2022 Connexus Cares Impact Report

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A MESSAGE FROM Our President and CEO


Connexus Cares—the philanthropic arm of Connexus Credit Union—experienced another fulfilling year of giving back in 2022, working with over 300 charitable organizations across the country to support the greater good and inspire meaningful giveback throughout our communities. The spirit of giving remains strong at Connexus, and it’s evident in our commitment to empower our employees and the communities around us to make a positive impact in the world.

When we think about making an impact, we often think solely about the numbers. We’re extremely proud of our record numbers from 2022, including:

• $3.5 million in Financial Donations

• More than $40,000 in Employee Donation Matching

• Over 3,000 Hours Volunteered

But the numbers only tell part of our story. As a philanthropic program, Connexus Cares also made an impact by deepening our understanding of the communities we serve and nurturing our partnerships.

2 • A Message From Our
and CEO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 — 3 • Giving By The Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 • Connexus Cares Giveback Award . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 • Employee Giveback . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 — 9 • Community Giveback . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 — 11 • Heritage Credit Union Legacy Fund . . . . . . . . 12 — 13 • Season of Giving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 • Giving In The Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 • The People Behind the Scenes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

We dug deep into our valued connections and expanded our commitment to the organizations and programs that benefit our local non-profits and the communities we live in.

Our employees helped extend the Connexus Cares impact. There is an authentic desire to be of service at Connexus, and throughout the year you could find Connexus employees participating in volunteer opportunities that helped to transform our communities and the programs that support individuals and families in need. Collaboration with non-profits not only gives us a chance to help others, but also the ability to build relationships with colleagues over a shared dedication to giving back. We provide Connexus employees with 16 hours of Volunteer Time Off annually, which encourages them to support their favorite local non-profits. This, combined with our dollar-for-dollar employee donation-matching program, demonstrates our commitment to making the world a better place for future generations through the passion of our valued team members.

While we’re proud of the impact we made in 2022, we recognize that the need continues to grow and there is still so much more we can do. We look forward to taking our giveback to the next level, encouraging our employees to use their volunteer hours to double and even triple our impact, and continuing to share our progress with you. Thank you to all who contributed to Connexus Cares in some way, and truly brought our philanthropic mission to life in new ways. You’ve made it possible to make an impact in our communities, and I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside you.




In 2022, Connexus Cares gave with purpose by:

Donating $3,500,472 to community non-profits.

Supporting 326 organizations.

Volunteering 3,000+ hours in the communities where our employees live and work.

Matching $40,887 in employee donations.

Investing $1,000,000 in communities served by the Heritage Credit Union Legacy Fund.

Providing over 4 million pounds of food through financial donations.



Connexus Credit Union recognizes an employee each year with the Connexus Cares Giveback Award. Employees are nominated by their peers for the award, which honors an individual who goes above and beyond to make a positive difference in their community. In 2022, the Connexus Cares Giveback Award was presented to Bailey Sleeper, our Organizational Giving Specialist at Connexus.

Bailey is a true role model when it comes to community involvement. She serves on various boards and committees throughout the Wausau area, volunteers often at non-profit organizations, and finds meaningful ways to invest in her community. Two of Bailey’s greatest qualities as a leader in her community are patience and empathy.

“Being empathetic gives me the ability to be more patient, humble, and to lead by example—it’s the right thing to do and feels great,” noted Bailey. She is genuine, thoughtful, and intentional in her commitment to ensuring all people are respected and supported.

“We could not think of anyone more deserving of this award. Bailey is so passionate about her community and works hard to ensure Connexus Cares has a well-thought-out presence in the community. She is smart, compassionate, and humble in her thoughtful approach to community giveback through our employee giving campaigns and VTO (Volunteer Time Off) programming.

Nominated by Shannon S. & Jennifer K.


As part of the mission of Connexus Cares, we strive to create meaningful giveback opportunities for the more than 650 employees of Connexus Credit Union. These opportunities include a robust Volunteer Time Off program, generous donation matching, a dedicated hardship fund, and various giveback campaigns where employees have the opportunity to donate and share information about programs that are important to them.

