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Making Life Great Grants

Giving Back to the Communities We Serve

Great Western Bank has always believed in doing the right thing and putting the customer first. These values are imbedded within our corporate philosophy. We know that in order to be successful as a company our communities must also thrive. That is why Great Western Bank is committed to Making Life Great and giving back to help those in need.

We’ve been helping out our neighbors throughout our 80-year history, but in 2016 we introduced a new platform for giving back to the communities we serve. True to our mission, we named this initiative Making Life Great Grants. These corporate-wide donations will be awarded on a quarterly basis to deserving organizations within our nine-state footprint.

Each community is unique. We want to play a key role in shaping our communities. What do they need to be successful? Is it stable housing, an educated workforce, the revitalization of a key neighborhood? This October we awarded our first ever Making Life Great Grants. Read what our grant recipients had to say about this important community partnership.

Mount Ayr Community Schools

Mount Ayr Elementary School

(Left to right: Deb Vennink, Branch Manager; Chris Elwood, MACS Elementary Principal; Jodie Geist, MACS Grant Writer; Lucas Smith, Junior Banker; Sandy Pierschbacher, Market President)

Chris Elwood, Elementary Principal, Mount Ayr Community Schools:

The Mount Ayr Community School District is planning on renovating the elementary playground before the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

The project will include:

  • Getting rid of old equipment
  • Getting rid of the wood chips
  • Moving the remaining equipment to different locations on the playground.
  • Replacing the wood chips with rubber tile
  • Purchasing new equipment to add to the playground.

“Mount Ayr Community Schools would like to thank Great Western Bank for helping us with our goal of providing students of Mount Ayr Elementary and families of Mount Ayr with a playground they can be proud of. This generous grant from Great Western Bank will help Mount Ayr in ways beyond providing the obvious. It not only provides a safe place for our children to play, it also shows the community cares and is invested in our future.”

Hawthorn Hill

Hawthorn Hill Testimonial
(Left to right: Julie Kellner, VP, Treasury Services; Tim Shanahan, Executive Director Hawthorn Hill; Sergio Hernandez, Program Manager, The Home Connection; Bill Fajen, Group President)

Tim Shanahan, Executive Director Hawthorn Hill:

“Hawthorn Hill is very appreciative for the $10,000 grant from Great Western Bank’s Making Life Great Grant Program.The grant will be used for Hawthorn Hill’s The Home Connection program. The funding from Great Western Bank will be used towards the renovation of a dilapidated 6-plex housing unit that has 1-bedroom units that will be converted into three 2-bedroom units that will provide housing for homeless single mothers with 1 to 2 children. The new multifamily property will allow The Home Connection to serve additional families and help them become self-reliant.

“Unfortunately, family homelessness is a growing problem in the Des Moines metro area, and support from Great Western Bank allows The Home Connection program to serve more families that need a helping hand. We believe it is critical to help the families become stable and work towards self-sufficiency”

The Home Connection program has been providing supportive housing for homeless families and their children for 30 years; since 1986. During the 30 years The Home Connection has been assisting homeless families; more than 700 families have been served.

The Home Connection provides affordable housing and supportive services to assist homeless families with obtaining and retaining permanent housing and achieving financial independence through employment, job training and education. The families that come to The Home Connection for help are not only homeless and very low income, but also have multiple barriers that keep them from obtaining and retaining housing such as poor rental history and evictions; unemployed or underemployed; lack of education and job skills; criminal record; history of suffering from domestic abuse; past substance abuse; etc.

United Way of Weld County 

Weld County Testimonial

(Left to Right: Bob Hinderaker, GWB Business Banker and Chair of the Weld’s Way Home Committee; Jeannine Truswell, President & CEO of United Way of Weld County; 
Bryan Guest, Business Banking Manager, and Chair Elect of the United Way of Weld County; Cassy Westmoreland, Community Impact Vista)

Jeannine Truswell, President & CEO of United Way of Weld County:

In recent years individuals and families in Weld County, Colorado, have been consistently turned away from local shelters to continue sleeping in places not suitable for human habitation, such as in a car or under a bridge. Despite the best efforts of local shelters, there is not enough ongoing shelter capacity; the number of people experiencing homelessness has been increasing. This creates an emergency and deadly situation during cold weather months.

Since 2011, United Way of Weld County has convened the Weld Homeless Coalition, a diverse group of organizations and people working to prevent and alleviate homelessness. Since its founding, the Coalition has operated a cold weather shelter, utilizing space at area nonprofits and hotel vouchers to get homeless folks out of the cold and into a warm bed at night.

“With this generous contribution from Great Western Bank, United Way of Weld County will lead the Weld Homeless Coalition in offering this safety net resource again from October 2016 to April 2017. The 2016-2017 cold weather shelter plans include a dedicated space for single homeless men and the use of hotel vouchers for homeless women and families. United Way of Weld County is proud to partner with Great Western Bank to enhance the quality of life in Weld County.”


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Great Western Bank awards United Way of Larimer County, Colorado a grant

Making Life Great Grants December 2018

Great Western Bank awarded Hope Spoke of Lincoln, United Way of Larimer County, Swerve Outreach of Altoona, Shelter House of Iowa City and Papillion Community Foundation a grant December 2018.