How One Independent Agency is Changing the World

By | December 16, 2019

Sterling L. Hammack, Jr., the founder of Professional Insurance Associates (PIA) in San Carlos, Calif., was an extensive world traveler. During his life, Sterling visited over 100 countries, including many in Africa, often with his wife Paula.

After Sterling passed away from a long battle with cancer in January 2010, Paula wanted to honor Sterling and his passion for the world by establishing The Sterling L. Hammack Foundation.

Founded in 2011, The Hammack Foundation supports communities in Kenya and other parts of Africa by providing funding to support basic human life needs, including health care, potable water, energy and education.

The foundation strives to improve living conditions, says Paul Hammack, president of PIA and the son of Sterling and Paula Hammack.

The foundation’s projects include drilling water wells, creating water catchment systems, building schools, building teacher and student housing, and building medical clinics. In addition to these projects, the foundation also provides scholarships to help students from primary school through college.

Paul says his mother had visited Africa, often with his father, more than 30 times prior to starting the foundation.

“Through her visits, she got to know many of the guides and villages,” he said.

Today, PIA is the primary funding source for the foundation. The foundation also receives donations from family, friends and other sources.

Paul says the foundation is very hands-on, and Paula plays a key role in how the money is distributed and for what projects to support. “The agency looks at the needs and how we can help,” he said. “Right now, there are a couple of classrooms and student dormitories that need to be constructed, for example,” he said.

Aside from private donations, the foundation has held a fundraising golf tournament in the past to support efforts, he added. Much like the privately held, family-run insurance agency Sterling founded years ago, The Hammack Foundation is a family affair. Last year, Paul and his daughter visited Africa to see first-hand how the foundation is making a difference.

Supporting charitable efforts is in the family genes, Paul says. “We’ve always supported charities through church organizations and other small scale events,” he said. “But for my mom, the idea to create a foundation for Africa came from her and my father’s travels,” he said. “She saw they are often missing very basic needs; they have no utilities, no running water.”

Learning about those communities inspired Paula and the agency to make a difference by creating the foundation, he added.

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Insurance Journal West December 16, 2019
December 16, 2019
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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