Over the last months, we learned to (quickly) shift our communities online — or create entirely new ones where there were none before.
If there are any silver linings to this pandemic, a strengthened sense of connection definitely tops the list. It’s no surprise that the professionals we serve — educators, first responders, nurses, and peace officers — have so often been the ones building community and connection.
Here’s a round-up of some heartwarming and creative ways they’ve brought us together while we’ve had to stay apart.
- Positivity parade. To cheer their students up, teachers across the nation have driven through their students’ neighborhoods in car parades, oftentimes in vehicles decorated with joyful signs, messages, and decorations.
- Teacher memes. Parents have certainly had a crash course in homeschooling — and their reflections (and teachers’ responses) have led to some brilliant memes.
- Keepin’ it real. This music teacher’s video went viral when she shared what it’s like switching to online teaching and learning.
- Mask project. Two former school administrators launched a mask-making project to support their communities’ frontline medical workers.
- Keeping kids fed. Educators across the country have made sure that no students go hungry during school closures.
- Dance as medicine. Lifting spirits while delivering excellent care, these nurses use dance to bring humor and positivity to their Covid-19 patients. Check out all five videos — we dare you to keep a dry eye!
- Stepping up, showing up. School nurses have been answering the need in communities everywhere, whether by administering tests at Covid-19 testing sites, doing wellness checks on hundreds of students, or rounding up donations and supplies for other frontline workers.
- Creative stress-busting. Nurses and doctors are using humor, dance moves, and creativity to stay sane, spread smiles, and promote safety.
- #904RainbowHunt. Trying to cultivate hope in an uncertain time, an ICU nurse created a (now burgeoning) Facebook group for people to create, share and hunt for rainbows in neighborhood windows.
- Storytime with peace officers. To comfort and connect with kids during stressful times, law enforcement officers nationwide have been reading to kids virtually.
- Cribs – firehouse edition. Firefighters give kids a personal virtual tour of their fire station — from the living quarters to the garage, fire engines and everything in between.
- Heroes cheering heroes. First responders cheer on frontline healthcare workers in New York and Pennsylvania with sirens, lights and applause.
- #HeartsforHealthcare. Firefighters and first responders are sharing the love — by parking their engines and cruisers in heart shapes — to show support for healthcare workers.
Times of crisis bring out both the worst and best in people. We’re ever grateful to our American Heroes for bringing their best to their communities and inspiring us all to find ways to connect to and support each other.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to education professionals, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.
Celebrating the great work that you do and giving to others are important aspects of the California Casualty culture. We believe in giving back through important community impact initiatives and charity that makes a real difference.
Garage Makeover winner Kyle A.
We’ve been thanking first responders over the years for the hard work they do protecting our communities, with the Work Hard/Play Hard Sweepstakes.
In December, Pennsylvania firefighter Kyle A. was the recipient of a $7,500 Garage Makeover from California Casualty. Kyle, who is also a full-time 911 dispatcher, was thrilled. “My wife and I bought our forever home last year and we just purchased a storage shed so that we could clean out the garage to make it more useful,” he said.
He added that while he doesn’t seek recognition for what he does, he is grateful that California Casualty recognizes the hard work done by first responders.
While we are talking about firefighters, California Casualty wants to congratulate San Bernardino County, California, Fire EMT Kyle A. (a different K.A.). He is the grand prize winner of the California State Firefighters’ Association’s photo contest, sponsored by California Casualty.
Kyle receiving his award from Field Marketing Manager, Charlene Rowens
The contest invited first responders to submit images highlighting the bravery and camaraderie of the men and women in the fire service and the explosive situations they encounter in their daily shifts. Kyle’s photo of Los Angeles firefighters battling a commercial auto parts blaze was a quarterly winner in the contest and will be featured on an upcoming cover of The California Fire Service magazine. Quarterly winners received cash prizes from California Casualty for their efforts.
You can see some of the amazing and outstanding pictures submitted to the CSFA/California Casualty photo contest here.
Knowing the challenges and expenses new teachers face when setting up their classrooms as full-time educators, California Casualty introduced a $500 New Teacher Shopping Spree for student members of the NEA.
Shopping Spree Winner Katherine (center) with California Casualty’s Gabby Sole (left) and KNEA representatives.
Ms. Kirchhoff, a KNEA member, applied for the award while she was a student teacher in Olathe. She was hired this year to teach 4th grade at Piper East Elementary School in Kansas City.
