Supporting the ‘heroes of the homefront’
From sending care packages to sharing money management tips for financial health, Wells Fargo Volunteer of the Year Betsy Feeser is serving — and supporting — fellow military spouses.
When Betsy Feeser joined Wells Fargo in 2009, she knew the company’s national reach meant she wouldn’t have to change jobs every time her future husband got a new assignment from the U.S. Coast Guard.
She married her husband, Alan, a chief petty officer and maritime enforcement specialist, in 2010. The expected moves came after their marriage — first to Ocala, Florida, then to Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C., and back to her hometown, Charleston, South Carolina, in 2016.
Feeser didn’t miss a beat at work. Despite six years of relocations, her Wells Fargo roles rose through the ranks from teller to banker, service manager, and branch manager. She’s now leading her fourth Wells Fargo branch — in James Island, South Carolina. Feeser said she loves her job — and not just for its flexibility and the relationships she’s built while supporting her team and customers.
“Volunteering is in our blood, and something we’ve always done as part of our family. Now I’m part of a company so committed to volunteerism we’re actually given community service time away to use to serve." — Betsy Feeser
It’s that Wells Fargo shares her family’s passion for volunteerism.
As a team member, Feeser receives 16 hours of paid community service time from Wells Fargo to volunteer for causes she cares about. She uses that benefit through her involvement with the Lowcountry chapter of Wells Fargo Volunteers, which helps serve the needs of several Charleston-area nonprofits.
Feeser improves the environment for oysters and other shellfish on area beaches by picking up trash for Surfriders, sorts food to help the Lowcountry Food Bank fight hunger, mentors her lunch buddy weekly (a third grader at James Island Elementary) to help spur educational success, and cheers on Special Olympians while supporting events that help people of all abilities enjoy sports. She’s also been named Wells Fargo’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year for the Lowcountry.
“Volunteering is in our blood, and something we’ve always done as part of our family,” said Feeser, whose mother was a teacher and father was a police officer. Now I’m part of a company so committed to volunteerism we’re actually given community service time away to use to serve,” she said. “It’s amazing to have your company join you in supporting the things you’re already passionate about.”
But as a military spouse herself, it’s military-related volunteer opportunities that resonate most with Feeser — and none more so than her work with Support Military Spouses, whose mission is to honor, support, and assist military spouses in the Carolinas. The Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-based nonprofit is among the 73 Lowcountry nonprofits that Wells Fargo supported in 2018 through more than $1.7 million in grants and more than 8,333 volunteer hours.
In Feeser’s latest work for Support Military Spouses, she led a team of a dozen volunteers who unloaded, finished, and delivered 130 care packages to military spouses and 115 packages to the children attending. The gift baskets for spouses included jewelry, handwritten notes of encouragement by Feeser and her teammates, and other gifts donated by companies for military spouses. The children’s packages featured handwritten notes, the Wells Fargo plush pony, Hunter, and a coloring and activity book.
Christiane Leggett, whose husband, Tom, serves in the Coast Guard, was among the recipients. She brought two of her four sons, Charlie, 2, and Tommy, 3, along with her.
“It’s awesome to see this support for military spouses because it gets lonely,” Leggett said. “Honestly, I feel like a single mother, and I’m so appreciative of Support Military Spouses and the work they and the Wells Fargo volunteers like Betsy do to make us and our children feel special. We just moved here from Hubert, North Carolina, last summer, and I don’t know many spouses. I came across this event on Facebook and decided to come and see, and I’m so glad we did.”
“Wells Fargo is more than a team of volunteers to us at Support Military Spouses. It’s a group of people we call family, who make everything we do possible.” — Diane Rumley
When Hurricane Florence struck and damaged scores of packages and notes for Christmas delivery, Feeser wrote more than 1,000 personal notes for care packages and organized a card-writing campaign involving scores of other Wells Fargo teammates and businesses in South Carolina.
Because of Wells Fargo and volunteers like Feeser, Diane Rumley, who co-founded Support Military Spouses with her husband, Steve Rumley, in 2010, said the nonprofit will have been able to deliver care packages to nearly 70,000 military spouses and their children by the end of 2019.
“I think the most amazing thing about Betsy is that she’s such a selfless, amazing individual because she herself is a military spouse and instead of being served, she has chosen to serve other military spouses like we’re honoring,” Rumley said. “Wells Fargo is more than a team of volunteers to us at Support Military Spouses. It’s a group of people we call family, who make everything we do possible.”
Feeser and fellow Wells Fargo volunteers also support local military spouses by providing financial education. On Aug. 6, Feeser and other team members will lead one of five annual financial health seminars Support Military Spouses holds in the Carolinas using Wells Fargo’s Hands on Banking® program.
Susan Bankson, South Carolina Community Affairs Consultant for Wells Fargo, said Wells Fargo has donated more than $150,000 to Support Military Spouses to date in the Carolinas — home to 11 military instillations and thousands of military families. It’s part of more than $130 million in support by Wells Fargo nationwide to military service members, veterans, and their families since 2012.
“I want to be that person coming alongside these military spouses and supporting them as they face issues like transfers and their questions and pressures: ‘Where am I going to live, where will the kids go to school, will that daycare have an opening, should we buy or rent at this next unit, will I have a job when I get there?’” Feeser said.
“I can’t do for everyone what has been done for me, but if I can do something. It’s great to see a child’s face light up or a mom’s when they get these gifts or other support and know they’re loved and not forgotten. They are the true heroes of the homefront.”