Donor Spotlight: Wayne Blackwell

by | Jun 14, 2024 | Spotlight

One of the most daunting experiences I faced as a new executive director was learning the names and faces of everyone who supports CASA’s mission. It was exciting, of course, but also felt like a whirlwind. I remember at my first CASA event, just four days into my job, I introduced myself to the same people twice. Not a great look.

That’s why my introduction to Wayne Blackwell from Blackwell Insurance Services was so memorable. CASA board member Tony Grossa met me at Wayne’s office and took me inside. Since I had been on the job for only a few weeks, Tony helped me with the conversation. I needn’t have worried, though. Wayne is warm and friendly, and after a few minutes, we realized that we had attended Calvin College–now Calvin University–together in the late ‘80s.

When Wayne learned this, he spun around in his chair, opened a credenza drawer, and pulled out the photo directories from our college days. “Why do you have those?” I asked. “It’s good for making connections,” he replied.

There we sat with Tony looking at photos of Wayne and me in our late teens.

As I said, my introduction to Wayne was memorable. What I also learned that day is that Blackwell Insurance has been supporting CASA since 2013, when Tony extended an invitation to sponsor the annual luncheon. Over a decade later, Blackwell Insurance continues to sponsor, and now Wayne extends the invitation to one of his business partners, West Bend Insurance, for a donation match. Best of all, at this year’s luncheon, Wayne graciously used his made-for-broadcasting voice to serve as our emcee.

Recently, I sat down with Wayne to pick his brain about how to involve other small-business owners in CASA’s mission. What I learned about him did not surprise me. He’s a quiet giver, and he and his wife Kristin choose to support several nonprofits that help them extend love to their neighbors. In Wayne’s own words, “I give out of gratitude with a joyful heart.”

 

This story is featured in the Summer 2024 edition of CASA Connect, CASA of Kent County’s quarterly newsletter. Click here to view a pdf version of this newsletter.

 

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