What makes a company truly part of a community? A company’s dedication to serving people and creating jobs helps build a solid foundation for communities and locals, forming a sound place to live and work. But for First Merchants Bank, several factors work together, like its commitment to helping customers feel valued and providing a great environment for employees. But it’s First Merchants Bank’s continued support of local organizations and businesses that brings the community and public service together and sets it apart from the rest.
This year, First Merchants Bank has hosted numerous community events and initiatives for the benefit of the community. From events that motivate students as they head back to school to fundraisers with organizations like the Rotary Club of Hammond, First Merchants Bank continues to show what it means to engage with the Northwest Indiana community. “When we are able to define a project or fundraiser that can have significant impact on our community, we have a captive audience of employees to draw from,” said Stephanie Madison. Community Market Director at First Merchants Bank. “As a company we see the value in social responsibility and send this message to our team members from Day 1 of their employment. When we have such a large group of individuals who are expected and willing to do good work in their community, why wouldn’t we leverage that to the best of our ability? Through our involvement and sponsorships, we are able to make a significant impact on education, housing, food insecurity, and general community development.”
On August 4, First Merchants Bank sponsored a Back to School event with the Hammond Family YMCA. Early in the morning, employees and volunteers greeted hundreds of Hammond kids at the doors of the YMCA and handed out backpacks filled with supplies and everything they needed to begin a successful school year. Hammond children were also given fresh haircuts and dental screenings, so that they could begin the new school year healthy.
First Merchants Bank also hosted the Munster Concert Series, ending on August 5. The bank wanted to bring the very best parts of summer together under one event to unite the community, and has been doing so as the lead sponsor for over 20 years. Bands like “1976” played everyone’s favorite 1970’s hits, from Pat Benatar to Fleetwood Mac. The Munster Parks Department, the Munster Historical Society, and the Munster Girl Scouts were all present at the concert to raise money for park, gazebo, and the Kaske House upkeep. Patrons ate popcorn and sipped root beer as they enjoyed the sounds of summer and gave back to the community with First Merchants Bank.
Twice a month, First Merchants Bank hosts a Blue Jeans Day to help benefit a local organization. In the past years, they have donated money to Methodist Hospitals’ Northwest Indiana Breast Care Center, Humane Indiana, and Girls on the Run, to name a few. One of the recent organizations of choice was St. Joseph’s Carmelite Home for Girls and Boys, a local nonprofit in East Chicago that provides care to children in need and programs for single mothers to get them back on their feet. During each jeans day, First Merchants Bank employees have the option of making a $5.00 contribution; in return, they were able to wear blue jeans to work that day. A beloved event for employees and the community alike, Blue Jeans Day allows for First Merchants Bank employees to engage with local organizations in a simple and casual environment. The most recent jeans day was just as successful as ones before; the Northwest Indiana branch raised $355.00 for St. Joseph’s Carmelite Home for Girls and Boys. First Merchants employees contribute close to $10,000 each year back to local organizations through jeans days.
The United Way Day of Caring was an event that particularly stood out for Madison. First Merchants participated in 5 different projects, coordinated through the United Way on 8/10/2018, across 4 counties. They sent out over 30 volunteers, for a total of 150 hours and were able to impact so many individuals. “We sent groups to the Michigan City Salvation Army, where our Regional President, Daryl Pomranke, led a group deep cleaning a kitchen,” said Madison. “We sent groups to South Suburban Humane Society and Lakeshore Paws, where volunteers deep cleaned the shelters, walked dogs, cuddled cats and gave baths. We sent a group to Opportunity Enterprises in Valparaiso, where FMB team members from all levels removed 5 flatbed trailers of branches and cuttings from a yard of a Client Respite home. Lastly, we had a group of individuals work at PackaPalooza, packaging 100,000 healthy meals for employed individuals who just can’t make ends meet. There is nothing I love more that seeing bank leadership modeling the way and getting their hands dirty at events. It’s encouraging to other team members and sets the tone that working in the community is an expectation.”
Lastly, First Merchants Bank partnered with the Rotary Club of Hammond to host the Bowl with the Pros event at Olympia Lanes in Hammond. The Hammond Rotary Fundraiser Sponsorship raises money for Northwest Indiana nonprofits and organizations, and with the Bowl with the Pros event, patrons were able combine their love for giving back to the community with bowling. Tickets included food, drinks, and a great opportunity to bowl with a Pro-Am bowler; all the proceeds went to Haven House, the Hammond Family YMCA, School City of Hammond, the Boy Scouts, and more!
All these events, each with different benefits, show First Merchants Bank’s dedication to touching the lives of every Northwest Indiana resident and whole communities. “If we continue on the same pace, we’ll end the year with over 2,500 volunteer hours,” said Madison. “We work with too many organizations to name and we’re proud of our impact. Between the volunteer hours and sponsorship dollars, it is undeniable that as a Company, we are making lasting changes in NWI.”
For more information about First Merchants Bank, please visit www.firstmerchants.com.