Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Michigan makes youth its mission

“It has been said, there never was a time when it was harder to be a child.” – author unknown

Corporate sponsors are often the lifeline of a non-profit organization, allowing them to continue their invaluable work, expand their range of services and enhance their sphere of impact. Corporate partners have the ability to bring a cadre of resources to the community table including expertise, capacity building and that all-important funding.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, which is widely respected in the non-profit space for its continuity of services throughout its 91-year history, is also remarkably adept at attracting forward-thinking philanthropist and enlightened corporate citizens to support the important work of providing a productive environment for the region’s youth, and facilitating development and cultural opportunities for its youthful participants. (Think Denzel Washington, Courtney B. Vance, Magic Johnson, Usher). The celebrated organization announced its partnership with Amerisure Insurance Companies, one of the nation’s leading providers of commercial insurance. The much-heralded alliance of commnity conscious enterprises was the source of big buzz in the world of business and community leaders dedicated to impacting the quality of life for youth in the metro-Detroit area.

“This [relationship] evolved with one of Amerisure’s executive management team members, Tom Hoeg, who joined our board in 1998. He was so excited to be involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs, he got the rest of the company involved and they have been sponsors of our programs and our events thanks in part to Tom’s enthusiasm,” explains Len Krichko, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan president and CEO.

“The support that Amerisure gives us as a company, as a foundation and through individual employees really helps support our programs, and that support directly impacts us financially which pays for programming, staffing, occupancy costs and pretty much everything we do to bring the children into academic success and good citizenry.”

Krichko noted that Amerisure was founded in Detroit in 1912 as Michigan Mutual.

Since 1926, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan has provided high quality programs for youth, ages 6-18 in grades 1 through 12. Since its founding, it has served over 300,000 youth, 90 percent who graduate high school with 95 percent of those graduates pursuing higher education. Key programs include mentoring, academic success, healthy lifestyles and character and leadership development.

But while philanthropy is a noble undertaking for building goodwill and demonstrating solid corporate citizenship, a company’s brand is paramount to its success. Consequently, it was imperative that Amerisure identify and align itself with a partner whose objectives and goals were a good fit with their own. Similarly, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan — with 10 locations in four counties, and serving 15,000 youth annually — is committed to maintaining its reputation for adhering to the organization’s stated mission: “To inspire and enable all youth to reach their full potential as educated, productive, responsible and caring citizens by providing enriching and challenging programs presented by caring and dedicated professionals.” Widely respected in the non-profit sector for its staying power, B&GCSM is noted for its reputation of steering clear of funding or financing which could dilute its message and programming objectives. In short, they won’t change course to chase dollars.

Although Greg Crabb, president and chief executive officer of Amerisure, is relatively new to the B&GCSM board, he enthusiastically embraces the principles of the organization and has committed time and money to bringing B&GCSM’s objectives to fruition. “At the highest level, we have a charitable foundation here in Michigan and our focus is on impacting the lives of the folks in the communities where we do business,” said Crabb. “There is no better example in our opinion than Boys & Girls Clubs and what they do to impact the lives of youth. The positive outcomes that Boys & Girls Clubs is able to demonstrate is very appealing and aligns perfectly with our charitable foundation’s mission.”

Crabb explained that Amerisure’s community commitment and organizational support initiatives are based on a core set of values, one of which is being an integral part of the community. Amerisure’s charitable foundation support includes a key caveat, for a non-profit organization to receive support they are required to engage and personally involve Amerisure employees. Amerisure’s other charitable activities include Junior Achievement, Special Olympics, COTS, Crossroads and Life Remodeled.

Jennifer DeMello-Johnson, Amerisure assistant vice president, is a B&GCSM board member as well as an active member of the B&GCSM Women’s Association. DeMello-Johnson, who along with her other organizational responsibilities, volunteers her time to conduct the Boys & Girls Clubs choir which she established for select events. A classically trained musician with a degree in choral conducting, she passionately encourages commercial clients to participate in charitable events through networking, face-to-face exposure and lending their talents to support B&GCSM activities and programs. “We host events in which all of our employees can get more involved in supporting Boys & Girls Clubs. One of those events is the Friendship Club Breakfast — held at the DAC — that we host every year. It not only gives all Amerisure employees an opportunity to get involved, it allows us to invite our local partner agencies to be a part of the experience as well,” she explained.

Gerald Chiddick, Amerisure’s vice president of marketing, has a dual role in the partnership between B&GCSM and Amerisure. In addition to helping drive charitable foundation programs and facilitating engagement for agency customer’s partners and employees, he and members of his team engage in the delivery of marketing support for recipient organizations. “We lend our talents as well as our resources to the activities of the organization,” said Chiddick. “We can provide marketing support to enable some of the things that they’re doing. We roll up our sleeves and get really involved in those activities with them. That’s part of our belief in the relationship and support for the overall organization and the value we hold them in. It’s an immersion experience,” he said.


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