Imagine witnessing first-hand the aftermath of an F-4 tornado. Envision the devastation 177 mile-per-hour winds would leave in their wake. Nearly 100 AgStar Financial Services employees don’t need to imagine it. They were there to help pick up the pieces.
Hours after the storm hit, the AgStar team mobilized, putting volunteers from the Blue Earth flagship on the ground throughout the weekend. The Blue Earth flagship closed on Monday, June 21, in order to assist those hardest hit. Throughout the week, nearly 100 AgStar employees, from many locations throughout the state, made their way to Freeborn County to help with the long and tedious clean-up process.
For many, the experience was life-changing and will stay with them forever. Read further for some of their comments and impressions.
Becky Schnoor, Associate Home Mortgage Coordinator:
It was a truly rewarding day. It is amazing yet scary to see what a tornado can do. Talking with the families sends chills through your bones. I can’t even begin to imagine what they went through. Even though I was hot, sweaty, dirty and exhausted, I was so grateful to have the opportunity help out. AgStar is an awesome place to work. What other business would organize volunteers the way AgStar did? We truly do care about our clients and communities.
Adam Bennett, Project Manager:
The area was like a war-zone. Houses looked like they’d had a stick of dynamite thrown in them. They were literally obliterated. Grain bins full of corn were crushed like pop cans. Huge pieces of wood were slammed 2 ½ feet into the ground. Seeing it firsthand takes it from a “news story” to a “personal story.”
I will never forget meeting the Steele family and hearing about what they lived through. The power went out and they couldn’t get “G’pa” Steele out of his electric chair and into the basement. They had to watch the tornado from their living room as it went over their house. As I sat in their front yard taking a break, “G’ma” Steele came out with a bag of sandwiches for us all. It reminded me of my own grandparents and their farm. Hard work was not unfamiliar to them. They knew what it meant to be tired at the end of a day from working hard; to be sore and dirty. Adversity comes, especially in farming, but the attitude I saw in everyone was not “oh no… what do I do?” but an immediate response of “let’s get to work and rebuild.”
I was so incredibly impressed with AgStar in this situation and how they responded to help not just their “clients” but their friends. I would venture to guess that very, very few companies care for clients in a way that would compare to what I saw. It was quickly apparent that we weren’t there because it was a good “PR” move, but we were there because our clients/friends were affected by this devastation and needed help. That is true partnership. That is true relationship. It’s not giving lip service to these things, putting them in a brochure to tell everyone we value these things, but it’s “boots on the ground” partnership, ready at the drop of a hat to jump in and work (and work hard at that). I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with this team and with AgStar. I saw what I hope every client we have sees during their experience with AgStar and that was our true commitment and partnership with them that goes far beyond marketing materials and friendly conversation.
Billi Jo Nelson, Associate Leasing Officer:
My first impression was, “Where do we even start?” We were there a week after the tornados came through and there was still so much clean-up to do. The wife at the farm we went to was so appreciative she was fighting back tears. It was hard work on a hot day but whenever I wanted to stop I would look around and see so much more to do that I would just take a short break and get back at it as best as I could. I wish I had more time to go back and help out again!