INA, Ill. (May 8, 2014) – Emerging as one of the fastest-growing community leaders in Jefferson County, Community First Bank of the Heartland is the newest Rend Lake College Foundation Major Donor to become a Silver level donor with $5,000 in scholarships being awarded this year alone. The bank began donating to RLC in 2010 and has since exceeded the $25,000 mark with 2014 pledges.
Foundation CEO Shawna Manion said Community First Bank established its the first $500 scholarship with RLC in 2010, intended to help a Jefferson County senior who was involved in National Honor Society, Youth and Government, or Future Business Leaders of America continue his or her education. As of the 2012-2013 school year, they have supported students with more than $5,000 in scholarships alone.
“However, in 2013-2014, Community First Bank went above and beyond in supporting local students in their educational endeavors with over $13,000 in donations,” said Manion. “This means that, in a span of one year, Community First Bank has not only reached the RLC Foundation’s Major Donor Bronze level of $10,000 to $24,999; they have practically skipped over it to our Silver level of $25,000 to $49,999. They have also pledged $7,500 for the upcoming year in support of RLC and our students.”
Manion also said donors don’t typically jump from the Bronze to Silver donor levels in one year, but she isn’t surprised bank president Jo Cummins and his wife Rae are among those who have made the generous contribution.
“Jo and Rae Cummins are two of the most positive and generous people I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” she said. “When they established the Community First Bank Scholarship in 2010, we were excited to have them investing in the young people of Jefferson County. Every time I sit down with Jo and Rae, they are eager to help our youth and get involved however they can with our students. They truly understand that the students at RLC are the people of Jefferson County, the current and future workforce, leaders, and citizens. They provide the generous gift of education to so many and that is an incredible testament to their commitment to invest in Jefferson County.”
Community First Bank has two locations in Mt. Vernon, and others in Dix, Ina and Woodlawn. It has grown out of a 100-year-long service to the county under the name First National Bank, originally chartered in Woodlawn in 1906. Though the 2008 name change was important in many ways, one of the most significant was the focus on putting the community first.
“We’re very blessed at Community First Bank and we want to be helpful in any way we can,” said President Jo Cummins. “It’s all about the community and we want to be a lively and engaged part of it.”
Cummins added the scholarships they fund – now 10 annually for $500 each – are easy ways to give back to the community. The bank also supports RLC and its students in other ways, such as donations to the “Pathway to Success” campaign which will redesign the entryway to and façade of the Administration Building on campus.
“Rend Lake College is a very important piece when it comes to educating the work staff that needs to be developed for all businesses, including ours, to be successful in Jefferson County,” said Cummins. “We want to be part of that continued effort to build our community. We can help and we’re proud to do so.”
The bank is also a community leader when it comes to local events and fundraisers, including support in the annual Relay for Life campaign, the American Heart Walk, a Special Olympics at Mt. Vernon Township High School, United Way Color Run, Lifeboat Alliance, YMCA, CASA Healthy Woman, Cedarhurst, Girl Scouts and much more.