Twelve-year Assurant employee and client relationship manager Mariana Roth loves to volunteer. In concert with the Brazil engagement champion team, she has worked to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other charitable organizations in her home city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Recently, she was involved in an ECT-sponsored effort to provide much-needed supplies to the Doctors Without Borders shelter in Sao Paulo as the physicians battled the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic among the homeless.
The ECT found a pressing need at a temporary Doctors Without Borders shelter giving aid to homeless people sick with COVID-19. “The shelter was asking for sanitary supplies, clothing — everything,” Mariana said. She planned the effort through the ECT and, together, they got started.
The Challenge of Isolation
“It was a group effort,” Mariana said. “Everyone on the ECT — Marisa Rodrigues, Jose Codesso, Cibelle Ribeiro, Roberta Fernandes, Laluxa Garcia and Patricia Habis — wanted to do something to assist in fighting the pandemic. But we needed to find a way to help without being physically present because we couldn’t be around people. We had never had to do that before,” Mariana said.
“It was our first time doing virtual fundraising, just by using our corporate tools, email and Whatsapp, so that was a challenge. And so was the pandemic economy,” Mariana said. “Many of our coworkers had partners losing their jobs, so it was harder for them to give.”
The Challenge of the Homeless
The target of the fundraising also created a challenge. Sao Paulo, the ninth largest city in the world by number of inhabitants, has a homeless population of approximately 15,000, so there’s a certain amount of charity fatigue when it comes to this group. But Mariana and the ECT stayed true to Assurant’s company culture, which includes helping everybody. “It might’ve been easier to raise money for animals or children,” said Mariana, “but we decided the city’s homeless people were the most in need, especially the sick at the shelter.”
Mariana didn’t set a financial goal for the campaign. “Even if just one person donated, that would be a success,” she said. But the donations surpassed expectations, amounting to 4,617 Brazilian reals (about US$823 at the time of writing). This was enough to purchase a sizable pallet-load of supplies, including 155 liters of alcohol gel, 300 liters of sanitizer, 50 blankets, 100 protection masks and much more. “It was unexpected for the campaign to be such a success,” said Mariana. “We were very happy.”
Pandemic Touches Hearts
The motivation for the unexpected generosity was the pandemic itself, Mariana thinks. “I believe that, when the pandemic started, many people started thinking more about each other,” she said. “It’s a challenge for people here to look at the homeless, but the pandemic opened people’s minds to the fact that homeless people have no medical support. They had their hearts touched by the pandemic.”
Two team members delivered the supplies to the shelter, where they were gladly received. The team took photos to show the donors the good they had done.
“I’m really proud to have gotten this amount of money for Doctors Without Borders,” Mariana said. “Sometimes, we’re selfish and we forget to help others. But, when we do, we forget our problems. It’s important to remember that other people have problems and that you can help them.”
Among the many ways we foster our culture of engagement is through our global engagement champion teams that focus on strengthening employees’ understanding of Assurant’s culture and business, emphasizing well-being resources and creating local community and charitable volunteerism opportunities.
So far in 2020, the Assurant Foundation has distributed more than US$3.5 million in grants to charitable organizations, often redirecting funds to support immediate community needs in the wake of the pandemic. This is in addition to about US$300,000 in special one-time grants to help in the frontline COVID-19 pandemic battle. Our 41 engagement champion teams continue to organize Acts of Gratitude in their hometowns to recognize the heroic efforts of first responders and essential workers.
Beyond our grant-making and volunteering, our Assurant Cares commitment comes to life through:
- Matching gifts of employee donations up to US$1,000 per year per employee to eligible charities
- Eight hours of paid time annually for employees to volunteer with organizations that matter to them personally
- Charitable payroll deduction opportunities to make giving convenient for Assurant employees
- Emergency disaster relief grants to help our employees in the wake of catastrophic events through our Assurant Cares Employee Support Fund, a separate charitable entity
To find out more about Assurant’s commitment to social responsibility, visit the Social Responsibility page on our website.