Giving back: First Security helping meet community’s needs

by Sonja J. Keith

Not only is First Security Bank aware of the community’s needs in Faulkner County, associates are working diligently to help others – from grilling hamburgers at events to participating in Jeans Day fundraisers.

The bank’s community involvement falls under contributions, which are the responsibility of the marketing department. Margaret Smith, senior vice president for marketing, oversees the department and explained that because they are aware of financial support from the bank, they are familiar with the needs of different organizations.


To reflect the bank’s philanthropic efforts, the Conway market introduced “Give Back Even Better” for its approximately 120 employees in Faulkner County and in Clinton in 2014. The program recognizes employees and the hours they volunteer annually. At the end of the year, the bank recognizes the employee who volunteered the most hours and donates to the non-profit of their choice in their name. On average, employees log about 1,500 volunteer hours annually which benefit about 60 different non-profits.

“Give Back Even Better” reflects the corporation’s “Bank Better” program which was focused on the customer experience and service, and was used in advertising. “In thinking about what we had done in the past years, we said, ‘Why don’t we make that a part of ‘Bank Better,’ that we would give back even better.”

In addition to the recognition program, which encourages volunteerism, bank employees undertake a service project around Christmas. “We pick a non-profit organization or a need for our focus. We might have some Jeans Days that would raise money to purchase items that a non-profit might need. Or, it might have some volunteering opportunities with that organization or collecting items that we would deliver to them.”

For example, the bank was made aware of some needs that the Children’s Advocacy Alliance had because of a donation request. “In visiting with them, we found out what a dire need they were in for items for children who come in to their services,” she said, adding that a handful of employees toured the agency and learned about its mission. The bank collected and donated over 1,000 items to the organization, from snacks and blankets to stuffed animals and books.

The bank has also helped food pantries at area schools by raising money to purchase items and collecting items in those communities. Bankers have helped local non-profits, including the Faulkner County Day School, Boys and Girls Club, Help for Abuse Victims in Emergency Need (HAVEN), the Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas, Conway Cradle Care, Renewal Ranch, the Ola and John Hawks Senior Wellness Center and Bethlehem House. They also supported Operation Christmas Child, the Salvation Army and Project Angel Tree.

Participating in the Dazzler awards presentation: Dot Welch (associate director of the Conway Regional Health Foundation and Conway Regional Women’s Council) Dazzle Daze co-chairman Amy Reed, Shannon Howland (Arvest Bank), Dazzler winner Stefanie Vann (First Security Bank), Linda Moore (Bank of the Ozarks), Dazzle Daze co-chairman Pam Sims and Lori Ross (chief development officer and corporate director of marketing/ foundation for Conway Regional Health System). 

Margaret points out that individuals have also been assisted. She said one of the most unique community service projects involved a woman who was supporting an orphanage in Russia and wanted to create a library for the children. “We shipped over a hundred books to her in Russia.”

“Our employees as a whole participate in giving to our community throughout the year with Jeans Days and donation efforts, often just as a need arises,” Margaret said.

As a corporation, First Security Bank presents Second Mile Service Awards to employees. The award recipients are nominated by their co-workers in recognition of service. 

One of the recipients was recognized for the help and support provided to a customer who was in an abusive situation and had lost her job. “She was living in her car in the Walmart parking lot.”

When the bank employee found out, she enlisted the help of her co-workers to find the woman a place to live, collected money for rent, helped with furniture and provided clothes for a new job.

“It was just amazing to me that they made the effort to do that.”

While senior leadership supports community service and volunteerism, the spirit of giving permeates the organization, according to Margaret. “Our employees just have a big heart,” she said. “It’s like they look for ways they can help. They have a really giving spirit.”