Safeco Insurance awarded Whitehaven Insurance Services of Gulf Shores a $5,000 Make More Happen Award to further along Whitehaven’s commitment to improving their local community through volunteer work with Camp Seale Harris, a camp where hundreds of youths with diabetes gather together each year for a summer camp experience. Camp Seale Harris’ mission is to educate, encourage, and empower children with diabetes and their families to live well.
The award includes a $5,000 donation will assist with funds to send children to the camp. In addition, Whitehaven received an additional $5,000 for Camp Seale Harris by garnering more than 250 likes, comments or shares on social media from June 26-July 2, bringing their total donation to $10,000.
Whitehaven Insurance’s Dora Hartsock has led the company’s work with Camp Seale Harris in a ver personal way.
In 1997, Hartsock’s daughter suddenly fell ill—at the doctor’s office, her blood sugar was so high it didn’t register on the meter, and she was airlifted to the nearest major hospital.
Shortly thereafter, 8-year-old Bridgette tragically passed away from complications of diabetes. She had never been diagnosed with the disease.
“I needed to do something,” Hartsock said. “So I called the local office of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and asked how I could get involved. I helped with fundraisers and talked about my experience. And then I met someone from Camp Seale Harris.”
The Birmingham organization, founded in 1949, is far more than a camp—although it does host overnight week-long sessions, day camps, and family weekends at sites throughout the state. Each year, 650 kids with diabetes and their families, about 2,000 people in total, participate in camps, support groups and community diabetes walks.
“Camp Seale Harris is not just a place on a map,” explained Rhonda McDavid, executive director. “It’s a year-round shared experience and community.”
Hartsock is not just a supporter, either. A personal lines account manager for Whitehaven, she has volunteered for 20 years at various camps; every year she is at the seven-day Coastal Camp, assists with Family Camp Weekend, and plans the activities (including camp favorite “Dancing with Dora,”). She’s also a member of the Camp Seale Harris Board of Directors. Children and adults alike love Dancing with Dora at Camp Seale Harris!
It’s vital work. In Alabama alone, more than 3,000 children live with the disease. And it’s not uncommon for victims to go undiagnosed for years, as Hartsock’s daughter did.
“It happens a lot more than you would think,” she said. “Children get sick, go to the doctor, and only then find out they are diabetic.”
Once a child is diagnosed, it’s important for families to learn about the disease as well, McDavid noted. “We provide knowledge and training on care management, healthy eating, and consistent physical activity,” she said. “Our mission is to educate, encourage, and empower children with diabetes and their families to live well.”
Hartsock’s daughter Bridgette created possibilities for others, too. Her organs were donated, with her heart going to a then-seven-year-old girl who just turned 29.
“My daughter is still an inspiration,” Hartsock said, “and using that inspiration to impact others means the world to me.”
Whitehaven Insurance has its own mission of giving, too. Several employees volunteer with Camp Seale Harris and support other local nonprofits. The agency even provides paid time off for volunteer efforts.
That dedication to community has earned a Safeco Make More Happen Award, and the $10,000 to Camp Seale Harris on behalf of Whitehaven.. As many as 20 kids could attend a weeklong camp for that amount.
“With the support of Whitehaven Insurance, we keep moving closer to our goal of making sure every child with diabetes in Alabama can experience our camps,” McDavid said. “Dora and her colleagues help make Camp Seale Harris possible for these children.”
Pictured: Scott Harris, COO of Whitehaven; Bruce White, CEO of Whitehaven; Dora Hartsock, Agent at Whitehaven; Rhonda McDavid, Executive Director at Camp Seale Harris; Brian Boughton, Safeco Territory Manager