Community Stories

Minnesota Banks Supporting their Communities Video



Habitat Breaks Ground on Minnesota’s First “Veterans Build” Project

Military family gets a new home, volunteers get a chance to make a difference

Following months of planning, the ground was broken on September 17, 2018, in a ceremonial launch of the first “Veterans Build” in the state of Minnesota for Habitat for Humanity.  Soon a slab will be laid and construction will begin; ultimately providing safe and affordable housing for a veteran family.  The property is located near downtown St. Cloud, donated by private party to Habitat to support its mission.

The house will be built by volunteers, along with more than two hundred hours of sweat equity by the new homeowner, family, and friends over the next 9-12 months. With oversight of Habitat, local contractors provide and supervise the work, and many gifts-in-kind from suppliers and builders will come together to make this home a reality. Once the home is complete, the chosen homeowner will purchase the home from Central MN Habitat for Humanity with an affordable mortgage and payment. 

Quoting Habitat founder Millard Fuller, Minnesota’s statewide Executive Director Chris Vosbeek shared a guiding principle the organization is founded on, “Life is both a gift and a responsibility.”  He went on to state that when community members come together, good things happen.  The project launching in St. Cloud is a testament to that.  

MidCountry Bank, Jacobs Financial, EMS and NETTwork Manufacturing provided key sponsorships to make this project a reality.  “MidCountry Bank is pleased to be a part of this region’s first Veterans Build project,” said Steve Meads, President and CEO of MidCountry Bank. “We appreciate the opportunity to help a military family achieve their homeownership dream, while providing community volunteers and our local team members the chance to help construct this new home in the historic  Northeast Wilson Park neighborhood.”  

Watch for more information and volunteer opportunities on the Habitat for Humanity – Central MN website  Habitat for Humanity is always looking for folks who can lend a hand to complete this important work. 

Peoples State Bank donates to PEM's 'Angel Fund'

Newly founded fund allows for every child to eat hot lunch

Members of the Minnesota Bankers Association (MBA) Leadership Development Academy, Robert Root and Lauren Schuster, along with Susan Suckow from Peoples State Bank, present a check to Plainview-Elgin-Milleville Public Schools (PEM's) Food Service Director, Tami Folkert, and PEM's Superintendent, Bill Ihrke, for the amount of $3,350. The funds will be used to pay off PEM's school lunch deficit and the remainder to be applied to PEM's newly founded Angel Fund. The PEM Angel Fund allows for every child to be able to eat a hot school lunch.

Suckow's team at the MBA Academy, named Cold Steel, consists of six community bankers in Minnesota. The teams were tasked with a project that would benefit each of their local communities. They decided on a project to help reduce school lunch debt in each of their six school districts. The focus is on school lunch debt created by students with a hardship who do not qualify for free lunches. The goal is to bring awareness of this problem and raise funds to assist schools, families, and students in their local areas. The team's mission has been named: FAST-Feed All Students Today.

Peoples State Bank employees donated funds from their casual Friday funds and participated in a raffle drawing, along with a generous Peoples State Bank donation toward the cause.

Stearns Bank Donates $108,000 to Help the Families of Wounded Veterans

Donation allows Wounded Warriors Family Support to purchase vehicles for veterans in need
This March marks 15 years since Wounded Warriors Family Support was founded, with the goal of assisting the families of those who have been wounded, injured or killed during combat operations. Thanks to a generous gift by Stearns Bank, WWFS is starting off this milestone in a strong way. Among other critical support, Stearns Bank’s donation of $108,680 will be used to purchase vehicles for Native American veterans living on remote reservations.
“Our Native American veterans must travel great distances to reach a VA clinic for their health care,” said WWFS founder Colonel John Folsom, USMCR (Ret.). “Currently, they don’t have reliable transportation and these vehicles will ensure they are able to receive the timely and consistent care they need. We are very grateful to Stearns Bank for their support. This generous contribution goes a long way toward helping our organization execute on our mission.”
Stearns Bank generated the large contribution by donating all loan packaging fees and documentation fees collected from borrowers during the week leading up to Veterans Day last November. Stearns Bank will continue its nationwide program of waiving 100% of the bank’s packaging fees on SBA loans for eligible veteran business owners, in addition to providing the other SBA program savings for veterans.
“We are proud to support and recognize the many men and women who serve our country,” said Stearns Bank CEO Norman Skalicky. “We honor their dedication and sacrifices, and Stearns Bank will continue to do all we can to support veterans and their families.”
Skalicky himself is a veteran. His military career began with the ROTC program at the University of North Dakota. He served on active duty in the United States Army from 1956-58 and then served in the reserves for more than 15 years.
“We are very happy to begin our 15th year as a foundation with Stearns Bank by our side,” said Col. Folsom. “Not only is this financial support critical for our organization’s ongoing efforts, this act of kindness has a positive emotional impact on the families we serve at a time when they need it most.”  
Individuals and organizations interested in donating to WWFS can find more information at

Winona National Bank Employees Donate $854 from Jeans Day Funds

Winona National Bank is pleased to announce two donations in the amount of $427 each to the Winona Community Warming Center and the Winona Area Public Schools Feed the Kids Fund. The donations were made possible from “Jeans Day” collections, where employees choose to pay $2 each Friday to wear casual jeans during the work day, with the proceeds benefitting local non-profit organizations.

