The year 2016 marked our 10-year anniversary serving West Michigan, and we celebrated with the community. To honor our anniversary and continue giving back to the place we call home, our employees selected 10 local non-profits to support throughout 2016 in Kalamazoo, Portage and Grand Rapids.
Selected charities included Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids, Kids’ Food Basket, Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, YWCA Domestic Assault Program and Kalamazoo Deacons Conference.
First National Bank of Michigan kicked off its anniversary by collecting toys, books, and games for children hospitalized at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids as well as clothing and blankets for infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Bank employees also donated cash and gift cards to assist the hospital in purchasing items for older children.
“The staff of First National Bank of Michigan’s Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Portage locations came together with a large assortment of wonderful surprises for the kids that we treat. These donations will help us continue to provide a better experience for our patients,” said Amy Larsen, Program Coordinator at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Larsen said she was happy to accept the donations. Since many toys and books are not reusable due to the nature of children’s illnesses, patients are often allowed to take items home with them when they leave the hospital.
Through Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring Kalamazoo County Bowl for Kids’ Sake, three teams of bowling bankers raised $955 with a match from the bank of $100 for each team for a total raised of $1,255.
“We are grateful to First National Bank of Michigan for supporting Kalamazoo County Bowl for Kids’ Sake 2016,” said Kathy Praedel, Bowl for Kids’ Sake coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “As we continue to raise funds through Bowl for Kids’ Sake events in Allegan, Barry, Calhoun and Van Buren counties, we are grateful for generous supporters like our friends at First National Bank of Michigan. Our supporters and volunteers help make it possible for local children to change their lives for the better, forever through the power of mentoring.”
The bank’s employees took the Mission’s wish list to heart by collecting a bounty of needed items and delivering them to the mission on April 11, 2016. Tammy Clubb, Kalamazoo Gospel Mission Director of Development, was surprised at the amount of items collected. “We appreciate the amazing amount of donations from all the staff at First National Bank of Michigan. The items you contributed will be put to use almost immediately to help support our mission,” said Tammy Clubb.
Kalamazoo Gospel mission offers emergency provisions, such as shelter, food, clothing, hygiene products and more, to families and individuals facing hardships. In addition, they provide recovery services to help individuals overcome addictions and poor work histories to assist them in regaining a stable lifestyle through long-term programming. Through education and life skills training, mission residents find resources to help them break the cycle of homelessness and be more successful in their new homes.
The most recent recipient of the bank’s anniversary giving is Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes. On May 19, a group of employees volunteered to help sort food collected during the 24th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive on Saturday, May 14, 2016. “We received 76,122 pounds of food from the Letter Carriers’ Drive and we need extra hands to help sort and organize. We are thankful for the team from First National Bank of Michigan that helped us get a large amount of food sorted to disperse at our 23+ pantry locations,” said Meg Gernaat, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes.
In 1982 several downtown church congregations came together to share resources and create an organized response to local hunger and Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes (KLF) was born. Over the years, the number of congregations increased and the food distribution sites expanded. KLF is the largest supplemental food provider in Kalamazoo County.
June is focused on Kids’ Food Basket of Grand Rapids. Two groups of bank employees volunteered to help prepare Sack Suppers at Kids’ Food Basket for the children in the Grand Rapids area. “The support of this initiative is critical. We know that when kids have access to healthy food their minds and bodies grow strong and they do better in school,” said Bridget Clark Whitney, Executive Director, Kids’ Food Basket. “With the generous support of community partners such as First National Bank of Michigan, we can provide a child daily access to nutritious Sack Suppers that contain brain food, healthy habits and a touch of love from the community’s involvement and dedication to help local kids thrive.” Kids' Food Basket began serving 125 kids with these evening meals, and in one decade has grown to serve nearly 7,500 kids in greater Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Holland.
Our July celebrations included Kalamazoo's Ministry with Community. The bank sponsored lunch at Ministry with Community and a group of bank employee served lunch to their members. Ministry with Community is a haven in Kalamazoo for people who are struggling with homelessness, poverty, mental illness and other challenges. MwC helps rebuild lives by providing food, daytime shelter and supportive services while working collaboratively with other community organizations.
“The bank not only sponsored lunch, they also served lunch to our members. It’s great to see a local institution giving back to the local community,” said Gretta Terrentine, Development Director, Ministry with Community. “With the generous support of community partners such as First National Bank of Michigan, we can provide healthy, nutritious meals to our members and it’s even better when our supporters can help serve.”
Each fall the Boys & Girls Clubs hold a Back Pack Drive to collect school supplies and materials for the back-to-school season. So for part of July and August, we collected three tubs full of school supplies for the kids.
“From notebook paper and pencils to glue sticks and construction paper, the bank brought all types of school supplies to support our 2016 Backpack Drive,” said Nikki Outhier, Boys & Girls Club of Grand Rapids Chief Development Officer. “We like to partner with organizations like First National Bank of Michigan that feel strongly about supporting our local community.” The Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids provides a world-class camp and club experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who enters their doors, with all members on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship, and living a healthy lifestyle.