Volunteer Time Off

In 2022, Connexus employees volunteered over 3,000 hours with the organizations that mean the most to them. Connexus Cares is grateful to all the employees who dedicated their time to make a difference!

In Their Own Words: Employees Share VTO Experiences

“It was a beautiful morning to be out, and we all had fun. We had 20-30 bags of garbage that we picked up. It was pretty eye opening and rewarding what we were able to accomplish.”

— Chelsea Menge, Member Services

“A group of us volunteered this morning at Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. They source surplus food from farmers, manufacturers, and grocers to distribute to food pantries, churches, and other community programs that nourish people in our communities. Today I learned that any produce that does not make it to distribution is routed to pig farms to help nourish them.”


“Providing trishaw rides is really about connecting people—passengers, pilots, and the public. During the rides today, I was able to connect with a variety of residents from a local nursing home. During each 30-minute ride, we chatted, and I pointed out things in nature to draw their attention to. Many of these people have not gone on a bike ride since they were kids, so when we are done, they all always have a huge smiles on their face. I love being able to talk with the riders and get to know a little more about them while we bike. It is such an honor to be able to serve my community in this way.”

“It was a fun and personally rewarding experience, and a great way to help out those in need.”

“We collated new employee and new student folders, which was a great opportunity for us to all spend time together, work as a team, and help a great organization!”

“My daughter and I went to volunteer some time at the Humane Society of Lincoln County. Before we went, we decided to pick up some cat toys, kitten food, and cat nip on their Holiday Wish List. I really enjoyed using this time to not only help my area Humane Society, but also use it as a teachable moment for my daughter. We discussed how the animals were looking for homes and what the Humane Society does for the animals. Of course, her favorite part was playing in the room with about nine kittens!”



“We spent the day focused on a painting project, updating their cashwrap area and future updates on the wall behind the cashwrap. It was a fun, rewarding day!”

“We raked two yards with United Way of Portage County. We had a lot of fun posing for photos, lots of laughs, and very thankful residents.”

Beyond feeling part of something bigger, my time with SIS Bootcamp always connects me to the participants on a real and personal level. Some were executives on Wall Street, working high-power jobs in NYC, only to have their worlds come crashing down and find themselves homeless. Others were SAHMs and don't know where to begin when it comes to starting a career outside their home. Regardless of their situation, it's life-changing to hear their stories, and what they've been through, many of whom escaped domestic abuse or battles with addiction. To meet them exactly where they're at and give them hope means so much. I often feel like I get back more than I give after volunteering, and I always have a renewed gratitude for my life and amazing job!”

Donation Matching

To encourage and support employee charitable giving, Connexus Cares provides a dollar-for-dollar match for donations made to eligible not-forprofit organizations. In 2022, we matched over $40,000 in donations from our employees, which was a 35% increase from 2021. Employees were most passionate about organizations supporting animal welfare, food insecurity, and well-being.


Hardship Funds

Each year, Connexus Cares dedicates funds to help employees in need of support as the result of a disaster or emergency. In 2022, we gave over $4,000 to help employees successfully cope with and recover from these circumstances.

United Way

Connexus hosts a campaign every year to support our local United Ways through payroll deductions. In 2022, Connexus employees pledged over $24,000, which is a 51% increase over the 2021 campaign!

Voices of the Holiday Season

New for 2022, Connexus Cares launched our Voices of the Holiday Season Campaign where employees were encouraged to nominate an organization that has made a meaningful impact on their life. Each nominated organization received a $500 donation in the employee’s name. All employees then had an opportunity to vote on which organizations would receive a larger donation. The following organizations received a donation from our Voices of the Holiday Season Campaign:

• $25,000 to Patriot K9s of Wisconsin

• $20,000 to The Women’s Community

• $15,000 to Marshfield Clinic Health Foundation’s Child Life Fund

• $10,000 to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

• $7,500 to Potocki-Lupski Syndrome (PTLS) research at Baylor College of Medicine

Giving Tuesday

2022 was the second year that employees participated in our Giving Tuesday campaign that featured 2-to-1 donation matching. On Giving Tuesday, Connexus employees gave over $12,600 and Connexus Cares matched and donated over $23,000 for a combined total of $35,600!



