Community & Events
Thank you to everyone who joined us at our Trunk or Treat event in Melrose!!!
It ended up being a beautiful evening (despite the morning SNOW & cold temps!!)!! So many adorable (we mean SCARY!) smiling faces, spooky costumes, laughter, shreeks ... and all amongst such gracious community members HOSTING their fabulous trunks!!
THANK YOU AGAIN, EVERYONE, SO MUCH FUN!!
Look for photos coming soon on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BlackRiverCountryBank!!
Falls Florist & Greenhouse Awarded $25,000 Community First® Accelerate Grant through Black River Country Bank’s Partnership with Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
For Immediate Release: The Community First® Accelerate Grants for Small Business (“Accelerate Grants”) provides grants to support the growth and development of small businesses and help in creating economic opportunity in communities served by Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLBank Chicago). Black River Country Bank (BRCB) has been an FHLBank Chicago Member since 1994. As a member institution, BRCB was able to nominate two eligible local small businesses via applications to receive grants of up to $25,000. To qualify, the small business must be a for-profit entity, be headquartered in either Illinois or Wisconsin, have been established under its current ownership for at least 12 months prior to September 30, 2022, and have annual gross revenue of $1 million or less. The small businesses needed to complete and submit an application, along with required supporting documentation in partnership with BRCB.
FHLBank Chicago received over 160 applications to the 2022 Accelerate Grants program. Submitted by 104 members, these applications requested a total of $3.9 million in grant funds.
FHLBank Chicago was pleased to announce $784,000 in awards to 32 small businesses. By helping individual businesses grow and thrive, FHLBank Chicago supports economic opportunity in members’ communities.
Dana Rave, Owner of Falls Florist & Greenhouse, stated “We are extremely grateful that our hometown bank, BRCB is always keeping our business in the forefront of their minds, on a daily basis, and connecting us to resources to be successful. Thank you to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago for believing in us and supporting small rural businesses.”
Bob Becker, President of Black River Country Bank, added “Our partnership with FHLBank Chicago continues to prove to be a valuable asset to the bank and the community. The FHLBank Chicago continues to find ways to help us impact a diverse community of people, businesses, and organizations. In the last 2 years, we’ve been delighted to be able to help grant over $60,000 to deserving community members. Those served by these various grants have ranged from individuals seeking mental and behavioral health assistance for meeting their daily needs, mental health education & outreach, to local emergency management unit needs, struggling neighbors & businesses in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, to entrepreneurs seeking to expand and grow their business despite a recovering economy. Dana is continuing the wonderful history of Falls Florist in our community, while at the same time bringing some new and exciting twists with her business model. It is our pleasure to help entrepreneurs make their vision come true and we appreciate FHLBank Chicago’s help in doing that.”
Pictured (l to r) Bob Becker, President of Black River Country Bank; Mike & Dana Rave of Falls Florist & Greenhouse; and Kim Torres of BRCB.
For Immediate Release: December 14, 2020
Black River Country Bank through Partnership with Federal Home Loan Bank Chicago Grants $15,000 Targeted Impact Funds to Jackson County Department of Health & Human Services
Jessica Stinson, Behavioral Health Manager for Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services (JCDHHS), was “very excited and couldn’t wait to start planning” upon hearing the news they were going to be receiving a $15,000 grant from Black River Country Bank through a partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank Chicago (FHLBank Chicago) Targeted Impact Fund (TIF). As the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact continue to ravage communities, some populations have been disproportionately affected by this crisis, including Black, Latino, Native American, elderly, rural, and low- and moderate-income communities. Therefore, in August 2020, FHLBank Chicago announced the creation of the Targeted Impact Fund (it’s second major grant program created during the Covid-19 crisis; see more below for previous grants awarded). The Targeted Impact Fund is a $14 million grant program where member institutions, like Black River Country Bank in Black River Falls and Melrose, could apply for a grant through the Targeted Impact Fund on behalf of their selected beneficiaries (who BRCB identified at the time of application). FHLBank Chicago created four categories as a framework by which members selected their beneficiaries and they were to align with at least one of the categories. Black River Country Bank identified Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services to align with the category of Community Empowerment Services for Populations Hardest-Hit by COVID-19: Support for social services that benefit populations hardest hit by COVID-19, including but not limited to Black, Latino, Native American, elderly, and rural communities.
Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services’ mission fits that criteria by promoting optimal wellness through advocacy, education and comprehensive services for individuals, families, and the Jackson County community. Specifically, the Behavioral Health Division is dedicated to providing comprehensive mental health and substance use related services, as well as services for children with special needs, to the citizens of Jackson County. Services are available for children, youth, and adults through a variety of programs. “The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated mental health and substance abuse issues in our country and here in our Jackson County community. COVID-19 has created anxiety, isolation, and other various hardships for community members. It has forced our staff and other providers to identify and implement new ways of providing services. It even limited what services were available in the community during the beginning of the pandemic,” explained Stinson. "We hope to use the funds to meet the needs of individuals by funding services and items that our programs and other resources cannot cover the cost of. We are also grateful to have the funds to help connect with individuals in the community in potentially new and different ways to let them know there is help and resources out there for them if they are struggling. We have also identified specific populations that we hope to connect with more and have already started to have those discussions on what this might look like,” said Stinson. The Targeted Impact Fund grant dollars will be equally apportioned across 2 core capacities and major programming efforts within JCDHHS -- Client Specific Funding and Outreach Funding. The Client Specific Funding will assist individuals and/or families who are involved in programs through the Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services or seek out assistance from JCDHHS. Funds will be used for individuals who are struggling with mental health and/or addiction challenges. The Outreach Funding will be used for Jackson County Behavioral Health staff to better serve the mental health and substance abuse needs of the Jackson County Community, as well as general education for the community and outreach efforts, including general public outreach regarding behavioral health resources and population specific outreach. Tracy Madvig, Black River Country Bank’s Organizational and Business Development Officer added “Again, the Federal Home Loan Bank Chicago has blown us away with its generosity and progressiveness in helping address some very real social issues that we face as a small rural community, especially in the throws of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s not always easy to take that hard look at where fundamental needs are lacking (especially in terms of mental health) for our neighbors and try to determine where we can make the most of the grant dollars and the most impact on a personal level. But in working with Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services’ Behavioral Health team, we learned very quickly how we could help meet some real-time client needs as well as provide broad proactive supports in terms of new community outreach, education, and prevention efforts for which we also see a tremendous need.”
Prior to this grant award, in late April 2020, Federal Home Loan Bank Chicago previously approved funding for a COVID-19 Relief Grant Program available via application to all its member institutions in Wisconsin and Illinois. The grants were intended to provide needed support within our communities resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, Black River Country Bank applied for the COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, where FHLBank Chicago allocated enough funds for all member and associate member institutions to receive up to $20,000 in COVID-19 Relief Grant funds. Black River Country Bank was awarded the full $20,000 COVID-19 Relief Grant in May 2020 and local beneficiaries – Jackson County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, Black River Falls Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division, Friends Sharing Food, and Jackson County Dairy Promotion Committee – were selected by BRCB for distributions to help the many “boots on the ground” efforts being made by our local organizations helping so many people in need during this crisis.
Bob Becker, President Black River Country Bank further explained, “Our partnership with FHLBank Chicago continues to allow us to target grant dollars to areas of extremely high needs of our local residents. This grant allowed BRCB to identify an area of need that often goes un-talked about, but that affects our community in very harsh ways. We hope that this can be a springboard for more help in the area of mental health. I am very proud to partner with the FHLBank Chicago, the Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services, and our employees for the work they put in identifying, participating with, and supporting this outreach.”
Jackson County Department of Health & Human Services receives $15,000 Targeted Impact Fund Grant through Black River Country Bank’s Partnership with Federal Home Loan Bank Chicago. Pictured (l-r) are Justin Blaken of Black River Country Bank, Christine Hovell and Jessica Stinson of Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services and Bob Becker, Kim Torres, and Max Hart all of Black River Country Bank.
For Immediate Release: May 18, 2020
Black River Country Bank through Partnership with Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago Grants $20,000 to Local Organizations
“You’re going to make me cry,” reacted Lori Chown, Director of Jackson County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers (JCIVC), upon hearing the news they were going to be receiving a $3,000 grant from Black River Country Bank through a partnership with Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLBank Chicago). JCIVC was one of four local organizations (more below) recently awarded the FHLBank Chicago COVID-19 Relief Grant. Jackson County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers’ mission and many outreach programs (such as providing Home-Based visits, Groceries to Go, Time For You, and the Visually Impaired Reading Program) involve trained volunteers of all ages who pool their energies and talents in the preservation of dignity and maintenance of independent living among Jackson County’s health-impaired older adults, persons under disability and those having special needs. The COVID-19 crisis, has forced JCIVC to find creative ways to continue to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable, homebound residents. Chown explained, "Interfaith continues to deliver groceries to health impaired older adults. Each week we are delivering to 20-30 individuals. This is a big increase from before COVID-19. With Hansen's IGA being so busy, Interfaith staff is now calling to get the grocery orders, then emailing them to Hansen's staff. It's a lot different than what we were doing, but it's the best way to make things work. We are also providing reassurance calls to those who are more isolated and have the help of over 30 volunteers with that! In the last month over 25 seamstresses have sewn over 1,000 masks that Interfaith helped distribute to businesses, health care agencies and community members. Every time we would receive a new call for masks these ladies would rise to the occasion and have over 100 masks made in a day or two to meet the need. These ladies have lovingly been called the "mask angels." Chown reflected.
