Volunteering and community service are the hallmark of every community bank. Along with providing superior customer service, common-sense business practices, and local lending expertise, community bankers work hand-in-hand with consumers, small-business owners and local nonprofits to make their communities better places to live and work.
Whether it’s providing a venue for young musicians to showcase their talents and raise funds for a worthy cause, helping a community recover following a natural disaster, or promoting area businesses and nonprofits to support the economy, community banks are difference-makers and the bedrock of their communities.
Service is what sets community banks apart, makes them stand out, and is the genesis behind ICBA’s National Community Bank Service Awards program. More than 100 distinguished bankers have been recognized for their altruistic efforts through the program. Four are highlighted below and serve as a heartening testament to the wide variety of public service contributions that community banks make every day throughout the nation.
2014 Honoree First Columbia Bank & Trust
In the seven years since its music competition program was introduced, Bloomsburg, Pa.-based First Columbia Bank & Trust has given away $35,000 in prize money and raised an additional $35,000 in ticket proceeds and donations that have gone directly to local high school music departments. The schools have used that money to purchase items such as sound equipment, new instruments and sheet music.
“It has really evolved into something that the whole community looks forward to,” said Lance O. Diehl, president and CEO of the $700 million-asset bank.
2009 Honorees Lincoln Savings Bank and First National Bank
In the spring of 2008, when a category 5 tornado and subsequent flooding hit the state of Iowa, $950 million-asset Lincoln Savings Bank and $358 million-asset First National Bank mobilized their resources to lend a helping hand.
The Lincoln Savings Bank Foundation was used to collect funds nationwide and distribute grants to disaster victims. Bank employees were responsible for getting the word out, fielding phone calls, processing applications and releasing grant money. In total, more than $1 million was collected and redistributed to 560 individuals, who received financial assistance ranging from $500 to $1,000.
Like Lincoln Savings, First National Bank employees sprung into action in the days and weeks following the storm. They worked side-by-side with deployed National Guard troops in sandbagging efforts and distributed sack lunches to affected citizens. Within a week after the floods, bank President and CEO Rich Carlson put the bank’s $1 million loan portfolio cash stream to work. Through Oct. 31, 2008, the bank extended 62 low-interest loans to residents in nine communities for a $700,000 cash infusion into the area.
“We just wanted to do what we could,” said Carlson.
2016 Honoree Woodlands Bank
As part of its “Get Local, Give Local and Go Local” social media campaign, the $390 million-asset Woodlands Bank identified local nonprofits representing four areas of need—shelter, food, youth development and clothing—to provide monetary support when customers opened an account or interacted with the bank’s Facebook page. More than 9,500 meals, 100 nights of shelter, 90 outfits and 1,000 hours of activities were generated during the three-month campaign.
Just as important as the financial contribution was shedding a spotlight on an important social issue, said Jamie Caputo, development and community relations director for Northern Tier. The local food bank was one of the organizations to receive donations through the Woodlands Bank initiative.
“Having a bank come alongside us like Woodlands that supports us—as well as other local organizations—to bring awareness to our mission is absolutely fantastic,” says Caputo. “They are folks who are truly invested in making the community better.”
Community banks are invited to join the patchwork of stories showcasing the important role they play in small towns and big cities across the country by submitting a nomination for this year’s National Community Bank Service Awards. Nominations are due Friday, June 2.