CHENANGO COUNTY — Over the past few weeks, 60 Preferred Mutual employees have been supporting local organizations as part of the GivingTuesday initiative.
GivingTuesday is a global network aiming to inspire and spread generosity around the world. GivingTuesday.org defines their mission as "local impact through networked leadership development in communities around the world; storytelling and strategic communication that uplifts the impacts of generosity; the deployment of human, financial, and social capital to and throughout the movement; and ultimately, the global ritualization of generosity, which has dramatically increased the rate at which people give and volunteer worldwide."
In support of that mission, Preferred Mutual employees spent 200 hours volunteering across Chenango County and in the surrounding areas, supporting the New Berlin Fire Department, the Cooperstown Food Pantry, the Unadilla Valley Food Pantry, Clear Path for Veterans, the Chenango SPCA, the Oneonta Food Pantry, North Country Humane Society, the Humane Society of Rome, Ilion Salvation Army, Zonta Club of Lockport NY, Panther Trax Snowmobile Club, Marcellus Youth Soccer, and the Susquehanna SPCA.
"We’re trying to make sure we create more structure so we can make it easier for employees to support the community with their colleagues, and that’s something we did for the first time over the last couple of weeks," said Preferred Mutual CEO Benedikt Sander.
He said although the company supports various organizations year-round, this year they decided to focus their efforts even more by participating in GivingTuesday. He said the initiative was very employee-driven as teams of employees were able to choose the organizations they wanted to support.
"We like to stay close to employees and we know that giving back to the community is important to many of them, and many support different institutions," said Sander. "We asked our management team to find out what is important to their team or to the folks that live near them, and then they figured out what causes they’re excited about."
A survey completed by employees earlier this year highlighted an interest in animal-related charities, which Sander said impacted the decision to volunteer at SPCAs and humane societies. Learning about specific needs in the communities where employees live also helped to narrow down organizations to support.
"The selection of which institutions we supported, that was done by folks who live in that community and know where the need is," said Sander.
"We did a food drive for the Unadilla Valley Food Pantry. We saw how empty their shelves were," he continued. "We started to do more as a result because clearly food security is a huge problem for some of the people in the community, and that’s something we felt we have to do more because you don’t want people to go hungry."
During their volunteer hours, employees did whatever they could to help, from serving food to stocking shelves, baking pies, and even helping the Zontac Club of Lockport NY with updating their website.
At Clear Path for Veterans, an organization based out of Chittenango, New York that aims to support veterans and their families, Preferred Mutual employees greeted veterans and served food in the canteen, Sander washed and dried dishes, and some volunteers baked pies to be sold at a fundraiser.
Volunteers walked dogs and cleaned at the Chenango SPCA, collected and delivered food donations for the Cooperstown Food Pantry, and donated pies for the New Berlin Fire Department's annual pie sale fundraiser.
"Wherever they needed help, we supported the organization that day ... Whatever it is, the need in the community, the passion of the employee, and in some cases just providing a physical support, like washing dishes for me. Another case people leveraged their skills," said Sander. "It’s been a lot of fun for all of us, I think, and very well received by the institutions we support."
Sander said Preferred Mutual plans to continue their support of Chenango County and the surrounding communities, and they intend to participate in GivingTuesday in future years.
"I think the need is there, the enthusiasm by the employees is there, so we absolutely intend to keep going," he said. "It’s just something that is important to us, something we have been doing and we're trying to add more structure to going forward. So we’re really excited to keep the momentum strong and make sure we continue to give back to the communities we live in."
Preferred Mutual Insurance Company provides property and casualty insurance coverage to more than 232,000 individual and business customers through a network of more than 560 independent agents located throughout New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Preferred Mutual is rated “A” by AM Best Company for 21 consecutive years and is headquartered in New Berlin, New York. For more information visit PreferredMutual.com.
For more information on GivingTuesday, visit GivingTuesday.org.