MASON CITY | Applause filled the Community Room at First Citizens Bank in Mason City Tuesday afternoon as Gov. Kim Reynolds recognized the business for its "pretty impressive" volunteerism.
For the third consecutive year, First Citizens Bank won 2018 Give Back Iowa Volunteer Challenge in the small-business category, a campaign in which businesses encourage their employees to volunteer and log their hours during an eight-week period.
“When it comes to the annual Give Back challenge, First Citizens Bank is definitely one of our rock stars,” Reynolds said to a room of nearly 30 bank employees and local elected officials who gathered for the recognition ceremony.
The bank – and its 205 Iowa employees – clocked 2,335.9 volunteer hours, or 11.39 per person, between April 1 and May 31, which is about 785 hours more than last year.
“First Citizens Bank is certainly proud to support our employee efforts in volunteering with local not-for profit organizations during their free time,” said O. Jay Thomson, First Citizens Financial Corp. chairman. “I’m proud of all our employees.”
First Citizens Bank has branch locations in Charles City, Clarion, Kanawha, Latimer, Mason City, New Hampton, Osage and Mora, Minnesota.
The bank was among 56 organizations representing nearly 54,000 employees in the state participating in the 2018 Give Back Iowa Challenge and logged more than 83,000 volunteer hours – a 39 percent increase over last year and a new record.
Those volunteer hours, Reynolds said, are valued at nearly $2 million.
“It’s really important that we recognize not only the employers for giving their employees the opportunity to do that, but also say great job to all their employees out there making a difference,” she said.
At the ceremony, it was revealed that First Citizens Bank will not compete in the 2019 challenge but its employees will continue to volunteer in the communities in which they live and work.
Reynolds said she hopes the bank’s success will encourage other businesses to take on the challenge.
“You’re kind of laying down the gauntlet and saying, ‘OK, come on, it’s time for you to step up, and this is your opportunity to be recognized as well,’ so I think that’s admirable,” she said.
Employers that participated in the 2018 challenge were divided into four categories based on the number of employees. The winners were selected by the highest average number of volunteer hours per person.
Honorable mention in the small-business category was Clear Lake Bank & Trust Company of Clear Lake.
After the ceremony, Reynolds said she feels good about her campaign for governor. She is running against Democratic nominee Fred Hubbell.
“I think Iowans feel good about the direction the state is going,” she said. “We are just getting started, so we know there’s a lot of work to do but that’s what fires me up.
“When I think about building on the successes we’ve had over the last couple years and really continuing Iowa forward, that’s what energizes me.”
A new e-poll by Emerson College said Hubbell leads Reynolds by a margin of 36 percent to 31 percent. The poll said 7 percent favored someone else and 26 percent were undecided.