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2014 ICBA National Community Bank Service Awards
Positive Energy
Community banks rally people, causes and
communities through volunteer service projects
Music teacher Carolyn Sweeney with
finalists in this year’s First Columbia
Teen Star Musical Competition.
2014 ICBA
Bank Service
This year’s 2014 ICBA
National Community
Bank Service Awards
are sponsored by FIS
ICBA members nationwide bring communities together with
compassionate and inspiring volunteer service projects
olunteer community service is the hallmark of every
community bank. Along with providing superior customer service, common-sense and trustworthy business
practices, and special local lending expertise, community
banks work hard every day to make their communities
better places to live and work.
That’s what distinguishes community banks from all
other financial services providers.
For the past 13 years, the ICBA National Community
Bank Service Awards have promoted how community
banks everywhere provide outstanding, hands-on and
positive volunteer community service efforts. Nearly 200
community banks submitted nominations for this year’s
program, which is recognizing a Grand National, two
National and five Honorable Mention recipients. These
ICBA member banks have started new grassroots service
programs that have successfully addressed an important
community need, but each program has also achieved so
much more in bringing people and communities together
for a worthy cause.
“This year’s ICBA National Community Bank Service
Awards have shown exceptional creativity and commitment to making their communities better places to live
and work,” says ICBA Chairman John Buhrmaster, president of 1st National Bank of Scotia, N.Y. “The exceptional
volunteer efforts and civic generosity of each service
award recipient are examples of, and a heartening testament to, the wide variety of public service contributions
that community banks make every day throughout the
ICBA congratulates this year’s National Community
Bank Service Award recipients, and all of the nation’s
community banks, for the extraordinary volunteer service
work they do.
Grand National Award Recipient
National Award Recipient
National Award Recipient
First Columbia Bank & Trust Co.
Bloomsburg, Pa.
Service program: First Columbia Teen
Star Musical Competition
Service category: Arts and Music
Bank website:
1st United Bank
Faribault, Minn.
Service program: Ride for Hospice
Service category: Other
Bank website:
Bank of American Fork
American Fork, Utah
Service program: Project Teddy
Service category: Other
Bank website:
ICBA IndependentBanker
September 2014
First Columbia
Bank & Trust Co.
Teen Star Music
1st United Bank
Ride for
Bank of
American Fork
Project Teddy
2014 ICBA
Bank Service
Sponsored by FIS
Honorable Mentions
First Volunteer Bank
Chattanooga, Tenn.
Service program:
Service category:
Community Development
Bank website: www.first
Choice Financial Group
Fargo, N.D.
Service program:
Go Hawaiian for Hospice
Service category:
Community Development
Bank website: www.choice
American National Bank
of Texas
Terrell, Texas
Service program: Sir Save-ALot Adventures
Service category: Financial
Bank website:
Fidelity Bank
Leominster, Mass.
Service program: Community
Service category: Other
Bank website:
Heartland Bank
Gahanna, Ohio
Service program: Money
Matters Financial Summit
Service category: Financial
Bank website: www.heart
Teen Star Music Competition
Striking a
Stirring Chord
A Pennsylvania bank’s music
competition inspires young musicians
and rallies a community
By Beth Mattson-Teig
From left to right, Maria Valles, First Columbia’s marketing director; student
Alexis Seiger, first-place vocalist; student Andrew Miller, second-place
vocalist; student Keeyan Zimmerman, first-place instrumentalist; and Leslie
Chyko, First Columbia’s executive assistant. Front center: Lance Diehl, First
Columbia’s president and CEO.
irst Columbia Bank & Trust Co. is hitting a
melodious high note with its Teen Star service
program. Inspired by the popular “American Idol”
television show, the $625 million-asset community bank in Bloomsburg, Pa., launched its own musical
competition four years ago.
The goal of the program is to support young musicians
while raising money for local school music programs.
“It has really evolved
into something that the
whole community looks
Grand National
forward to,” says Lance
Award Recipient
O. Diehl, the bank’s
First Columbia Bank &
president and CEO.
Trust Co. Bloomsburg, Pa.
Teen Star gives musicians in grades nine
through 12 a venue to
perform publicly and showcase their talents in a supportive setting. The competition is open to students who
live or attend school in Columbia County. Each year the
event draws about 50 students who audition, and the top
12 advance to the finals that are held each year in late
May or early June.
Since the program’s inception in 2011, First Columbia
has given away $20,000 in prize money to contest winners, and has raised an additional $20,000 in ticket
proceeds and donations that has 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.
First Columbia donates all of the program’s prize
money for winning musicians, while 100 percent of the
proceeds from the $5 ticket sales go directly to its local
schools. The money from the ticket sales is donated to
the schools of the finalists. So the more students that a
school advances to the final competition the more ticketsales revenue it receives.