Part of the Connexus Cares mission is to give with purpose to our communities. We are thankful for the incredible work that so many local organizations and programs do to support our communities. Here’s what some of our partners had to say about our support throughout 2022:

“We are so incredibly grateful for the support that Connexus Cares has provided to Peyton’s Promise. Not only have they supported our mission to provide food to people in our community, but they have supported the emotional and mental well-being of all the advocates who are part of Peyton’s promise, empowering them to keep going.”

— Teena Medick, Executive Director, Peyton’s Promise

“Funding from Connexus Cares made a huge impact for 15 families with 23 children served by Good Start Grants! With the flexibility of the funding, we were able to help families that had unique situations that may not have received help anywhere else.”

— Micki Krueger, Assistant Director, Childcaring

"Where to begin in expressing sincere thankfulness? It has been a blessing working with Connexus Cares support. It has provided much-needed resources to keep FIAMC in a position to help as many area seniors as possible.”

— Ruth Hebe, Executive Program Director, Faith in Action

“Connexus Cares support doesn’t end with monetary donations, but extends to employees volunteering their time. We are humbled by their continued support and thankful for their belief and acceptance of those who need GiGi’s Playhouse Wausau.”

— Erica Erdman, Wausau Founder & Playhouse Manager, GiGi’s Playhouse Wausau


“We are very thankful to have received support from Connexus Cares! Their funding and support have allowed us to provide support and services to over 1,000 individuals in central Wisconsin.”

Not only has Connexus Cares supported us financially, but their employees have volunteered and have had a direct impact on PK9s. We have also been picked by Connexus employees to receive a grant. Thank you for helping us help our Veterans. We couldn't do it without you.”

“For The Hope Center to be of service in our community, community partners here in Stevens Point are very important to us. Connexus Cares is one of our biggest supporters. These efforts have allowed us to continue to be a beacon of support to our community and we couldn’t have done it without you.”

— Alex McKelvey,

Manager, Salvation Army of Stevens Point Merrill's St. Vincent de Paul wants to thank the Connexus Cares Program. Our Merrill Community will be a better place because of your kindness. We should be able to help 40 to 50 families in our community in the upcoming year with your help.



The Heritage Credit Union Legacy Fund was established as part of the merger between Heritage Credit Union and Connexus Credit Union.

Connexus committed to establishing the Heritage Credit Union Legacy Fund and donated $1 million to qualified organizations in 2022. The Heritage Credit Union Legacy Fund Committee directed the distribution of $500,000 to qualified organizations operating in communities served by Heritage Credit Union. Connexus Cares, Connexus’ philanthropic program, matched those donations, providing an additional $500,000.

In total, the Heritage Credit Union Legacy Fund will donate $1.75 million over three years to organizations that provide important community services for those in need. Financial support from this fund focused on food pantries, homeless shelters, youth programs, social support services, veterans programs, and national charities.

“It is a privilege to support and learn from this group of recipients. These deserving organizations have a history of providing purposeful, life-changing programs for people of all needs. Our goal is to help them not only sustain their operations, but grow them for years to come. The Heritage Credit Union Legacy Fund and Connexus Cares’ donation teams were honored to provide this support so that each organization can continue to focus on doing

what matters most: provide meaningful services that improve lives and benefit our communities.”

at Connexus Credit Union and Heritage Credit Union Legacy Fund Committee Member


• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin$30,000

Celebrating 50 years this year, they serve hundreds of boys and girls in Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pierce, and St. Croix counties and are committed to developing mentorship opportunities that change lives for the better.

