Blog: We're All Kids At Heart
My day started off with a coyote taking a bite out of our iHeart sign during a photo op, then I cozied up to an adorable service dog helping kids and military heroes with the special challenges they faced. I finally made my way to the community of Alexandria, in eastern Ontario. Along with John from our Brand Marketing department, we met with the broker advocate (Rory and co-worker Alex) and then drove to their recipient project site. After travelling across country roads (including some gravel) we eventually arrived at the playground in the small community of Dunvegan; rural Ontario at its best! Amongst beautiful farms, woodlots and picturesque pastoral landscapes, two roads cross and a village thrives.
We pulled up to the playground that was to be the recipient of iHeartCommunity funding. A young man and his son were playing on a swing set and we could see a small canopy set up with some refreshments. As we chatted, other folks arrived until a small group of locals surrounded us and shared the story of the Dunvegan Recreation Association and in particular, what happened with their only playground. Offering a central place for local children to play outdoors, the playground at the Dunvegan Park was declared unsafe by inspectors in 2016. The equipment at the park was over 50 years old and for safety reasons required replacing.
The community was able to raise some funds through pancake breakfasts but through the iHeartCommunity Fund, we were pleased to provide $8,000 toward new playground equipment. The response from the local residents we met that day was joyful and appreciative in the most genuine sense you can imagine. You could feel the strong community spirit that day as we conducted our ‘big cheque’ presentation with the Association members and our broker advocate.
I often get asked why this recipient and event resonated so much with me (I’ve told this story many times!). I’m sure it was mostly because the area around Dunvegan reminded me of where my family grew up in the Ayton and Clifford areas of southern Ontario. Also, being an insurance company executive I’m often focused on numbers and results, but my time in Dunvegan reminded me that as a Farm Mutual serving rural Ontario, our business is about people and community, which matter much more than just numbers.