ICBA IndependentBanker
2014 ICBA
Bank Service
Sponsored by FIS
Twelve Teen Star finalists pose for a group shot after the finale. The students will reunite for encore performances at local events throughout the year.
Millville Senior High School has
had students participating in the
program each of the past four years.
Students now excitedly start talking
and planning for the event months
ahead of the curtain finale. This year,
the school proudly claimed winners
in two competitive categories—Alexis
Seiger won first-place vocalist, and
Keeyan Zimmerman was named firstplace instrumentalist for his drum
As a result, the school’s music
department also came out a winner,
receiving $3,126 of the nearly $10,000
that was donated to area schools
from the event. The music department plans to devote some of that
money to buying a new baby grand
piano for the school’s auditorium.
“It is a wonderful thing that they
are doing, and it definitely helps to
fund our program,” says Carolyn
Sweeney, a music teacher at Millville
Senior High School. Especially in the
last few years music programs have
seen greater state budget cutbacks. “I
can speak for all of the music teachers in our area that this has definitely
contributed to us being able to
purchase things that we would not
otherwise be able to,” she says.
ICBA IndependentBanker
When the music started
The idea for Teen Star originated in
2010 when First Columbia was in the
midst of some strategic planning. The
bank recognized that youth needed
to be a bigger focus of its marketing
efforts. At the time, one of the hot
topics in the community was Season
9 of “American Idol.” Pennsylvania native Aaron Kelly was one of
the contestants on the show. The
excitement kept building as Kelly
to support a performer they know.
“The audience has increased steadily
each year,” says Maria Valles, marketing director at First Columbia. Ticket
sales reached 952 for the 2014 finale.
When people first hear about Teen
Star, they tend to think of it as a local
talent competition. The reality is that
it is a very professionally produced
show that is held in the theater at the
local university, Valles adds. The bank
also has expanded the performance to
“I can speak for all of the music teachers in our
area that this has definitely contributed to us
being able to purchase things that we would not
otherwise be able to.”
continued to advance, eventually
making it to the top five.
That sparked the idea for the bank
to create a music competition of its
own that would also benefit local
Today the event continues to
draw a big audience with 800 to 900
people attending the finale. Some of
the fans wear T-shirts or bring signs
September 2014
include the “next generation” of Teen
Star singers that include a choir of
seventh and eighth graders who also
perform at the finals.
The total budget for the program
with prize money and other costs such
as advertising is about $15,000. Of
course, it would be easy for the bank to
just write a check for that amount and
distribute it to the schools. But Teen
2014 ICBA
Bank Service
Sponsored by FIS
Photo top left: First-place vocalist, Alexis Seiger, sings an emotionally charged song. Photo top right: First Columbia Bank and Trust President and CEO Lance Diehl acknowledges
a great musical competition this year with amazing talent. Photo bottom left: Alexis receives first-place trophy and $1,500 in prize money. Photo bottom right: First-place
instrumentalist Keeyan Zimmerman gets the audience cheering and clapping with his electrifying drum solo.
Star does so much more.
More than music
Certainly the Teen Star music competition isn’t the only community
service project for youth in which
First Columbia is engaged. The bank
always does a lot to support local
athletic programs, such as sponsoring
athletic field scoreboards and Little
League teams.
“We wanted to do something
for our youth who are active in the
arts, and this is a great program that
allows us to do that,” Diehl says.
Teen Star has done just that. It
has emerged as First Columbia’s
“signature” annual community
service event. The bank’s employees
ICBA IndependentBanker
donate hundreds of volunteer hours
to the program each year. The sevenperson Teen Star Committee spends
months planning and organizing.
The bank’s employees become “Teen
Star Ambassadors,” decorating their
branches and competing for the
most ticket sales. In addition, nearly
50 bank employees and directors
volunteered this year to help run the
show by serving as ushers, box office
attendants and backstage hands.
During other times of the year
First Columbia promotes Teen Star
in different ways, such as posting
information about upcoming auditions and competition finalists on its
website, in social media posts and
in local media press releases. For
September 2014
example, the bank is using Facebook
throughout the year to post news,
photos and videos of the event.
Finalists are invited to perform at the
local Bloomsburg Fair, and this year
the bank’s float in Millville’s annual
Independence Day parade featured a
Teen Star theme.
“This is a better way to engage the
community and the young people and
to give them a platform to showcase
their talent,” says Valles. “It also
gives us a platform to talk about how
important the performing arts are
and how important it is to support
these programs in our schools.”
Beth Mattson-Teig is a freelance
writer in Minnesota.