“I am so thankful for this giveaway from California Casualty,” she said. “Being a first-year teacher, I didn’t realize all of the things I would need, and this money is going to help me get supplies that I planned to purchase for my classroom and students.”
Ms. Kirchhoff will use the funds for essentials, such as Expo markers, pens, paper, and other materials that will benefit her students.
Kansas Service Center’s Salvation Army Family Donations
To brighten the holidays for others, employees at our Kansas and Colorado Springs service centers chose to make a difference for families in need.
The Kansas Service Center Employee Activities Committee (EAC) adopted a family of four through the local Salvation Army. They bought dozens of toys, piles of clothing and hundreds of dollars in grocery gift cards to provide a joyous holiday for the three children and one adult.
Colorado Service Center’s Silver Key Donations filling the bed of a truck.
The EAC in Colorado Springs asked employees to purchase high-protein, nonperishable foods and personal care items for Silver Key Senior Services, which gives assistance to the elderly, many of whom are shut-ins or have very little family support.
The donations helped stock the emergency food pantry, which gets depleted during the holidays. Our employees brought in enough food and care items to fill the bed and cab of an EAC member’s pickup truck.
TAKEAWAY: See the many ways that we say thanks to the men and women who make our communities better, by visiting the Community Impact page of our blog, https://mycalcas.com/community.
Working with you at schools, higher ed campuses, law enforcement offices, fire stations and hospitals provides us many opportunities to give back. Staff members at our Service Centers, Home Office and our Partner Relations team live in your communities, and we all pitch in to help with various fundraisers and recognition events.
We recently celebrated the extraordinary care that nurses give to others with $1,000 Nurse’s Night Out awards that went to Ohio RN Marie C. and Oregon RN Dina D. Both are members of their respective nurses associations. With holiday shopping and travel, both nurses said the money comes at a great time.
Marie (second from left) receiving her Nurse’s Night Out award
Dina (center) receiving her Nurse’s Night Out award
Our Illinois Field Marketing Manager, Katie Dunn, was given a great honor this fall by the Illinois Firefighters Association. As a token of appreciation for all the dedication she has shown to IFA and their members’ safety, they presented Katie with a white helmet naming her an honorary fire chief of the IFA. “Katie is always there to support the IFA in its efforts to make the fire service better for the men and women who wear the uniform,” remarked Terry Ford, VP of the IFA. “Her tireless energy, dedication and willingness to help with IFA programs and events demonstrate her caring for our members.”
Alina with Louis Manzione, President of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey
Another prestigious honor was given to Accounts Relations Manager Alina Fayerman. Alina works incredibly hard for the New Jersey groups that California Casualty serves and was named this fall to the Board of Trustees of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey. Alina, who received a scholarship from the fund when she attended Drew University, will actively give back by helping with marketing expertise and support for the state’s independent colleges and universities.
California Casualty employees also participated in charity events, giving back to their communities. One was the very moving “Out of the Darkness” walk to prevent suicide. California Casualty Senior Field Marketing Manager, Sherry Hanacek, joined hundreds of people on a drizzly, cold September morning. She was supporting past president of the Oregon Volunteer Firefighters Association Dave Butler and his wife, Anita, who suffered the loss of their son. Dave organized the walk, which raised more than $20,000 for the cause.
At our Colorado Springs Service Center, the November fundraiser was for Silver Key Senior Services. Every day can be difficult for elderly shut-ins, but the holidays can be especially tough. Hundreds of pounds of food, kitchen necessities, and personal care items (enough to fill a pickup truck) were collected and donated to help seniors in need. The donations will supplement Silver Key’s food pantry and home-delivered meals program.
And through our many visits to schools across the nation, we created a new Music and Arts Grant program to aid creativity in schools, such as choir, band, dance, film, theater, computer arts and graphics, or any K-12 curriculum that employs art for learning. After we reviewed nearly a thousand applications, 139 public schools in 31 states received a total of $34,000 to help provide music, instruments, and art and performance necessities. Some of those included:
- Purchasing special adaptive instruments for the Special Education Center at Mark Twain School in Garden Grove, CA, that serves special needs and medically fragile students
- Supplying watercolor sets for third-grade students at Homer Davis Elementary School in Tucson, AZ
- Reestablishing the art program to third graders at Arcadia Elementary School in Deer Park, WA
- Providing adaptive instruments and technology to expand the music therapy program for students at the ACES Village School in North Haven, CT
- Buying an additional camera to allow more students to participate in the photography program at Filer High School in Filer, ID
The entire list of Music and Arts grantees can be found at www.calcas.com/-/2019-music-and-arts-grant-recipients.