After soliciting nominations from employees, the Bank’s Public Relations Committee selected two organizations to support: the Winona Community Warming Center, nominated by Loan Operations & Business Banking Specialist Julie Monson, as well as the WAPS Feed the Kids Fund, nominated by Trust Support Specialist Diana Bartholomew.

The Winona Community Warming Shelter provides temporary, emergency shelter for the adult 18 and over homeless population of Winona County. It provides a safe, warm overnight stay every night from November through March and is a program of Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota.

The Winona Area Public Schools Feed the Kids Fund is a safety net for K–12 students who do not have sufficient funds in their accounts to cover the cost of school meals and who do not qualify for meal benefits. The program saves children the embarrassment of not having money to pay for their meals.

Winona National Bank employees understand the importance of giving back to the community they serve. In 2017, 41 Winona National Bank employees donated 1,711 hours of service to 84 local organizations. Over $297,500 was gifted to the community in the areas of education and youth programs, fine arts and culture, health and wellness, and community service.

Reinert Receives WNB Community PRIDE Award

Winona National Bank is pleased to announce Teller Shelby Reinert as the recipient of its 2017 fourth quarter Community PRIDE Award.

Awarded quarterly by the Bank’s Public Relations Committee, Community PRIDE Awards recognize WNB employees for exceptional volunteer service to programs, organizations, and initiatives that contribute to the strength and vitality of the communities served. This includes volunteering efforts made both during and outside of work hours.

In 2017, Reinert dedicated 113 hours to a student through the Miller Mentoring program at Winona Senior High School. Partnered together for two years, Reinert has helped the student with academic goal setting, completing homework, building communication skills, and boosting self-confidence.

As a Community PRIDE Award recipient, Reinert received $100 to donate to the non-profit organization of her choice, which she chose to donate to Miller Mentoring. In addition, she received a certificate of recognition and a Winona National Bank logo shirt.

In 2017, 41 Winona National Bank employees donated 1,711 hours of service to 84 local organizations. Over $297,500 was gifted to the community in the areas of education and youth programs, fine arts and culture, health and wellness, and community service.

MidCountry Bank Makes Contribution to Veteran Project Partnership with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities

MidCountry Bank has been a longtime partner with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities (RTTC), with contributions of time, talent and financial support reaching back over 12 years.  While the partnership between MidCountry Bank and RTTC is not new, the focus of a new joint Veteran project is a first for MidCountry. As part of the partnership, the $50,000 cash donation from MidCountry to RTTC in December provides funding for a home repair project benefitting a Veteran homeowner in need.
Team members of MidCountry are eager to apply the company values of Compassion, Honesty, Integrity, Excellence, and Fairness to the RTTC/MidCountry Bank joint project when it kicks off in the spring. Under the guidance of RTTC program managers, a project site will be selected in the coming months. MidCountry will provide overall project management support, as well as over 400 hours of volunteer work to complete the tasks that will help make life for the selected Veteran better.

Greg Krenz, President of MidCountry Mortgage shares that “MidCountry is honored to have the opportunity to give back to our community through this partnership with Rebuilding Together Twin Cities. Extending our support to a Veteran who has given so much to not only their community, but to our Country, is simply the right thing to do.”

MidCountry Bank is a full-service bank headquartered in Bloomington, MN.  With 14 branch locations in Minnesota, MidCountry actively engages in its communities to provide high quality, diversified financial services and solutions for consumer and business clients.  A comprehensive scope of banking, cash management, equipment leasing, mortgage insurance and investment products, tools and services make us a solid financial ally.

Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, an affiliate of Rebuilding Together, Inc., has been preserving and revitalizing homes and communities in the metropolitan area since 1997. Programs provide opportunities for community involvement. Through sponsors and volunteer efforts, Rebuilding Together Twin Cities strives to impact communities and the nonprofit places where neighborhood members gather.

Winona National Bank ‘Bears & Blankets’ Deliveries

Winona National Bank helped give comfort to those in need, delivering 539 items collected through its annual Bears & Blankets drive. Winona National collected the items from November 24 through December 11 at its three office locations. Employees delivered the items to 12 local organizations, and those organizations will distribute the items to those in need of comfort throughout the year.

