Service to Our Community

There’s no doubt that Farm Credit is an important part of the agricultural community. We provide credit for farmers and rural homeowners, and we do it whether the times are good or bad.

But we’re also a part of the broader, local community as well. Our employees are each allowed to take one day of paid leave a year to donate our time to a worthy cause. I know that many of our employees donate much more than one day to causes, both in their backyards and in other communities (some of our employees have traveled to other states and sometimes other countries to help rebuild communities!)

In economic times like these, charitable groups in every community are in need of extra help. Donations dry up. People spend more time working and less time donating their time. It’s sad, but when organizations need the most help, they often get the least.

I think I’ve come up with a plan to help our community, and to have some fun while doing it.

This year, instead of our usual employee appreciation event in Ocean City, I’ve asked our planning team to do something a little unusual: I’ve asked them to coordinate a day of association-wide volunteerism.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we each have to search out an individual volunteer activity. One of the things I’ve liked best about the event in Ocean City is the time that our employees all spent together—either in smaller groups during the day, or as a full group at dinner. So that aspect of the event isn’t going to change.
What will change is the venue, and the group activities.

For several years, employees have asked us to investigate locations other than Ocean City. And we’ve done that. To be perfectly blunt, the price of other areas was just too high.

This year, however, given the slow tourism economy, we have managed to get a great price at Baltimore’s Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel, which is just about one block from the Harbor. We’ve gotten a great rate both for the rooms (which are now blocked off for October 9, our usual day), and for dinner.

While we still plan a nice dinner for all our employees and their spouses (or guests), and we’ll still have our annual awards program later in the evening, what will change is our day-time activities.

I’ve asked our planning team to look into local volunteer projects in the Baltimore area, where we can work in small groups of about 20 people (more or less—we’re still in the very early stages of this). I know Baltimore may not be your community, but it is within our footprint, and I think we have a great opportunity to make a difference to several organizations during the day. As I said, we’re still working on the details for this, but I think it will be a fun and rewarding day (and, long term, I would love it if we could move this event around in the future and help a different community every year). Those employees who really prefer free time will still be able to make that choice.

After we spend some time helping others, we’ll have a short overview of the day (I’m betting that we’ll have some fun stories to share about our experiences), a dinner, and our annual employee awards. After dinner, our employees will be on their own to either mingle with friends or hit the downtown (I’m told there are several nearby locations for folks who want to hit the dance floor hard).

This change does not reflect any lack of appreciation for our employees as a team, and as individuals. In fact, it shows my deep appreciation of all our staff’s skills and commitment—I know they make a difference to our borrowers every day, and I’m excited about the opportunity to make a difference to local charities as well.

We’re still working on details, and will know more in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I hope our employees are prepared to be appreciated in a whole new way.

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