Giving back to the communities where we live and work is part of who Securian Financial is as a company. Our employees, retirees and board members are at the heart of our culture of giving, and they are empowered to support causes they care about.
Kate Mayer, Community Relations Consultant at Securian Financial, has made giving back to her community a personal priority through her support of Open Arms of Minnesota. The Securian Financial Foundation is also a supporter of Open Arms, contributing $500,000 to its capital campaign for their new St. Paul location, as well as providing ongoing financial support. Securian Financial associates are teaming up to volunteer with Open Arms on a monthly basis.
We’re excited to share a conversation with Kate as she brings to life the significant ways she, Securian Financial and Open Arms have built a multi-faceted allyship.
Can you tell us a little about Open Arms?
Open Arms of Minnesota is a nonprofit organization located in both Minneapolis and St. Paul that provides nutritious and delicious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses. Meals are delivered straight to the client’s homes, and their caregivers can also receive meals, which are all free of charge. One of my favorite things about Open Arms is that they put an extra touch of care on everything they do. For example, each client receives a baked from scratch cake the week of their birthday.
What led you to get involved with Open Arms?
I first learned about Open Arms while volunteering with a community group and began volunteering on a regular basis in 2019. When COVID restrictions went into effect in 2020, I was there every week! Open Arms did not stop its service during the pandemic; in fact, it grew by leaps and bounds. Volunteers were needed more than ever, and I needed an outlet. It was just me and my dog, living and working from home. A regular volunteer shift was a great way for me to safely socialize during the height of the pandemic.
As luck would have it, they were planning a second kitchen location in St. Paul and the Securian Financial Foundation began learning of their work and became a ally. So not only was I involved personally, but I was also a liaison to Securian’s community relations and foundation team.
My volunteerism has grown. I continue to serve as a delivery driver and as a kitchen helper, and I’ve extended my involvement to be on their board of directors now for three years.
What do you find appealing about what they do in our community?
While Open Arms is focused on delivering medically tailored meals (#foodismedicine), they also have a strong drive and mission to create community between their funding partners, volunteers, clients and staff. I appreciate not only their mission and what they deliver to their clients, but that it's wrapped into who they are as an organization. They want everyone involved to feel a part of an inclusive, joyful community through their involvement with Open Arms.
As a board member, what are your responsibilities?
I attend eight to nine board meetings a year, working with Open Arms' executive director to develop strategy and offer consultation. My role includes being an advocate for the organization, staying informed of its needs, attending fundraising and recognition events, and contributing my personal time and treasure. I’ve also been a part of their St. Paul location committee, raising awareness of their new St. Paul kitchen to other corporate allies, with church organizations and with my neighbors (since I live in St. Paul). I serve as a liaison between Open Arms and Securian Financial as we work together through employee volunteerism and grant funding. It’s been a great opportunity to utilize my existing skillset, develop new skills along the way, and learn about the community where I live and work.
How did you know that board membership was the right step for you?
I was looking for a way to go deeper, to move from transactional volunteering, to having more of a transformative role in an organization.
I still enjoy delivering meals, where I can interact with clients and volunteering in the kitchen, and connect with staff and fellow volunteers. Those experiences influence my work on the board, ensuring I represent the voices of everyone involved.
What personal or professional skill sets are you using — or further developing — while serving as a board member? Did you gain any unexpected skills?
The skill set I use most is connecting people through relationship building. It’s helped as I’ve reached out to other corporate groups in St. Paul, spreading the Open Arms message and mission to get more people involved.
A skill set I continue to develop is reviewing the organization’s financial records. It’s given me room to grow, ask questions, and to listen and learn about this crucial piece of an organization’s success.
What advice do you give to others who are interested in getting active with a nonprofit organization? What are important things to keep in mind?
I encourage everyone to get involved in their community and find a way that matches their passions, their skill sets or maybe just their curiosity. It’s a wonderful way not only to give back, but to learn about your community and the needs of your neighbors that may be different from your own.
It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Whether you give 30 minutes or two hours or 300 hours a year, it will make a difference to both the nonprofit organization and the clients they serve.