assessing applications and awarding grants includes former Ameritas CEO JoAnn Martin.
- A gift to the Lincoln Community Action Program is helping the agency transition its Head Start programs from distribution centers to at-home services.
- A gift to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lincoln is keeping young people connected with adult mentors by helping move these vital mentoring relationships online.
- A donation of 1,800+ N95 masks from our janitorial supply is helping four Lincoln hospitals keep their staffs safe. The masks went to Bryan Medical Center, CHI Health St. Elizabeth, Tabitha Health Care Services and Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital.
- A donation of 1,300+ re-usable drawstring bags helped Lincoln elementary school students safely take home Chromebook laptop computers and other materials as schools closed in March.
Using teamwork to tackle two other initiatives
Ameritas is working with Barnes & Noble, the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools, Tabitha Health Care Services of Lincoln, the Wayne (Nebraska) Food Pantry and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati on two other initiatives:
- Grab & Go Books will provide food items, educational materials, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes and toothpaste to more than 4,000 students from schools near Ameritas offices in Lincoln, Wayne and Cincinnati.
- You’re not alone is a social media campaign inviting people to submit notes of encouragement to senior citizens. Ameritas will print and deliver the notes along with activity books and hand sanitizers to about 2,000 residents in senior centers near Ameritas offices. Senior citizens are feeling isolated. Join the “You’re not alone” campaign to help senior citizens.
Individual associates are contributing in unique ways
Individual Ameritas associates and business units are making their own unique contributions. A few examples:
- Members of the company’s retirement plans division supported the Food Bank of Lincoln and Shared Harvest in Cincinnati.
- A group division office in Las Vegas redirected thousands of toothbrushes and toothpaste to charities. This division offers dental, vision and hearing insurance to employers who in turn offer them as employee benefits. The oral hygiene products had been earmarked as giveaway items at open-enrollment meetings.
- Several associates are helping people protect themselves by sewing or 3D-printing masks and giving them to friends, senior centers and hospitals.
Ring Carlson emphasized the company’s top priority continues to be the health, safety and well-being of its customers, associates and insurance, benefits and financial professionals. See Ameritas Responds to Coronavirus (COVID-19) for more information.