The Woodmen name has graced a downtown Omaha skyscraper for nearly 50 years, but the organization behind it, WoodmenLife, also stands tall with nearly $11 billion in assets, $38.5 billion of life insurance in force, and an A-plus/superior rating by the independent agency A.M. Best. Since its 19th-century beginnings, WoodmenLife has also built a towering history of philanthropy and service to the community.
“WoodmenLife was founded in 1890 to provide financial security for families while making a difference in their community. As a not-for-profit fraternal organization, we’re able to offer competitive life insurance and cash-accumulating products,” President and CEO Pat Dees says. “When I say, ‘fraternal,’ it’s a not-so-common word, but it’s a description of our business model. My modern definition of ‘fraternal’ is ‘to find an unmet need in the community and purpose yourself to find a way to meet it.’ That’s the guidance that we give our individual local chapters throughout the U.S.”
Brook Bench is director of City of Omaha Parks, Recreation, and Public Property, which has benefitted from Woodmen’s beneficence through the donation of American flags. Woodmen has donated more than 3 million American flags to parks, schools, churches, and other civic organizations.
“WoodmenLife’s American flag donations have enhanced our parks for years. We are so fortunate to have brand-new American flags we can display in our parks to honor veterans and show patriotism towards our country,” Bench says.
Although the range of activities is too extensive to enumerate, Dees says WoodmenLife focuses its support in three primary areas: family, community, and patriotic endeavors.
One example of supporting family is the WoodmenLife Focus Forward Scholarship program for WoodmenLife members and families. Applicants who meet basic eligibility criteria are considered for awards based on factors including volunteer activity, work history, career goals, and patriotism.
“We created this two years ago to support their futures and a chance to get ahead,” he says. “This is one of the unique benefits of being a member of WoodmenLife that extends to families.”
One community-oriented activity specific to Omaha was providing funding to the Omaha Police Department Mounted Patrol.
“WoodmenLife has generously donated funding to be used towards the purchase of new horses for the Omaha Police Mounted Patrol Unit,” says Sgt. Joseph Svacina of the OPD Mounted Patrol. “Several horses have been retired, creating a need for quality replacements. The Omaha Police Department welcomes and appreciates this relationship and financial support from our partners at WoodmenLife. This level of corporate support is invaluable in our growing city, particularly our evolving downtown riverfront area and entertainment district. We look forward to growing this relationship, as well as maintaining a highly professional mounted patrol unit.”
“We adopted a focus on a national scale to fight hunger,” he says. “One of the more powerful things we can offer is, that, because we have nearly 700,000 members throughout the country, we mobilize them for volunteer efforts in local food pantries, or to raise funds, or to have canned food drives to support food pantries. In just the last few years [since 2015] we have collected 627,337 pounds of food and donated $1,117,120 for community food banks.”
Even after more than a century of giving, the people of WoodmenLife continue to look for ways of serving others, Dees says. Because like a tall building, WoodmenLife was built on a strong foundation—of giving, Dees says.
“There are so many ways we connect with the community. It’s part of our founding principles,” he says. “It is who we are.”
Visit woodmenlife.org for more information.
This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.