Employees living Foresters Purpose in their communities

A man and a woman smiling while attending a volunteer event
A man and a woman smiling while attending a volunteer event

Last month, we spoke to a multi-generation Foresters family and learned about their volunteer history. In that inspiring story, we saw Foresters Purpose at work with our members. This month, we wanted to see how Foresters Purpose empowers two of our employees to help causes that matter to them in the communities they know and love.

Meet Todd Van Horne

Todd is the Manager for Vendor Management and Procurement. He has been with Foresters for over 20 years. When it comes to Foresters, for Todd, one of the best parts of being an employee here is the people and community.

“There’s truly a unique group of people here, and because of the foundation of this place, you can start to easily get involved. There’s an awareness here,” said Todd.

It’s that ability to get involved that goes beyond just employees. As Todd put it, “When you think of something like the Community Grants, I’m not aware of other organizations having programs their employees and members can utilize to aid and support their communities.”

Causes that mean the world to Todd

We next wanted to hear about the causes that Todd is passionate about and loves supporting. One was the Walk to Conquer Cancer. “I’ve been a part of the walk for six years now, primarily because, unfortunately, there isn’t anybody these days that isn’t impacted by cancer.”

Todd also spoke about supporting local grassroots organizations in his community. “I love supporting PFLAG, the Toronto chapter, which is the parents and friends of lesbians and gays.” Supporting smaller organizations like PFLAG has led Todd to join the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Council and become the Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ employee resource group at Foresters.

How Foresters helps Todd give back

For Todd, Foresters not only helps you support your favorite causes, but it can also introduce you to new ones. “Foresters has brought awareness to organizations I would have never known of. It’s also given me the confidence to go out into the community and work with Volunteer Toronto.”

Memorable volunteer events

Next, we wanted to hear about a memorable volunteer story Todd could share. “There was a charity golf event Foresters took part in that I was helping with. We donated boxes of food and $20,000 to help local charities. The director of one of the food bank charities we helped, received the donations and started crying. The $20,000 donation was actually half of her annual operating funds.”

Todd explained that this moment was one he’d never forget as it showed him the firsthand impact of volunteer work. “It’s a powerful thing, seeing that difference right in front of you.”

Meet Shelley Wilson

Shelley is the AVP of Legal Operations and Assistant Corporate Secretary. She has been with Foresters for 28 years. Throughout her time here, Shelley has always loved what she does and what Foresters stands for, saying, “I love what I do, but more importantly, I love the purpose here. I believe in Foresters Purpose.”

Shelley spoke about how her belief in community well-being and the opportunities to volunteer and lead give-back efforts kept her at Foresters. Standing for more in our communities and helping people out with Foresters behind her are difference-makers for Shelley and allowed her to better connect with many impactful causes.

Two causes close to Shelley

“Sick Kids has really been a cause that I’ve been involved with for a while.” Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto has been a big part of Shelley’s volunteering efforts. When she first started at Foresters, supporting Sick Kids was something she and her team looked forward to every year.

“Employees would be bused to the hospital, get on the phones for the Sick Kids Radiothon they had and help take donations, and hearing peoples’ stories…I don’t think any of us left with dry eyes,” said Shelley about those early years volunteering. She also would spend time with the children by playing bingo, painting faces and other fun games.

She also spoke about the Ronald McDonald House, “There were also some really great memories going there, you know, cooking for the families who were staying in the homes with their children going through treatment.”

How Foresters helps Shelley give back

Foresters has helped Shelley discover new opportunities to make a difference over the years and open doors to inspiring causes she didn’t know about previously. “I’ve just been fortunate to be not only an employee but an active member.”

But it goes beyond learning about new causes. Foresters has also helped Shelley connect with people at work and volunteer events, “There are so many opportunities to meet new people while doing some good,” she added.

Volunteer events to remember

“I think for me, the Sick Kids radiothons definitely keep coming to my mind. But also volunteering for the Children’s Miracle Network.” Shelley and her family got to go to Florida and volunteer with the Children’s Miracle Network. There, she saw children from different US states, facing different medical challenges, get to be kids again.

Having her family with her during this event made it all the more memorable for Shelley, “That’s the other thing about that event, it was so awesome to experience all that positive work with my family at my side.”

150 years of Foresters

After hitting such a huge milestone, we needed to know what these two longtime employees think has led us to be around for this long.

“It’s almost hard to articulate in a sense,” said Todd. “There’s something very unique about the landscape and the people here. It’s just that ongoing helpful community since the start and how that exploded over the years. It’s the legacy of who we are.”

Shelley echoed Todd’s feelings. “It’s because we do more. We’re not just financial services. We give back and help others do the same.” Reflecting on what brought her to Foresters, Shelley said, “You know, that’s why people want to work at Foresters, and maybe that’s why people want to do business with us, and that kind of puts us above the rest.”

Celebrate with us by making a BIG difference

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate 150 years of helping others than by giving back to charities. With the Foresters 150 BIG Give, you can help a charity you love get a $50,000 donation from Foresters!

All you need to do is tell us about a charity you care about, what it means to you and why you think it deserves our donation. Submit that all in a short video plea, and we may pick your charity. A $50,000 donation can make a BIG difference, and it could be because of you.

Head over to our 150 BIG Give page to learn more and get started!

423055 CAN/US (03/24)

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