Home Away From Home

Posted April 5 2018 in #PeopleFirst

Every spring, for the past five years, Chris has the same routine. He packs up his things, bids farewell to his home in Wellington, South Africa, and flies across the ocean to Bismarck, North Dakota. He works for a farmer throughout the summer. While he’s there, he comes into the Choice Financial location in north Bismarck every two weeks to wire money home. Over the years, the bankers have come to know him pretty well.

“He’s a very nice, polite young man, very fun to work with,” said Joyce Dewald, a retail location manager who works with Chris.

Chris is 25 years old, with an optimistic attitude, characteristic of South Africa. He’s often cracking jokes and treats everyone with the utmost respect. Joyce said he often remarks at how thankful he is to be here, for his job, and for the friendly culture.

So, when she got an urgent email from him, just a few days after he had returned home, she was distraught.

“He told me everything was gone,” she said.

Chris came home that winter to find his apartment had been broken into, and nearly everything had been taken. One of few things remaining was a locked safe wherein he kept his U.S. documents and banking information. He wrote Joyce to ask if she could close up his other accounts.

“I don’t have any family here, I have nothing,” he said. “I wish I were back in North Dakota.”

“I don’t have any family here, I have nothing,” he said. “I wish I were back in North Dakota.”

Joyce’s heart hurt for Chris and his situation. She wanted to help in some way.

“I wanted to help him out, help him get back on his feet,” she said.

She called Karla Janke, a Virtual Banker in Fargo, and asked about different options for helping him out. Karla suggested putting some money into his debit card account that he could still access. Joyce agreed, and put $50 into his account to help him get groceries and any other goods he might need until things were sorted out.

Joyce was truly putting PeopleFirst in thinking about him, not just as an account number, but as a person.”

“It pulled at your heart. I can’t imagine being alone, with a situation like that,” Karla said. “Joyce was truly putting PeopleFirst in thinking about him, not just as an account number, but as a person.”

When she told Chris about the funds, he sent back a warm thank you.

“Thank you, I appreciate you helping me, as I’m a foreigner, and doing all the effort… Having no parents to run to is no fun and it’s tough back home.. Thank you.”

Joyce was happy to help in any way. “It doesn’t make a difference where you’re from,” Joyce said. “It’s about putting PeopleFirst.”

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