First Citizens Bank of Newton Grove held a community customer appreciation event Tuesday, May 7 as a way to express their thankfulness for their loyal customers and to celebrate their 61 years of serving the community.
As customers entered the bank’s Hawaiian-themed luau, they were greeted by longtime employee Sue Vernon who presented each one with a colorful lei.
At 5 p.m. Vernon kicked the festivities off by welcoming everyone and thanking them for the nice turnout. “Our customers always come first and they support us. Believe it or not, we’ve been here for 61 years and we value the good relationships we have developed with out customers over that time. We have such a special place here in Newton Grove and such special people.”
Newton Grove Mayor Gerald Darden also took time to thank First Citizens for all that they have done for the community over the years.
Darden noted that although the town’s population is just 600 people, their First Citizens branch recently led in a successful credit card campaign, winning over other branches from across the country.
“I know how they did it. They beat everybody else because they asked everybody here (if they had a credit card),” said Darden, earning a laugh from bank employees and customers alike. “Congratulations, all of you ladies (the bank’s employees), you’ve done your job.”
Bill Scott, an area executive based at First Citizens in Clinton, followed with a brief history of First Citizens Bank. He shared that the bank has been in existence for 115 years, a history that he said showed customers that the bank is here to stay.
He assured customers that bank employees know the bank’s leadership on a first name basis and that that familiarity and close relationship extends to the customers. “If you have suggestions for us, tell us,” encouraged Scott. “You are why we work and we want to do the best we can for you.”
Kelly West, a member of the First Citizens’ sales strategy team, joined Scott in presenting the Newton Grove branch with a certificate of accomplishment and congratulating them on their impressive results in the campaign.
Next came the highlight of the luau — a hula dance by the bank employees.
Wearing tropical print dresses, leis, and flowers in their hair, bank employees Gayle Darden, Sue Vernon, Faye Westbrook, and Kerri Bollin danced the hula with some help from a dance group from Lori’s School of Dance.
“I’ve had an account with First Citizens since I was born,” noted Lori Knowles, “and my business account is with them so I’m a loyal customer. Sue called us and asked if we would like to come and dance with them and I thought it was a good idea. Anyway we can help we want to. Our dance school is about learning about all types of dance but we are also about giving back to the community.”
Although the dancers had never danced the hula before, they all agreed that dancing with the bank employees was fun.
Buzzy the Bee from The Bee Hive in Newton Grove joined the dancers, decked out in his own grass skirt and numerous leis. Also located in Clinton, The Bee Hive is a thrift shop that supports U Care, a local, private nonprofit organization that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Following the entertainment, Scott thanked Knowles and her dancers for coming and presented her with a $200 scholarship for her dance school. Knowles shared that the money would be used to purchase costumes and dance shoes for the dance class that she offers for free to children with special needs.
Customers were then invited to help themselves to a huge buffet of goodies. As they ate and socialized, Scott explained that customers would also have the opportunity to visit four different tiki huts manned by First Citizens associates which offered customers a variety of information about specific bank services including wills and mobile banking.
Acknowledging that he did not feel the luau was an appropriate time to make any major banking decisions, Scott shared that “we would love to have your name and phone number if you are interested in any of our services.”
One of the tiki huts customers could visit provided information about credit cards. “Although if you don’t have a credit card with us yet, you might not live here,” said Scott as attendees laughed.
As First Citizens’ clients mingled with each other, they expressed their thankfulness for the bank’s employees and their effort in organizing such a unique customer appreciation event.
“I think it’s wonderful, very nice,” said Grace Lee. “I have to say that Sue Vernon is very nice. She helps me a lot with banking things that I don’t understand.”
“It’s great and it really shows us their appreciation. I knew I was appreciated before but I know I’m really appreciated now,” said Minnie Bennett, smiling as reflected on the employees’ hula dance.
“We did it for our customers because we truly appreciate them and value the good relationships we have with them,” shared First Citizens’ employee Faye Westbrook. “They’re very supportive of us.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.