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Making Life Great Grants September 2019

Making Life Great Grants

Coming Together to Create Stronger Communities

Great Western Bank is committed to giving back and recently awarded another round of Making Life Great grants to commendable non-profit organizations within our nine-state footprint. We are proud to support organizations that are important to our communities and that align with our values. Read what our recent recipients had to say:


YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties

Thank you to Great Western Bank for your Making Life Great grant in support of YMCA Child Care Scholarships through our Partner of Youth Annual Campaign. Because of you, students and their families will have access to the high-quality learning environment they need to succeed.

Last December, Arin Wuraola was faced with several major life changes – both exciting and also challenging. She was about to start a new job, but first needed to find affordable child care for her growing family including then three-year-old, Zoe, and her brand-new baby twins. Arin wanted to send Zoe to the YMCA because of its’ reputable child care programs, but was worried about being able to afford it.

By receiving financial assistance through the YMCA’s Partner of Youth Annual Campaign, Zoe was able to start attending the YMCA last January. Now, Zoe gets to learn and grow alongside a classroom of peers, receiving quality foundational education that will give her the tools she’ll need to succeed in school.

Since enrolling, Arin has seen a great change in Zoe’s ability to learn new skills, make friends, be comfortable around adults, and she has become a caring big sister to her twin siblings.

Zoe has taken full advantage of the other programs offered at the YMCA as well – being a consistent presence at swimming lessons at the Fercho YMCA, and music lessons in her classroom. As her mother, Arin, says, “We really appreciate the kind of support we have received from the YMCA. We are thankful for all the great teachers and friends we have made while attending.”

Through grant dollars from Great Western Bank that will provide income-based scholarships for YMCA childcare programs, children in our community, like Zoe, will be able to participate in programs that every child should have access to. Through these programs, children learn life lessons and get to be part of a community that encourages them in making good life choices. In return, parents are also freed up to remain in the workforce, allowing them to continue to provide for their family’s financial needs. Thank you to Great Western Bank for helping to provide access to a learning environment these students and their families need to succeed and be prepared for Kindergarten and beyond!


St. Francis House, Sioux Falls

The St. Francis House is very grateful for our partnership with Great Western Bank. This support has allowed us to grow our agency not only by becoming a strong financial non-profit, but to have the guidance and support to build our Homelessness to Hope Capital Campaign to build a new home for our guests.

The St. Francis House believes in supporting a home environment for each of our guests, but they are accountable for meeting the requirements of their programs. Initially, our guests are in a seven day program which requires them to obtain employment while encouraging their self-worth. After the seven days, they are moved to the Genesis Program where they meet regularly with our Program Coordinator. These meetings focus on debt management, personal goals, and maintaining employment with emphasis in career interests and capabilities. Once they have lived in our home for 4 months, they move to the Hope Program- a transitional curriculum. While in this program, our guests then have the opportunity to gain independence, reach their personal goals and make a seamless transition to the outside world which increases the likelihood of long term independence. The ability to receive your gift provides a nice home for our guests, allows them to become successful.


Youth and Family Services

Youth & Family Services is proud to partner with Great Western Bank in meeting the needs of our community’s most vulnerable children. Together we are providing opportunities that encourage children to dream bigger and to consider all possibilities, regardless of the obstacles and challenges that they face.

Great Western Bank is recognized as a leader in our community for their efforts in “Making Life Great”. Youth & Family Services is deeply grateful for their generosity and support that improves the quality of life for low-to-moderate income children and their families within our community by providing needed services. It is with sincere thanks that we accept Great Western Bank’s grant award of $9,500.

These funds will support our Facility Expansion project that is designed to meet the growing demand for our programs and services, including advocacy, child care, education, mentoring, counseling, nutrition, parent engagement, and prevention services. Many of the youth served are dealing with tough issues such as poverty, homelessness, obesity, academic struggles, abuse, violence, and food insecurity. Great Western Bank’s investment ensures that 2,100 additional children will be nurtured, cared for, and supported.


Thrive Transformation at Work

Great Western Bank’s investment in Thrive will help more people experience hope through the transformative power of work. Thrive members are actively seeking to overcome barriers and are working their way to self-sufficiency through employment. The funds received from the Making Life Great grant will allow us to continue to expand where we offer programming and how many people we are able to serve.


Food Fort of Lincoln, NE

Food Fort would like to thank Great Western Bank for partnering with us in the gift of the $3,000 Make Life Great Grant. We will use these funds to continue to have an impact on the under resourced youth here in Lincoln Nebraska. Bringing a "family dinner table" into neighborhoods where family dinner tables are lacking, and providing a nutritious home cooked meal each week for an average of 170 youth each week. What a huge blessing these youth continue to have on myself and our team and with these funds we will seek not simply to bring resources to these communities, but to continue to become a part of the communities living along side of them.


Mitchell Area Safehouse

The support of Great Western Bank allows the Mitchell Area Safehouse to continue to provide safe and empowering environment for women and children of the Mitchell area and surrounding eight counties. Ashley Hobbs, Development Director, stated, “It is such an honor to be a recipient of the Making Life Great grant. Our goal is to build a safe community for women and children to help them get through some tough times and get back on their feet. This partnership with Great Western Bank has allowed us to do that and we are grateful.” The Mitchell Area Safehouse is a shelter and provides services of advocacy, education, and family support services.


Junior Achievement of Eastern IA

The generous donation from the Great Western Bank Foundation will provide 8,933 Waterloo Community School District students with quality Junior Achievement programs and curriculum. Together, we will teach these students the importance of earning, saving and spending money wisely and how career choice impacts finances. Thank you for investing in our future workforce.


United Inner City Services

Branch Managers Ashlee Carroll and Hollis Joslin presented a Making Life Great Grant to United Inner City Services. The grant of $5,000 will go towards helping empower youth through early childhood education. At UICS, no child is too young to be a student. With city statistics of a 33% readiness rate when entering into kindergarten, students who come through this program are entering with a 90%+ readiness rate.


Avera McKennan Foundation

The funds received from the Making Life Great grant will support the Farm and Rural Stress Services offered at Avera. Avera offers the Farm and Rural Stress Hotline for farmers and ranchers to talk with skilled, compassionate mental health professionals to help navigate symptoms such as anxiety and depression. The hotline was developed to remove financial barriers that otherwise may affect the decision to seek help or treatment. “This has been an unusually stressful year for the agricultural community. The combination of poor weather conditions and trade turmoil has made things difficult for our farmers and ranchers this past year. Mental health care in our rural population is what we specialize in and we want our agriculture friends to know that we are here for them” said Matthew Stanley, DO and Clinical Vice President for Behavioral Health Services.


Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach in Lincoln, NE

Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach in Lincoln, Nebraska welcomes anyone to walk through their open doors and get a hot meal two times a day, every day of the year. Annually Matt Talbot provides more than 110,000 meals to individuals and families who are currently experiencing homelessness or who are near homeless. Another important outcome of the Hunger Relief Program is that while individuals are on-site they can learn about the other prevention services available at Matt Talbot such as case management, life skills training, housing, shower & laundry services and other help with basic and emergency needs. It is a safe and welcoming place where those who struggle can find respite, peace and eventually hope.

Grant County Christian Service Council

The funds we received from Great Western Bank helped support our Back to School Event. This event assist low income families by providing necessary items for back to school. We were able to help 133 kids this year. The Back to school event provides supplies for the students. They also receive a voucher to purchase clothing at the local Thrift Store. We also provide haircut vouchers as well as a voucher for socks, shoes, and underwear.


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