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Superior bank employees take time for community

Jessica M. Ferris (from left), Jessica A. Ferris and Nancy Rislov-Johnson are hard at work digging up weeds in the Catlin Court garden. (Jed Carlson /

BMO Harris Bank employees in Superior took a break from counting money and opening accounts this week, trading cash and calculators for gardening gloves and shovels.

“It felt great to get out of the office and help beautify Superior,” said Nancy Rislov-Johnson, assistant bank manager at BMO Harris. “Volunteer day is generally something all of our employees look forward to, and want to participate in.”

Bank employees traveled to Superior Housing Authority on Wednesday to renovate a garden as a part of the bank’s annual volunteer day.

“This day is an extension of the community work we are dedicated to throughout the year,” Rislov-Johnson said. “Our employees are encouraged to find a cause for which they are passionate and get involved.”

The volunteer day was created in 2001, and has grown over the years. This year, about 6,000 BMO employees across the U.S. and Canada volunteered in their local neighborhoods by participating in nearly 400 activities that help hundreds of organizations such as community housing, youth organizations, health care facilities and homeless shelters and food banks.

About 11 Superior employees were split between two shifts to pull weeds, clean the garden and plant flowers at the Housing Authority’s family property, Catlin Court.

“Trying to maintain the garden can be overwhelming at times … it’s a lot to keep up,” said Sandy Smith, executive assistant at Superior Housing Authority. “It’s always nice to get help and the BMO Harris employees did a great job. The residents really appreciate it.”

Last year, 12 employees planted flowers at the Memory Lane Adult Day Care Center on Tower Avenue. The bank works with United Way to find an activity that works well for the group and brings value to the community.

“It’s nice to being able to do something for a good cause,” said Jessica A. Ferris, senior center representative at BMO. “Being able to help the residents who can’t upkeep the garden themselves is rewarding. I’m glad I got to help.”