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago approved funding in late April for a COVID-19 Relief Program available via application to all its member institutions in Wisconsin and Illinois. The grants were intended to provide needed support within our communities resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, Black River Country Bank (BRCB), with offices in Black River Falls and Melrose, applied for the COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, where FHLBank Chicago allocated enough funds for all member and associate member institutions to receive up to $20,000 in COVID-19 Relief Grant funds. Black River Country Bank was awarded the full $20,000 COVID-19 Relief Grant and local beneficiaries were selected by BRCB for distributions to help the many “boots on the ground” efforts being made by our local organizations helping so many people in need during this crisis. Bob Becker, President Black River Country Bank further explained, “Our partnership with FHLBank Chicago has helped us for many years to fund the needs of local residents in meeting their dreams of home ownership, but to have them step up in this time of crisis and help us make available these desperately needs funds, is truly outstanding. The grant allowed BRCB to identify the organizations that we felt could put these funds directly to work in our community and in a manner that would reach people that are directly affected by this crisis and could use the helping hand. I am very proud to partner with the FHLBank Chicago and our employees for the work they put in identifying, participating with, and supporting the organizations that we chose to receive this grant money.”
Another $3,000 was awarded to Black River Falls Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division to be used to help secure necessary equipment and supplies for the division and its area EMS Responders. BRF EMS Divisions and its area EMS Responders cover 1,000 square miles serving over 20,000 residents living in the city of Black River Falls, the villages of Melrose, Taylor, Hixton, Alma Center, Merrillan, as well as 15 townships in Jackson County and two townships in Clark County. “Our thanks goes out to Black River Country Bank for thinking about the EMS Division and all EMS responders in Jackson County with their donation. We are hoping to utilize the money to purchase some additional decontamination equipment to help clean the response apparatus and equipment more efficiently and effectively,” said Jody Stoker, EMS Division Chief.
Black River Country Bank selected Friends Sharing Food to receive $7,000, which is helping fund the four local food pantries that the organization sponsors – Friend’s Food Shelf, Neighborhood Food Pantry, Jackson County Food Pantry, and Food for Kids. Jon Warmke, Co-President of Friends Sharing Food, stated that "during this time of need and our inability to receive donated food from community members due to the virus , the additional funds allow our organization to work with our regional partners, Feed My People and The Hunger Task Force of Wisconsin, to insure that a stable and nutritious food source is available to those in Jackson County who feel they have a need.” Friends Sharing Food's various pantries serve over 200 Jackson County Families each month. With the recent economic fallout due to the virus, they have seen an increase in the number of Jackson County families using their service. Friends Sharing Food, Inc. has been serving Jackson County since 2006. Their mission is to help reduce hunger in Jackson County families through regularly scheduled projects while treating recipients with compassion, dignity and respect.
Jackson County Dairy Promotion Committee was the fourth grant recipient and was awarded $7,000. The JCDPC is comprised of many local dairy farm owners and agriculture supporters, all volunteers who are passionate about dairy, educating, and promoting dairy products to all community members. The $7,000 will go towards supporting the Curds for Kids and Dairy at Dinnertime programs, recently launched to help serve multiple purposes … helping to meet food and nutritional needs of our county’s residents, supporting our local dairy farmers operating with excess milk supply, and purchasing from our local cheese makers and distribution plants. To date 1,530 pounds of Lynn Dairy cheese curds, 1,530 pounds of cheese curds from AMPI in Blair, and 1,530 pounds of Nasonville Dairy cheese curds have been distributed across 3 weeks to students enrolled in the school lunch program in the Black River Falls, Melrose-Mindoro, and Alma Center-Humbird- Merrillan School Districts. That works out to be about 1 package per family. The Dairy at Dinnertime initiative has JCDPC members giving away free milk, cheese, and butter (plus a BOGO coupon to redeem at local grocery and convenience stores) in the parking lots of local retailers such as Theisen’s in Black River Falls and Double T in Merrillan. So far, they estimate about 600 gallons of milk, 96 pounds of butter, and 120 pounds of cottage cheese have been given out to our local neighbors driving up. “As a committee, we are very grateful to the individuals, organizations, and businesses that have been so very generous and supportive of our efforts. We wouldn't have been able to make the impact we have without them,” added Betty Janke, Treasurer JCDPC.
Tracy Madvig, Black River Country Bank’s Organizational and Business Development Officer echoed, Becker’s sentiments, “As a family-owned community bank, we feel a deep social responsibility to seek out resources, be creative, and do what we can to help our neighbors thrive in good times, as well as uncertain times. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with the generous efforts and resources made available to us through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. It was very gratifying to receive notice that we received the grant funds and were able to pass those along to some very deserving organizations, who are out there advocating for and assisting so many in need. There’s not much better in my job, than being able to tell someone that we (at BRCB) can help play a role in their service to others in our community.”
Jackson County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers
Pictured (l-r) are Lori Chown (Jackson County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers) and Bob Becker (Black River Country Bank).
Black River Falls Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division
Pictured (l-r) are Bob Becker (Black River Country Bank) Jody Stoker (BRF EMS).
Friends Sharing Food
Pictured (l-r) are Jon Warmke (Friends Sharing Food) and Bob Becker (Black River Country Bank).
Photo Credit: JoDee Brooke, Banner Journal.
Jackson County Dairy Promotion Committee
Pictured (l-r) are Max Hart, Roxanne Ruzic, Bailey Larson and Betty Janke (Jackson County Dairy Promotion Committee), Bob Becker (Black River Country Bank), Lori Janke and Matt Rhodes (JCDPC Dairy at Dinnertime campaign) and Connie Seiber (BRF School District Nutrition Services Supervisor).