Recognizing local health care workers

Published 6:23 am Friday, January 15, 2021

Bank buys meals from area restaurants to thank health care workers

An area bank is paying it forward to health care workers with a new initiative that in turn supports local restaurants. 

Arcadian Bank, formerly known as Farmers State Bank, on Thursday delivered meal vouchers for Mayo Clinic Health System employees at the Albert Lea campus. 

Susie Miller, vice president and chief deposit officer at the bank, said the bank purchased 100 meals each from 112 on Broadway, B&B Cafe, Diana’s Diner, Elbow Room, Grandma’s Kitchen, Casa Zamora’s, Nancy’s Cafe and TB3s. 

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“It’s a great way to give back to our health care workers who are on the front lines every day,” Miller said. 

She said the idea originated with a similar idea she had heard about through her daughter’s church. She brought the idea back to her co-workers at the bank through the organization’s REACH program, and they decided to move forward.

They then reached out to Kathy Leidal with Mayo Clinic Health System. At first they discussed bringing in meals, but then the idea shifted to giving the employees vouchers instead. Miller said the hope was that when these health care workers redeem their voucher, they may also purchase other meals for additional family members at the same time and further benefit businesses as well. 

“It’s recognizing the health care workers and thanking them for all they do,” she said. 

The bank next has plans to provide meals from additional locally owned restaurants for the staff at nursing homes, Freeborn County Public Health, hospice, Prairie Senior Cottages, MercyOne and the Veterans Affairs Clinic in the community — another estimated 600 employees. 

Abby Stoa, assistant vice president of administration with the bank, said the bank has always had a focus on the communities it serves and on striving to make a difference. 

“We’ve always taken pride in that because we’re a local community bank,” Stoa said. 

She said with the growth seen at the bank recently, she thought it would be nice to take the community focus to another level and have a devoted group of employees who coordinate various community outreach projects. These employees make up what is now known as the bank’s REACH team to do just that. The meal vouchers are the team’s first big initiative, Stoa said. 

Miller said the restaurants on the receiving end have been very appreciative as well — some were shocked to get a phone call about the idea. 

“It’s been fun to reach out to them,” she said. “It’s been fun to hear their reactions and the appreciation we’re getting from them.” 

The women said they feel fortunate to work for an organization that encourages community involvement, empowers staff and gives them the freedom to come up with initiatives like this one.

The bank also recently had a Shop Local Campaign, in which each week it picked a locally owned business, purchased $100 in gift cards from that business and then showcased the business in a short video on Facebook. People who commented on the post had their names entered into a drawing for the gift cards. They highlighted 21 businesses in this way over the course of the summer. 

Leidal said she and others at the health system are appreciative of Arcadian Bank’s donation. 

Kristin Johnson, vice chairman of administration for Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, said the donation has been one of the largest recognitions of employees during the pandemic, in addition to support from the Naeve Foundation. 

“It’s not only how great these individuals feel for being recognized but also for the other businesses,” Johnson said. “It’s been a really tough, tough year and also through the holiday season, it just makes you feel good.”

Leidal and Johnson thanked the bank not only for recognizing the Mayo employees but also for the impact the effort has on the community.