Public K-12 schools needing funding for an arts or performance program can apply for the 2020 Music and Arts Grant from California Casualty at www.calcasmusicartsgrant.com.
TAKEAWAY: Follow the many ways California Casualty celebrates all that you do at our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CaliforniaCasualty.
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“California Casualty really cares about me and understands me,” said Windsor, California high school teacher Renee DuVander.
Renee wrote a glowing review of California Casualty on Facebook after the Kincade fire forced her to evacuate in October.
“Attention Teachers: California Casualty is amazing insurance…I reached out to my renter’s insurance (calcas.com) and asked about being reimbursed for my evacuation expenses. They covered everything! From fuel and food to socks and underwear (we didn’t pack enough). I started the claim on Wednesday and the money is in the bank today (Friday). The company takes care of teachers and I strongly encourage you to get a quote from them ASAP.”
Renee learned about California Casualty about 10 years ago when one of the company’s Field Marketing Managers made a school visit. At the time, Renee was struggling with the high cost of insuring her car.
“The California Casualty representative said ‘let me work out some numbers and see if it’s worth switching.’ When she was done, she cut my auto insurance in half. Ever since then, I have been California Casualty’s biggest fan. I want to share the great customer service and benefits with as many teachers as I can,” she added.
The claims help and guidance she received from California Casualty during her forced exodus cemented her positive feelings. “The claims representative, Ashley, was so nice and thorough. She talked me through everything and even coached me on how to submit my expenses and receipts. The electronic funds transfer was so fast, just two days, and that really relieved the stress of how was I going to pay for all of my evacuation costs.”
Renee’s message to other educators is that California Casualty is a company that treats each person as an individual, understands educators, and delivers on its promise to protect them.
“I knew California Casualty would take care of me, and they did. I want all of my teacher friends to enjoy the same customer service and benefits that I do, and that’s why I am spreading the word,” she said.
California Casualty has been a partner with CTA since 1951, providing auto and home/renters insurance to educators with special benefits tailored to the teaching profession. Learn more about this valuable CTA member benefit, and what California Casualty might do for you, at www.CTAMemberBenefits.org/calcas, or visit www.calcas.com/CTA.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.
Working alongside you is extremely rewarding for all of us here at California Casualty. Given the chance, we are thrilled to tout the benefits of membership to your organizations, donate to your schools, surprise you with our giving program awards, and take part in ceremonies recognizing all that you do.
Partner Relations members Lisa Almeida, Jana Charles, Inez Morales, Norma Alfaro and Christy Forward at CTA Presidents Conference
The Partner Relations California team members had the opportunity to connect with CTA presidents and greet longtime friends as they attended and hosted events for the CTA Presidents Conference. In support of our partnership with CTA, it was the team’s goal to make a difference for CTA leaders and promote the value CTA membership provides.
“It’s an honor for us to be able to celebrate and recognize the incredible dedication our chapter leaders give to their association members,” said California Casualty AVP Lisa Almeida.
Attendees received fun giveaways, with one lucky participant winning a VIP trip to a San Francisco Giants baseball game and another winning two 3-day passes to Disneyland.
California Casualty’s Partner Relations members Jeff Meyers and Roxanne Dean had an exciting opportunity to share the Outward Mindset program – one of our company’s newest initiatives to improve communication with fellow employees and our customers – with the Member Services Staff of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).
Introduced by a member of the California Casualty Advisory Board, Outward Mindset training is presented to all employees in our company, from Executives to Sales, Service, Underwriting and Claims. The premise is that by getting past “out of the box” thinking, we can better serve our customers while enhancing working relationships throughout all levels of our company.
ACSA Member Benefits consultants were interested in learning how California Casualty uses the program to improve our effectiveness with partners, such as ACSA.
“From the first time I went through this workshop, I fell in love with the fundamental principles involved,” said Jeff. These principles are powerful for our work, and helping the groups that we work with.”
California Casualty has been a longtime partner with ACSA, providing the auto and home insurance program as well as engagement tools to encourage membership. “Thank you for sharing the importance of an outward mindset to engage members,” an ACSA member wrote.
