Desjardins invests in Canada with Better Things Community Grants programme

15 August 2018


A total of CAD 190,000 given to community initiatives nationwide

Earlier this month the Desjardins Group announced the winners of its Better Things Community Grants programme. Three large grants of between CAD 20,000 and CAD 50,000 and 17 community grants of CAD 5,000 will go to deserving initiatives in Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick.

Earlier this year, Desjardins asked its State Farm® branded agents to nominate local charities or government organisations that work to address safety issues, promote healthy lifestyles, improve financial well-being or support education and youth for consideration in the Better Things Community Grants programme. A total of 137 nominations were received with 20 chosen as grant recipients. 

As part of the ongoing State Farm Canada brand transition to Desjardins Insurance, Desjardins says that it and its exclusive agents are giving back to their communities, helping people in need and letting clients know that Desjardins Insurance will always be connected, committed and investing in where customers live, work and play. Desjardins Insurance is a member of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).

“Being involved in communities is part of who we are at Desjardins, and no one understands the needs of our customers better than our local Agents who work and live where their clients do,” says Barbara Bellissimo, Senior Vice President, Desjardins Agent Network. “The Better Things Community Grant programme is an opportunity for Desjardins Insurance Agents to connect with the issues that matter in their communities and to provide support to help these groups continue the great work they do every day.”

Three grants totalling CAD 105,000 were awarded to the following charities:

  • Pathstone Foundation (St. Catharines, ON) received a grant of CAD 50,000 towards the development of 10,000 square feet of greenspace for mental health patients. The Natural Playground and Healing Garden will be the first of its kind to be created at a children’s mental health agency.
  • Connect Society (Edmonton, AB) received a grant of CAD 35,000 to support their mission to help meet the needs of families affected by hearing loss, allowing them to fully participate and thrive in daily activities. Connect Society will be equipping a preschool in Edmonton with a sensory room to help young children impacted by deafness learn and grow.
  • P.R.O. Kids (Saint John, NB) received a grant of CAD 20,000 towards matching children and teens in financial need with organised, registered recreation activities. Positive Recreation Opportunities for Kids (P.R.O. Kids) provides youth with the ability to become involved in the sport, music, art or cultural programme of their choosing; regardless of financial barriers.

An additional 17 grants totalling CAD 85,000 (CAD 5,000 each) were awarded to the following:

•             Bellwood Public School (Whitby, ON)

•             Brockville and Area Food Bank (Brockville, ON)

•             Chatham-Kent Student Breakfast Programs (Chatham, ON)

•             Distress Centre Calgary (Calgary, AB)

•             Eden Food for Change (Mississauga, ON)

•             Essex County Community Living (Essex, ON)

•             Food4Kids (St. Catharines, ON)

•             Girls Inc. of Durham (Ajax, ON)

•             Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation (Toronto, ON)

•             Hong Fook Mental Health Association (Scarborough, ON)

•             Kimberly Jr. Public School (Toronto, ON)

•             Linking Generations (Sherwood, AB)

•             London Cross Cultural Learner Centre (London, ON)

•             Port Perry Hospital Foundation (Port Perry, ON)

•             Sir Edgar Bauer Catholic Elementary School (Waterloo, ON)

•             Sussex Vale Transition House (Sussex, NB)

•             The Carson Foundation (Palgrave, ON)

Beneficiaries of the grants were quoted as saying:

“It’s fantastic that Desjardins recognized Pathstone’s Natural Playground and Healing Garden, which will be the first of its kind in Canada, as a project they wanted to support. This will be a unique, innovative and transformative initiative for the Niagara community. Research has long supported that for young people dealing with mental health issues, time spent in a natural environment is calming, reduces feelings of stress, fear, anger and aggression and improves functionality, attention, focus and self-esteem.”

Shaun Baylis – CEO, Pathstone

“As a non-profit, Connect Society has financial limitations and must make difficult decisions about how to use the government funds we receive. It’s encouraging that corporations like Desjardins have a heightened sense of social responsibility, and are willing to champion the good work of charitable organizations to effect positive change. Not only has Desjardins validated our hard work, but their financial support will provide an environment that promotes learning for the children currently in our program and for future generations.”

Cheryl Redhead – CEO/Executive Director, Connect Society

“Working at an inner-city school in Saint John I have seen the challenges that youth are faced with every day. We are extremely happy that Desjardins recognizes PRO Kids as a catalyst of change for youth in our community. It provides children an enriching experience while helping to tackle barriers and allow them to break the cycle of poverty.”

Jen Brown – Vice Chair, P.R.O. Kids Advisory Committee

State Farm Canada is becoming Desjardins Insurance

In 2015, Desjardins Group completed the purchase of State Farm Canadian property and casualty and life insurance operations, as well as its mutual fund, loan and living benefits companies. More than 470 State Farm Agents in Canada are becoming Desjardins Insurance Agents. They continue to offer the strength of their relationships and serve their clients’ insurance and financial needs. The brand transition will be completed by December 31, 2019. Details here.

For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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