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Area nonprofits get final NAIFA donations

Area nonprofits get final NAIFA donations

December 1st, 2018 by Philip Joens in Local News

On behalf of Rape and Abuse Crisis Service and the Special Learning Center, respective executive directors Alden Henrickson, left, and Debbie Hamler accepted checks from the local National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. NAIFA is disbanding its local branch and thusly emptied their checking account.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

When Greg Russell gave Debbie Hamler, Special Learning Center executive director, a check Friday morning, the clock on the local chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors ran out.

NAIFA once had 50 local members. But in recent years, membership dipped to as low as 18 people. With membership in the NAIFA's national organization declining, the group is in the midst of a restructuring plan that is shedding smaller chapters like the one in Jefferson City.

As the local chapter disbands, it wanted to give away all of its remaining funds to the Special Learning Center and the Rape and Abuse Crisis Service Center.

First, Russell presented RACS Executive Director Alden Henrickson a check for $3,560. A few moments later, he presented Hamler with a check for $10,684.

Russell is the president of the local NAIFA chapter and executive vice president of Missouri Dental Insurance Services. Of the group's 18 members, only a handful were still active members, he said.

"This represents the total dissolvement of our treasury funds," Russell said. "This is it."

NAIFA, a trade organization for the insurance and financial industries, began a restructuring in 2014 that aims to pare down its number struggling local chapters. At one point, the national organization had 140,000 members but now has about 35,000, according to the insurance trade publication Insurance News Net.

The goal is to have fewer local chapters, but stronger local chapters, according to Insurance News.

"The modernization of our association is a major opportunity to re-position and re-brand NAIFA as the largest, strongest and most prestigious association in insurance and financial services," NAIFA president Keith Gillies said in a guide to the restructuring on NAIFA's website.

Hamler and Henrickson said funds provided by the group played an important role in their organizations. In 1993, NAIFA's local chapter began holding an annual golf tournament that raises money for the Special Learning Center. Ten years after the tournament began, the Special Learning Center used money raised by the tournament to build a new wing, which houses a sensory motor therapy room. The room has a soft floor, ball pit, other therapy tools and can serve as a play room.

Since the tournament's creation, NAIFA raised more than $500,000 for the Special Learning Center. In recent years, the tournament raised about $25,000 per year, which has gone to the Special Learning Center's general operating budget, Hamler said.

"We are going to greatly miss that," she said. "It's critical to us."

The Special Learning Center may look for a way it can host the golf tournament on its own, Hamler said.

"People really love it," she said. "It's not going to be an easy task."

Henrickson has been in his post for four years. Over that time, he said, NAIFA has been one of many constant contributors.

"It's unfortunate, but it was very nice that they remembered us," Henrickson said.