For Connie Payne, it all started with a hammer. And a husband with a passion for helping people.
Payne serves on the board of Hearts in Hands, a faith-based organization in Birmingham, Alabama, that provides home repairs for low-income community members. But her connection to the nonprofit started with a simple desire to help people in need.
Payne, a product team manager for Regions Treasury Management, has always been involved in the community through programs associated with her church. After she married 11 years ago, she and her husband, Carl, wanted to find a cause they could work on together.
I love talking to people and hearing their stories. It can be difficult because so many people are in need, and you just wish you could help everyone, but it’s a good feeling to know you’re making a difference.Connie Payne, product team manager for Regions Treasury Management
Through friends they found Hearts in Hands. Payne started out as a volunteer, helping to build wheelchair ramps, install handrails and doing minor plumbing and other repairs, but gradually began taking on more leadership and administrative roles with the organization.
“I just wanted to use my gifts to do more,” Payne said. With an accounting degree and an MBA, along with more than 39 years of banking experience, she has many financial and organizational skills to share. In addition to serving as secretary/treasurer of the board, she still finds time to work directly with clients, by taking the initial repair requests from homeowners.
“I love talking to people and hearing their stories,” she said. “It can be difficult because so many people are in need, and you just wish you could help everyone, but it’s a good feeling to know you’re making a difference.”
Many of their clients are elderly or people with disabilities and most do not have homeowners’ insurance. Hearts in Hands performed 300 home repair projects last year and installed 50 wheelchair ramps.
“Being a part of a nonprofit board is a different kind of community service,” said Wendi Boyen, head of Community Advocacy and Financial Wellness at Regions. “It’s not like making a financial gift or participating in a volunteer project. It’s a long-term commitment to make a difference in the community and support a cause you’re passionate about.”
Board members provide oversight, financial guidance and strategic planning to ensure the success of nonprofits, which strengthens our communities.
Board service is also a good way to enhance personal and professional development. Individuals who serve on a board have the opportunity to cultivate new skill sets and expand their network of peers, professionals, community leaders, and thought leaders, which provides new avenues for development, outreach, influence, and mentorship.
At Regions, board service is an important component of the Making Life Better Institute, the bank’s community engagement strategy that also includes volunteerism, financial education and CDFI and MDI support.
It’s not like making a financial gift or participating in a volunteer project – it’s a long-term commitment to make a difference in the community and support a cause you’re passionate about.Wendi Boyen, head of Community Advocacy and Financial Wellness at Regions
Currently around 534 Regions associates serve on boards in communities throughout the bank’s footprint. Some associates’ board service is related to their work at the bank and many other associates provide leadership to organizations they care about personally.
Dennise Berger, branch manager of the Manatee Avenue Branch in Bradenton, Florida, also has a heart for service and a passion to lead.
“I grew up in the community I live in, and as a youth was instilled with the value of community service and giving back,” Berger said. And that drive to serve stayed with her as she began her banking career.
“I believe that we as bankers have a responsibility to give back to the communities that we serve to help them grow and thrive. If they are growing and thriving, so will we. And organizations and boards love to have bankers supporting their organizations,” she adds.
Berger has served on boards of several civic and nonprofit organizations, including Bradenton Rotary Foundation, Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Manatee Technical College and DeMolay Florida, an organization committed to developing and inspiring leadership, team building, and networking for young men.
Like Payne, Berger enjoys applying her specific skills and talents to provide leadership to these organizations and is gratified by their impact to the community.
“I am a member and past president of the Rotary Club. Every year we raise money to award grants to local organizations. We fund youth programs that help youth, the homeless population and also seniors. I’m really proud to lend my talents to help create positive outcomes for my community.”
Boyen has some advice for anyone interested in serving on a board. “First, think about the types of organizations that appeal to you and do some research on the nonprofits and their board structure,” she said.
If it’s in your heart to help people, I’d advise anyone to take a leadership role in an organization. Find your niche or your passion – or just do what I did and let your passion find you.Connie Payne, product team manager for Regions Treasury Management
Boyen also suggests volunteering with the organization to get some hands-on experience with the work they do, and then connecting with a board member to let them know you’re interested in a leadership position.
To help associates learn more about serving on a nonprofit board, Regions recently launched a training course to provide information and insight on board service, as part of its Degreed learning platform.
“If it’s in your heart to help people, I’d advise anyone to take a leadership role in an organization,” Payne said. “Find your niche or your passion – or just do what I did and let your passion find you.”