WBOC LEADING WOMAN
RHONDA CABRINHA A culture of giving back Alyssa Dearborn
Rhonda Cabrinha never planned on having a career in the insurance industry, but she has built a career and worked her way up the ladder to become the president of Ellis, Moreland & Ellis. At the insurance agency, she not only found an opportunity to provide reliable insurance coverage to others, she also found a way to be a charitable force for the surrounding community.
“As an insurance agency,” Cabrinha said, “I feel that we help the community all the time because we are protecting peoples’ assets. So, if somebody has a car accident, or a fire in their home, or some kind of financial loss, we’re there to help them. We are locally owned, we’re here in the community, so we feel we help out in that way. And, of course, we try to help out a little with our charity of the month.”
The bulk of Cabrinha and Ellis, Moreland & Ellis’ charitable work is through, what Cabrinha called, their charity of the month. It was an idea that the company president heard worked well within other local companies, so she implemented her own version of the idea at the agency.
“Since February of 2016, any of my employees that participate in our charity of the month get to dress casually on Fridays.” She explained, “If you come in here on Friday, you see people with jeans on and dressed very casual. They love it. So it kind of took off from there.”
“Every month I try to choose a local charity that is not like a huge non-profit that gets tons of donations.” She continued, “We tend to choose smaller ones. Like this month, we’re actually working with Vera House. We’re also making a couple of gift baskets for their charity auction in December. We’ve done pillows and items for Positively Pink Packages, a charity that gives out gift baskets to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. We made pillows and donated food for the place at the airport where people in the military can go when they’re traveling. So we made travel pillows for them. We just try to do things of that nature.”
Even though she was the one who brought a charitable spirit to Ellis, Moreland & Ellis, she emphasized that it is not just one person who brings a focus on philanthropy to the company. “I just want to make it clear that it’s not me alone doing this.” She explained, “It’s the whole agency that pulls together to do things for the community. My employees are very, very generous and I appreciate that.”
While these efforts are for the good of the community, rather than the prosperity of the company, they have had the secondary benefit of team-building and developing a sense of comradery among Ellis, Moreland & Ellis employees.
“I feel very fortunate for what we have in life.” She said, “What I’ve been given, it feels good to help the underserved or the underprivileged. We try to do a broad range of what we help do for the community. I just feel that it’s important to—based on what we have—to give back. It makes a better community for everybody if everyone just gives a little.” SWM