Magazine article American Banker

Corporate Community: Adoption Fund Drive at Western Sierra

Magazine article American Banker

Corporate Community: Adoption Fund Drive at Western Sierra

Article excerpt

Banks often pass the hat for fire, flood, or earthquake victims, but Western Sierra National Bank of Cameron Park, Calif., may be the first to do so for adoptions, its chief executive says.

The $382 million-asset bank has launched fund-raising drives at each of its 11 branches to help place children in the Sacramento region through the local Sierra Adoption Services.

"There's a tremendous need ... but it's very expensive, about $5,000 per child to get through all of the bureaucracy," said Kirk N. Dowdell, who is also the bank's president. "Most people assume that government takes care of that. But in reality, if it weren't for nonprofit groups like Sierra Adoption Services out there raising money, a lot of children would go without parents."

The bank and the agency kicked off their Caring for Kids campaign this month. Each branch has selected a child that the agency is working to place. Collection cans at each teller station display that child's name and photograph, and branch employees wear pins that read, "Ask me about Sierra Adoption Services."

Western Sierra has also put a page on its Web site describing the campaign and included similar descriptions on inserts in monthly statement mailings.

Though it has set a target date of June 30 to raise $50,000, Mr. Dowdell said the bank would continue to collect donations from employees and customers until enough is raised to fund the adoptions.

Many of the children featured at Western Sierra's branches are elementary school-age, which makes them tougher to place, said Larisa Bryski, the coordinator of adoptions at Sierra Adoption Services.

"Typically it is harder to find homes for older children, simply because a lot of people want to adopt babies," Ms. Bryski said. "But most of these kids have been in the foster care system for a very long time, and they really need a permanent, loving home in order to be successful in the world as adults. …

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