Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Ray Backstrom, administrator of the “LaBelle Community Forum” a Group on Facebook that aims to foster connections within our community. We discussed our love of the Caloosahatchee, how wonderful LaBelle is, and all things boats. Shortly after meeting him, we found ourselves stranded a mile or so from his residence, our sailboat quickly filling with water and the engine unable to start. With an optimistic, always-help-your-neighbor attitude that seems all too rare these days, Backstrom and his son, Dakota, immediately hopped into their kayak and paddled out to help. While drifting down river, I asked him a bit about his background.
Originally from Southern Arizona, Backstrom relocated his family of five to LaBelle, attracted by the year-round boating weather. They have lived along Fort Denaud, for about three years.
“LaBelle reminds us of the small towns we like no matter what part of the country you’re in. People are nicer, once they get to know you, and there’s a better feeling of community. Big city people have a much more anonymous feel,” says Ray.
He has served in the US Army, worked as a corrections officer, then spent around 18 years in the Life/Safety industry. “I recently did a radical career change and THAT brings me to where I am today,” remarks Backstrom. He is now working as a Financial Services Specialist with New York Life Insurance Company and provides Multi-Generational Legacy Planning- which he explains is, “Getting people from where they are today, to where they want to be in the future. Helping them put a plan in place to provide a legacy for their children and grandchildren. Helping people is my passion, doing it in a community I belong to is my goal. I have concentrated my efforts in Hendry County, working with several local and county agencies to provide benefits and more.”
When asked how he got started in his new career, he told me, “My wife, Amanda, started in the business about three years ago. Once she realized how much she enjoyed what she was doing, she asked me to join her. Both to introduce me to a great career, and ensure that her clients always receive the individual ‘family treatment’ they’ve grown to expect.” He went on to explain that his wife was promoted into management, so he is now carrying on the service of her clients. He is working as well to add his own new clients, with the hope of strengthening connections throughout the community.
When asked about who should contact him, who would benefit from what he has to offer, Backstrom was quick to reply, “Anyone who cares about their future, family, or employees. If a person has any questions about planning their future finances, leaving a legacy for their families, or providing benefits for their employees -they could benefit from my services.” He added, “One thing I like to stress though, I don’t ‘sell’ anything. I listen to a person’s needs, recommend solutions, and only offer New York Life products if that client wants to look at them as an option.”
“My wife and kids are my world, every ounce of my being is dedicated to providing them the best life I possibly can, and that makes MY life amazing!” Inspired and motivated by his wife and kids, Backstrom truly loves being able to help people make good choices and plan their futures. His personal philosophy? Having worked as a firefighter and EMT for years, after his military service, he says that he lives by the “Do No Harm” oath, and takes every precaution to never do something that isn’t in the best interest of his clients, friends, or family.
“Being able to work with some of the municipal and governmental agencies, has really helped tie me into the area. Also, participating with groups like the LaBelle Down Town Revitalization Corporation, The LaBelle Chamber of Commerce, and most recently, LaBelle Fossil Camp is what really makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the community. As a member of the United States Power Squadrons (America’s Boating Club), I’ve also developed relationships with organizations like Calusa Waterkeepers, Captains for Clean Water, FWC- all are important to our community. It is our children’s future, and their children’s futures that we need to look ahead to- Making this a better place for THEM is the ultimate gift!” He says with pride. His enthusiasm is infectious.
Meeting new LaBellians, like the Backstroms, is always such a blessing. He is not only a really good neighbor, he has some unique skills and great services to offer. If you are interested in discussing finances or benefits, Ray Backstrom can be reached byphone (239)810-9028 or via email: RBackstrom@ft.NewYorkLife.com.