SHERIDAN — First Interstate Bank closed its doors at noon Sept. 11 so employees could partake in a companywide volunteer event.
Penny Covalt, FIB employee who volunteered at the Compass Center for Families, said 2,000 FIB employees across six states volunteered 8,000 hours to various organizations on Wednesday.
Employees were paid to volunteer at several community nonprofit organizations under a company focus to support organizations that alleviate hunger, homelessness and poverty.
David Hubert, market president at First Interstate Bank, said individual branches were encouraged to select nonprofits that suited employee interests and the needs of each community.
Sheridan FIB employees volunteered at the Salvation Army, Compass Center for Families, Volunteers of America Northern Rockies, The Hub on Smith, Habitat for Humanity of the Eastern Bighorns and The Food Group.
Development Director Skye Heeren at The Hub on Smith said FIB volunteers took shelf-stable meals to people’s homes, in case of an emergency where The Hub couldn’t deliver hot meals as usual.
Lacie Welty, FIB employee who volunteered at Salvation Army, said the experience was team-building.
Last year, 1,250 volunteers participated in six states and logged about 2,600 volunteer hours on 76 community projects, according to FIB.
FIB anticipated close to 100% participation from all 2,500 employees, with only a small staff remaining to perform essential bank functions, Hubert said.
The bank has a culture of volunteering in the community, from individual branches to top administration and the founding family. The 66 employees at the downtown FIB location serve on more than 100 boards, he said. FIB was founded by Homer Scott in 1968, according to the company website.
“Giving back to this community has honestly been a huge part of the Scott family,” he said.
Hubert said 2% of bank profits go to donations for community organizations and FIB double-matches donations from employees to community organizations made during the third quarter.
FIB relies on employees to know where dollars and volunteer time will be most useful in their communities, he said. Employees aren’t required to participate but were eager to sign up for projects from the beginning.
“I think if you went all the way to the chairman of the board, Jim Scott, that this is surely from the heart of what he feels is important,” he said.
Hubert said it’s important for bank employees to be involved in public service because supporting healthy communities leads to a healthy economy.
There are more nonprofit organizations in Sheridan than other towns in the state. Monetary donations and volunteer hours go far in Sheridan, he said.
While many FIB employees volunteer or donate to nonprofits regularly, this event gives employees the opportunity to dive in and do what needs doing, he said.
“We’re looking for things that we know have impacts in this community,” he said.
Ginny Wiesen said it was remarkable to see the quantity of donations the Salvation Army manages each day and it was rewarding to help out.
Dela Prazma, Salvation Army employee, said she was glad to have the extra help as they’re usually short-handed.
Covalt and other volunteers cleared out a room that Compass plans to use as a visitation area for families and cleaned and raked around the office property.
Covalt said bank employees were advised to choose an organization that they connect with, and she loves what Compass does for the community.
As a longtime FIB employee, Covalt said this volunteer event is one example of how the organization lives up to its company tenet: commitment to community.