School Lounge Makeover winner Mary (second from left) with California Casualty’s Stephanie Whitmore and NSEA representatives
To round out our educator community efforts in this issue of Connection, let us introduce you to our latest School Lounge Makeover winner. Mary G., an English teacher and the librarian at Palmer Public School in Palmer, Nebraska, was thrilled that the staff will finally have a place to relax and rejuvenate throughout the school day. We will highlight the revitalized lounge (which is being designed now) in the next edition of Connection.
And, 18 years after the terrible 9/11 attacks, California Casualty joined educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs and the general public at 11 memorial stair climbs, remembering those who died while saving others. From Maryland to Missouri and Colorado to California, our employees climbed and supported other climbers with water, snacks, and encouragement. In partnership with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, California Casualty is a proud sponsor of the climbs and donates to the NFFF survivor’s fund.
“This experience was emotional and moving,” said Field Marketing Manager Katelyn Kassel. “The time and effort put into coordinating the events and getting all of the firefighters to come out is a true testament to how much these men and women love what they do. I love our company and what we stand for, and how we are able to protect our first responders,” she added.
Left: Sandra Clemmons-Butler and Jackie Jones at the National Capital Region 9/11 Climb, Washington, D.C.; Right: Debbie Harris and Lorelei Seip at the Yellow Springs, OH 9/11 Stair Climb; Bottom: the California Casualty 9/11 Stair Climb team at Red Rocks, CO.
You can see an inspirational video of our participation at the Red Rocks, Colorado stair climb at our LinkedIn page.
TAKEAWAY: Follow the many ways California Casualty celebrates all that you do at our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CaliforniaCasualty.
High Marks From Educators
The National Education Association Representative Assembly is an exciting and important gathering for the country’s educators. Every year, delegates from districts and states meet to share stories, learn new ideas, and set the agenda for tackling issues impacting public education. California Casualty continued our tradition of joining NEA Member Benefits to attend the conference and share the value of NEA membership.
This year’s RA was extra special. Not only were we able to connect with delegates from around the country, but the Member Benefits area was within earshot of the actual assembly. Brian Goodman, California Casualty AVP of Field Relations, was impressed as he witnessed the incredible dedication and energy of getting the NEA business done. “I was humbled and awed by all the organization and passion that went into the Assembly,” he said.
We work hard to honor your dedication to the teaching profession and your commitment to students and the community. It was gratifying for the California Casualty Partner Relations team to get a chance to greet many attendees who stopped by to say hello and spend time with the people they consider friends and cohorts. “We get members who have such an affinity for their local Field Marketing Manager that they want to say hello and share how close they feel with the Field team member they work with. These relationships are very real, and the delegates want us to know how proud they are of that partnership,” noted Brian.
An example of that appreciation comes from Ohio Education Association Regional Director Cristina Munoz-Nedrow, who shared how much she loves working with California Casualty’s Ohio Field Marketing Manager, Sharlie Trentman. “Sharlie has done an amazing job of building relationships with my staff in the field to promote the benefits of California Casualty. Just as important, she has built relationships with the local leaders and members in my region. I am always amazed at the number of members she knows and those who know her when I am at an event with Sharlie. She is a great ambassador for California Casualty and is always poised, professional and knowledgeable when attending local, regional or state level OEA events. I look forward to working with Sharlie for years to come, and want you to know that I so appreciate the work she does.”
Brian added that other NEA regional delegates dropped by to let us know how happy they are with California Casualty and all the company does for them. “They are very proud of the decision to be insured with California Casualty and want to say thanks.”
The working relationship between California Casualty and NEA Member Benefits pays dividends, especially for growing NEA membership. “Our Field team works as ambassadors for NEA Member Benefits, promoting the value and power of the organization. This partnership is strong, built on trust, respect, and a long history of providing exceptional insurance for educators,” Brian said.
Taking A Ride With First Responders
It’s not often the general public gets to experience the reality of being a firefighter or test out some of their tools. That’s why our New Jersey Account Relations Manager, Alina Fayerman, considers herself fortunate after spending an afternoon with the Wyckoff Fire Department. Alina always appreciates the opportunity to meet with the men and women who wear a uniform, but this visit was special. Bergen County’s new Fire Coordinator, Joseph Alvarez, invited Alina take a test ride in the department’s recently updated bucket ladder. Alina said it was a thrill to experience such an important piece of equipment for fighting fires and rescuing people. Alina also got to show off her special fire chief helmet.
We love hearing your California Casualty stories. Share them at our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CaliforniaCasualty, or tell your colleagues and family about our exceptional service and have them visit www.calcas.com to learn more about what we do and how we serve you.