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Community Cares Spotlight Blog #6 - Huntington Bank

Elizabeth Sherwood, Vice President Community Development Relationship Manager

This week, we spoke with Elizabeth Sherwood, Vice President Community Development Relationship Manager at Huntington.

Huntington is a regional bank holding company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, with $114 billion of assets and a network of 839 full-service branches, including 12 Private Client Group offices, and 1,434 ATMs across seven Midwestern states. Founded in 1866, The Huntington National Bank and its affiliates provide consumer, small business, commercial, treasury management, wealth management, brokerage, trust, and insurance services. Huntington also provides vehicle finance, equipment finance, national settlement, and capital market services that extend beyond its core states. 

Written by Braden Worrell

How did you first encounter the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation (IBCF)?

At Huntington we want to help where the need is greatest, and my role is to focus on underserved communities.

At first, I knew nothing about the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI). A colleague and I were invited to tour the school to discuss a potential partnership and see if Huntington could help the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation (IBCF). When we arrived, we were so knocked out by the beauty of the campus. It seemed like Indianapolis’ best kept secret. What really blew us away was when we went inside and saw what the school does for the students. I saw how the school really changes the lives of these students through individualized academic programs and comprehensive skill training.

I could see how the faculty and the staff truly care about the students; they had such a terrific relationship with them. The students have so much to contribute to society and just need some help in learning skills and getting an education - like any other kid in the country. This school is wholly prepared to help these students. Huntington’s culture is based on inclusion; our brand revolves around “Welcome” and that means ‘Welcome to All.’ I believe IBCF’s mission is the same.

The school has the same goal of inclusion and wants to give these students the knowledge, skills and tools to succeed. We want to help with that. That is why we chose to support the Student Training and Employment Program (STEP). The Student Training Employment Program (STEP) gives high school students who are blind or visually impaired an opportunity to develop valuable skills and learn the fundamentals of finding and keeping a job. 

What experiences have personally impacted you since supporting IBCF?

Last year I had a macular tear and had three eye surgeries in one year which involved a temporary partial loss of vision. I knew I would slowly recover my vision, but for more than a month, I could not see out of one eye. That experience was very scary: my depth perception was completely off, I could not drive, struggled to read and just go about my everyday life. This experience made it clear to me that supporting this Foundation and the School’s assistance programs is exactly what we need to do because it helps people who constantly live with visual impairments succeed.

We have many talented, dedicated and compassionate colleagues at Huntington who want to serve in their communities. One way they can do that is to serve on the boards of non-profits like IBCF. We have bankers with financial expertise who can assist non-profits with handling their accounts or fundraising. One of our colleagues, Michael Parent, is an IBCF Board Member and serves as the Treasurer.

Why do you continue to support IBCF? 

Corporations are looking for skilled employees who will bring value to the company. ISBVI is an untapped resource for employees who can add tremendous value to a workforce. Any business is better when different perspectives, voices and talent sets are included. These students are smart and have a lot to contribute. Companies should consider hiring them as interns or employees and supporting programs like STEP. These students deserve the best chance to be included in society and succeed. When you see behind the scenes at the school and meet these students, it becomes clear that, with some support and assistive technology, children with visual impairments can accomplish great things. A little corporate support can make this happen. I would encourage other corporations and individuals to support IBCF as well.