This year’s benefitting organizations included Birthright of Winona, Family & Children’s Center, Hiawatha Valley Mental Health, Saint Anne Extended Healthcare, Sauer Health Care, Winona Health, Winona Fire Department, Winona Police Department, Winona Senior High School’s Counseling Office, Winona Volunteer Services, Women’s Resource Center, and the Winona Warming Center.

Montevideo - Let's Paint the Town Purple

On Monday, September 18, 2017, Minnwest Bank - Montevideo dressed in purple to bring awareness to Alzheimer's Disease, which is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. The Montevideo Area Memory Loss Network, in conjunction with the Montevideo Area Chamber, is continually working to keep the Montevideo community dementia friendly and getting people talking about Alzheimer's.

The Castle Rock Bank Embraces Community 

The Minnesota Bankers Association celebrated Community Impact Week September 18-22.

The Castle Rock Bank  has a long history of working closely with its community organizations and was delighted to report on their philanthropic endeavor during this time.

The Castle Rock Bank donated $5,000 to 360 Communities for the battered Women’s Shelters in Dakota County. It had previously donated $5,000 to its Golf tournament in August. The bank also donated $500 to the Farmington High School Homecoming festivities which will take place in October, $200 towards the pork chop dinner for the Patriotic Day celebration in November, $300 to the Northfield Women’s Center, $393 to St Michaels fundraiser, and agreed to generate funds for the Farmington Firefighters by placing two advertisements in the Farmington Independent for the Turkey Bingo fundraiser, while donating the napkins and $300 towards the food to be served that evening. Other noteworthy donations were made to the Rambling River Center and the Houston Relief Fund. 

The Castle Rock Bank’s motto is: You know us, we know you. That’s the Spirit of Community Pride! 

Western Bank of Cass Lake Donates Books to Local Students

Students at Northern Dreams Gymnastics were greeted on Wednesday with books and a reading from a local author. Author D.R. Winter from International Falls read “Snackster Sam’s Big Adventure,” a book and program designed to help kids make better decisions on which snacks (and foods) are best for their bodies in a new and engaging way. Western Bank of Cass Lake donated a book to each student, as part of the Minnesota Bankers Community Impact Week initiative.

“Western Bank thinks healthy life choices include exercise, good eating habits and wise use of finances. Choosing good snacks includes delayed gratification, planning for the long haul and exercising will power. All similar considerations in saving and spending money,” stated the bank’s president, Larry Refsland. “We were excited to about the opportunity to work together with D.R. Winter and Northern Dreams Gymnastics to help the students learn about eating healthy in a fun way.”
Students had the opportunity to take a picture with a large cut-out of the Snackster-Sam character and get a signed book by D.R.Winter.

Northern Dreams Gymnastics has quickly grown since moving into the current location at 207 2nd St NW in Cass Lake and now serves approximately 100 students in gymnastics and karate classes. The students not only learn skills, but are encouraged to make healthy choices part of their lifestyle. Northern Dreams owner, Erin Reyes, has extensive background in nutrition and was pleased to host the Snackster Sam event. She said "It is important for kids to learn to lead a healthy, active lifestyle as well as introducing nutritional eating habits. The two go hand in hand. It was so great for the kids to be able to sit down, read Snackster Sam, and have a fun discussion about their food choices."

WNB Hot Dog Lunch Raises $526.60 for Main Street Program

Winona National Bank raised $526.60 for the Winona Main Street Program after selling its famous $1 hot dog lunch at the Touch-A-Truck and Play Streets event on Saturday, May 13.

Touch-A-Truck and Play Streets was a free event where families could explore parked trucks in parking lots and participate in activities in the streets. An estimated 2,000 people visited Downtown Winona during the event.

 The Winona Main Street Program is committed to Historic Downtown Winona being the heart of our community and region – a vibrant hub of commerce, entertainment, recreation, and recreational life. Visit for more information.

Minnesota Bankers Community Impact Week!

Thank you to the banks that participated in this campaign, giving your time, energy and financial resources to build stronger communities. View the photo gallery!

23rd Annual Chili Cookoff Raises $5,000.35 for Ready Set School

On a beautiful weekend, through sales and donations, a total of $5,000.35 was raised for Ready Set School at the 23rd Annual Chili Cookoff, sponsored by Winona National Bank on Saturday, February 11. A large crowd enjoyed 23 varieties of chili donated by local Winona businesses.

Ready Set School was created to ensure that all Winona County children have the basic and necessary school supplies to better succeed in school. Up to 35% of children in the county may come from families that lack the financial resources to provide supplies to their kids. Ready Set School is there to help those children.

If you have a community service story you would like to share, please contact Eric Hauth at the MBA.