Seeing Success Beyond the Bank

By Brad McEwen

They say time flies when you’re having fun and I’m certainly not one to argue.

It seems like only yesterday I was packing up my desk and leaving the Albany Herald to head off on a new adventure, but in truth that happened nearly two months ago.

And what an awesome two months it’s been!

To say that I’ve been embraced in my new role at AB&T is an understatement. Since coming on board April 10th the entire team has been incredibly welcoming and everyone has worked hard to make me feel right at home. In many ways it’s like I’ve been here for years. Certainly any doubts I might have had about leaving the newspaper and transitioning back to the world of banking have definitively been put to rest.

I truly could not be any happier.

As fantastic as that reception has been, however, the real treat of the past few weeks has been the overwhelmingly positive reaction the bank has received from our new “Beyond the Bank” series of human interest stories we’ve been publishing each Sunday.

Even after releasing our first “Beyond the Bank” piece—where I tried to shed some light on how we would use the forum to affect positive change in our community—I know there was still some uncertainty (both internally and in the community) about what that would look like.

But now, just a few stories in, I think the message that we’re using this new outlet to let folks know about the powerful things happening in the Good Life City has been received.

We’ve got just four features under our belt and already I feel confident that AB&T’s “Beyond the Bank” mission is off to an impressive start and I’m truly blown away with its impact, its reach and its positive reception.

From the spotlight we put on Principal Melissa Brubaker’s earnest efforts to elevate the lives of the students of Alice Coachman Elementary, to our in-depth look ASU Baseball Coach Scot Hemmings’ quest to teach positive values to young ball players, this community, our community, has embraced the concept and voiced its support.

Combined, the Facebook posts we’ve created promoting those stories have been seen by nearly 40,000 people and elicited over 175 shares, which needless to say, has far exceeded our humble expectations.

As dramatic as those statistics are, however, I suffer under no delusions that this early success comes simply from the fact that people like seeing my name under a story.

No, I believe there’s much more to it than that.

As I reflect on those four pieces—which also included a closer look at the excitement Chehaw Education Director Jackie Entz brings to learning about nature, and a peek at the profound impact Monroe Comprehensive High School Principal Vinson Davis is having on some of our high school students—it’s easy to see that these stories, and more importantly the people behind them, share some common characteristics.

First of all, there’s no doubt that many of you are concerned with the education of our young people, so it makes sense that the stories focusing on Melissa and Vinson—both incredible educators and leaders in our local school system—would draw interest. Not only did those features introduce the community to two impressive people, they served as proof that we have some supremely talented individuals impacting change within the Dougherty County School System.

Likewise (even though they are not employed by the DCSS) the profiles of Jackie and Scot touched a similar nerve as both of them—Entz at the college level and at one of our most important cultural attractions, and Hemmings through his youth camps and college athletics programs—are bringing their immense talents to bear on a similar population.

Quite simply I think all four stories found an audience because they’re connected to our children, or more importantly this community’s future.

But while that focus on empowering and inspiring our young people certainly resonates with “Beyond the Bank” readers, I think our audience has also responded to some deeper connections.

For instance, it’s impossible to talk shop with Vinson or Jackie without seeing the intense passion they have for sharing knowledge, or their desire to forge a lasting bond with their students.

Similarly the dedication and determination Scot and Melissa put into teaching, leading and finding innovative ways to deliver important messages is readily apparent when learning more about what makes them tick and why they do what they do.

I believe that when we see people who are passionate, visionary, creative and committed we can’t help but be inspired ourselves.

When we hear about Vinson and his team taking the time to meet every new student and building strong relationships, it gives us hope that we can meaningful unions. When learning that Melissa has spent her entire life trying to figure out the best way to enrich the lives of others, maybe we get a little more motivated to give of ourselves.

Upon seeing the unbridled enthusiasm Jackie has for connecting with kids by staying tapped into her inner child, or hearing Scot wax philosophic about the transformative power of learning about life through baseball, we might get a little more excited about living our own lives.

These four individuals, who just like the rest of us have their flaws and shortcomings, offer us a glimpse the traits we admire most in others and of the things we value most in our society. They serve as examples of what we want our teachers, principal, coaches and leaders to be.

I can’t help but think that if everyone who read these stories modeled just a little bit of the behavior exhibited by these inspiring souls, our community would improve and all of our lives would be enriched.

In fact, that concept is really at the heart of the “Beyond the Bank” series. When I arrived and this idea was presented, the commitment we made to our readers was that through these features the bank would be providing a community service and that AB&T would strive to be a positive force in Albany, GA.

I personally can’t think of a better way for us to achieve that mission than to introduce phenomenal individuals like Melissa, Vinson, Jackie and Scot to a larger audience.

In my mind, shining that spotlight on the people and things that make me proud to call Albany home is vitally important and I’m excited that “Beyond the Bank” has allowed me to have a hand in that.

Armed with the validation that this community supports our “Beyond the Bank” efforts, the next task is simply to find other worthy subjects for upcoming features. And I have no doubt there’s plenty more remarkable people and things that need to be highlighted.

To that end, and because this series is aimed at benefitting all of us, I’d like to urge everyone to help me get “Beyond the Bank.”

You see, at AB&T everything we do is geared toward our clients. We strive to provide not only the best products and service available, but also exactly what our clients want and need. We exist to serve our clients and our community and I want to see that philosophy extended through “Beyond the Bank.”

I can think of nothing better than to have my friends and neighbors help guide the direction of these weekly features.

So please, if you’re aware of someone doing awesome things to benefit our community and endeavoring to make Albany a better place, or if you know about a program that enhances lives, let me know.

Don’t be shy.

Just give me a call, send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or message me on Facebook. I’d love to connect with you.

And for those of you who have already let your voices be heard, I say ‘Thank You!’

Getting to spend time with the individuals highlighted in the first four “Beyond the Bank” features was an amazing experience, topped only by the fact that through my words my community enjoyed spending some quality time with them too.

Connect with Brad - 229.405.7212 - brad.mcewen@abtgold.com - @BradGMcEwen