HENDRICKS - When First Security Bank-Hendricks owner Matt Amundson challenged his employees to find new ways to connect with community members, the workers came up with the idea of raising cancer awareness.
The concept only seemed natural, they said, since two of their own had personally battled with the disease.
Now, once a month, the bank workers celebrate the message of hope by offering specially-made and color-coded cookies. They've been offering cookies, coffee and fellowship on the first Friday of every month since December.
Photo by Jenny Kirk
First Security Bank-Hendricks employees Vicki Ovall, left, Bernadette Brown, Joyce Molascon, Laurie Pavek, Karrie Campbell and Sheryl Hanson take a moment to pose next to their March cancer awareness display. Missing from the photo are Barb VanEck, Kim Amundson and bank owner Matt Amundson.
"I had seen these cookies in a magazine and I brought it up to the president of the bank because I thought it looked like a great idea," said employee Vicki Ovall. "Matt is always looking for different ways to help out the community. It raises awareness."
In March, workers chose to promote awareness of bladder cancer (yellow).
"We picked out our different cancers to sponsor each month," Ovall said. "We went through the colors and picked out the most common cancers. We're doing it for a year."
The community has been very accepting of the once-a-month activity, employees said.
"The community enjoys it," Ovall said. "To get a cookie in a Norwegian community is a good thing. They enjoy a good cookie. It promotes the bank and raises money for cancer, too. They've been very supportive."
Along with Matt Amundson and his wife Kim, who owns an adjoining insurance agency in the Hendricks building, the employees chose to bring awareness to ovarian cancer (teal green) for the first month, in December, in honor of employee Sheryl Hanson and others who have battled ovarian cancer.
"We've had two girls here that have gone through cancer," Ovall said. "And, most, or all of us have had family members who have gone through some kind of cancer."
Laurie Pavek also battled the all-too-familiar disease. During her fight, Pavek received a stem cell transplant. Employee Karrie Campbell said that it seemed unreal that two of the seven employees at the bank had personally been affected by cancer.
"A couple of years back, Laurie had a real hard fight with multiple myeloma, which affects everything," Campbell said. "But she's doing good now. Sheryl's was more recent and ended last year. The community kind of banded together, too, to raise money for her. It affected the whole town."
The bank employees have been taking turns making ribbon-shaped cookies. In April, Campbell will take her turn.
"We all kind of take turns," Campbell said. "It'll be my turn next month. It'll be melanoma, which is black. That will be interesting."
Hanson made the yellow ribbon cookies for the March celebration. The group chose to bring awareness to leukemia (orange) in January and to prostate cancer (light blue) in February.
"The other thing is, it puts out a reminder to men to get checked," Ovall said. "It's good for awareness."
In May, lung cancer (clear) awareness will be the focus, while June will be multiple myeloma (burgundy).
Eighty-five-year-old Allen Johnson was among a number of community members who came in during the March event. Like others, Johnson, who suffered from colon cancer, appreciated the gesture put forth by the bank employees.
"I had cancer three years ago," Johnson said. "But by-golly, I'm still kicking. It was found in time."
July will be colon cancer (royal blue) awareness month at the bank, followed by cervical cancer (teal and white) in August, liver cancer (emerald green) in September, breast cancer (pink) in October and lymphoma (lime green) in November.
While the cookies and coffee are free, donations are welcome and will be sent to the American Cancer Society.
"Anyone can come into the bank and it's a free-will donation," Ovall said. "The bank also matches 100 percent of the donations for this. We'll send money in designated to those cancers."
Ovall also made up colored ribbons for all the employees to wear, corresponding with each month's focus. Last month, a local business, Don's Bakery, owned by Jeff and Kathy Robbins, also decided to support the cause by donating a ribbon-shaped cake made out of cupcakes.
"We've decided every month to donate the cake from the bakery," Campbell said. "We draw at the end of the day and give it away."
Anyone can sign up for the cake drawing, Ovall said.
"There must be two dozen frosted cupcakes," Ovall said. "The entire box looks like one big ribbon. The bakery wanted to get the word out there that they do cakes."
Ovall said several people have asked when the next cancer awareness celebration is going to be.
"It's been a cool thing, to promote the bank, the community and cancer awareness," Ovall said.