The Walsh Insurance Group, a Buffalo-born, family-owned insurance firm, today marked its 150th anniversary by donating $50,000 to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (previous here). The donation will fund new trees to be planted in Delaware Park, as well as organizational support.
More than 100 Walsh employees and their family members launched the tree initiative by planting the first 150 trees at five sites along the ring road this morning. Children of Walsh staff also planted dozens of bulbs in the Susan B. Komen perennial garden adjacent to the Parkside Lodge as part of the ‘giving back to Buffalo’ event.
“Our great-grandfathers planted our insurance seeds in Buffalo in 1860. Like a tree, our firm has grown strong roots anchoring us to this wonderful community and sturdy branches which reach outside the region to serve and protect our clients, “said Walsh CEO, John N. Walsh, III.
“Donating trees seemed the perfect way for us to give back to Buffalo, its people and its companies for the loyal support they have given us over the last 150 years. We are honored to partner with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy on behalf of a vibrant future.”
Thomas Herrera-Mishler, president and CEO of the Conservancy, said the donation is one of the largest private gifts Olmsted has ever received.
“The size of donation is quite amazing and it is a huge step toward our goal of planting 1,000 new trees a year, Herrera-Mishler said.
The new trees include a wide variety of tree species native to Western New York, including maple, birch, beech, pines and oak, along with a mix of service berry, red bud, red gum, Catawba and many others.
“The location of the planting is also very significant because it is a great help as we work to restore the woodland buffer Frederick Law Olmsted created for the ring road area of Delaware Park. His idea was to have trees screen out the hustle and bustle of city life so visitors can enter the park through a woodland into a peaceful, pastoral meadow landscape,” Herrera-Mishler said.
Delaware District Common Councilmember Michael J. LoCurto, a long-time champion of the city’s historic Olmsted park system, said he was thrilled to see a Buffalo business partner with parks.
“I applaud the Walsh Insurance Group for its generous donation to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and congratulate the company on its 150th Anniversary in Buffalo. Our parks are a beautiful and thriving treasure and play a role in attracting and retaining businesses in Buffalo. I would hope other local companies would follow this example and invest in our parks,” LoCurto said.
The donation, which is valued at $50,000, includes a $25,000 gift from Walsh, plus another $25,000 from insurance companies from around the country whose policies it offers. That list includes: Acadia Insurance, Adirondack, Allegany Co-op, Andover, Chubb Insurance, Erie & Niagara Insurance Association, Hanover, Hartford Insurance, Independent Health, Kemper, Liberty Mutual, LoVullo Associates, National Grange Mutual, New York Central Mutual, Peerless Insurance, Peerless/Safeco, Philadelphia Insurance, PMA Insurance, Progressive, Russell Bond, Sun Life Insurance, The Business Council, Tower Insurance, Travelers, Utica National Insurance and WH Greene & Associates.
The Conservancy has been working to restore tree stock to Buffalo’s parks and parkways which at their peak boasted a collective forest of more than 42,000 trees. Due to decades of neglect, compounded by the October 2006 storm which killed over 500 trees, there are currently just 15,000 trees within the parks system.
The Walsh Insurance Group, which was founded in Buffalo in 1860, is one of about a dozen local companies which have been in continuous business for the past 150 years.