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Sioux Falls Bank Pays It Forward

January 14, 2011, 9:55 PM by Perry Groten

Sioux Falls Bank Pays It Forward
SIOUX FALLS, SD - A Sioux Falls bank knows all about the value of paying it forward, with interest. First National's milestone has turned into a stepping stone for a woman coping with MS.

First National Bank has been firmly invested in the Sioux Falls economy and the community for 125 years.

"We really wanted our 125th anniversary celebration to reflect our values," Executive Vice President Stephanie Gongopoulos said.

To that end, First National gave each of its employees $125 dollars. They, in turn, had to pay the money forward, to help someone in need.

"Really, the only rule was that they could not give it to an employee or another employee's family member," Gongopoulos said.

So many people here at the bank have been personally impacted by Multiple Sclerosis, so they wanted to spend their money helping an MS patient.

"We have people here whose mothers have MS, somebody with a spouse who has MS. People's sisters, basically everybody knows somebody with MS here at the bank," Administrative Assistant Lori Gulbrandson said.

$1,800 of the bank's anniversary bonus is going to a remodeling project at the home of Melissa Williams who was diagnosed with MS in 2007.

"It was a Godsend," Williams said.

Williams, who volunteers at the MS Society office in Sioux Falls, struggles to go into her basement to do laundry. So the laundry room will be moved upstairs.

"We had just bought the house and knew that we were going to have to do those renovations and to find out that they could be paid for, wonderful," Williams said.

A 125-year tradition of helping others is the best possible anniversary gift. You can bank on that.

"Once you start making money for something, and are able to help people, it's the best feeling in the world," Gulbrandson said.

Some of the First National employees added to their $125 total by donating their own money. More than 100 organizations were helped out by the bank's anniversary donations, including South Dakota Honor Flight.

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