“The generosity of this gift from Connexus Cares and the Heritage Credit Union Legacy Fund is evidence that mentoring our youth is needed in our communities,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Wisconsin Chief Executive Officer, Wesley Escondo. “We are humbled by this strong expression of support and in the confidence that the credit union has placed in us to defend the potential of youth.”

In Their Words: Organizations Supported by the Legacy Fund

Chetek Food Shelf - $30,000

The Chetek Food Shelf was created for families of the ChetekWeyerhaeuser Area School District to provide necessities. In the span of a month, the Food Shelf might help over 700 families and 1,100 individuals.

“I want to thank you for the generous support. The grants will certainly go a long way in our attempt to stem the problem of food insecurity among the residents of the Chetek-Weyerhaeuser Area School District. Those funds will have a positive effect on our entire community,” says Dennis Huber, President of the Chetek Food Shelf Board.

FISH of Galesburg - $50,000

FISH of Galesburg focuses on the quality of life and better health of the people in Knox County, helping between 17,000-18,000 people every year. FISH is run completely by volunteers and 94% of all donations go straight to feed those who are hungry.

“This generous donation will greatly impact the life of FISH of Galesburg. Sustainability is one of our main goals and this sizeable donation will help ensure that we are able to fulfill our mission in the future. I am still having trouble believing this is real!

Know that you are making a difference in our community,” says Diane Copeland, President of FISH of Galesburg.

• Rusk County Lighthouse Shelter - $40,000

Lighthouse Shelter focuses on the housing needs of Rusk County by operating two locations where homeless residents can temporarily reside.

“With this generous grant from Heritage and Connexus Credit Unions, we can be assured that the shelters will be able to continue serving the homeless of Rusk County and will be able to develop programs that will support our residents and assist them in building a positive future,” says Connie Hanson, Executive Director of The Lighthouse.

• Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation - $40,000

Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation includes three surgical specialty practices and an acute care hospital.

“We are so grateful to the Connexus team for their support. Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation funds several community projects,” said Executive Director, Todd Wuerger. “Last year, we received more applications for help than we were able to support. These new funds will allow us to extend our reach.”

• Wisconsin National Guard Foundation - $20,000

Wisconsin National Guard Foundation serves the interests of the Wisconsin National Guard by providing scholarships, grants to families facing a financial crisis, and opportunities for professional development.

“These funds will significantly support the Wisconsin National Guard Foundation's overarching goal of supporting the Wisconsin National Guard, most specifically the men and women who serve our community, state, and nation together with their families," said Brigadier General (Ret.) Gary L. Ebben, President of the Wisconsin National Guard Foundation.



During the annual Season of Giving campaign, Connexus Cares provides financial contributions to support programs with the greatest need during the holiday season.

In 2022, the Connexus Cares Season of Giving Campaign distributed more than $315,000 to food pantries and humane societies. Additionally, 2022’s campaign included the distribution of holiday gifts to area youth who may not otherwise receive them.

We reached out to organizations in the Wausau, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and Madison communities that work with kids and families in need. We worked closely with the staff to determine what gifts would be the most purposeful and intentional during this time.

One common thread during conversations with program staff was that children’s mittens were in high demand this year. Knowing this, we decided to make a gift of mittens to each community. We donated over 1,000 mittens in total to kids’ closets and school districts in the four communities.

Connexus employees were able to volunteer their time to wrap and deliver gifts. Nearly 30 employees spent their VTO time wrapping and delivering gifts in all four communities.

“I was fortunate to be part of the Season of Giving experience by delivering gifts, mittens, and items of need to nonprofit organizations in the Stevens Point community. It was a fulfilling giveback opportunity that allowed me to learn more about how our donations directly impact local individuals and families, while also connecting me with colleagues through meaningful philanthropic work. It was a highlight of the season for me and made me extremely proud to work at Connexus.”

Overall, the total spent on the holiday gift portion of this campaign was approximately $23,000. There were more than fifty teens, twenty-four families, eight local community organizations, four humane societies, and two school districts touched by this project.



As Connexus Cares looks forward to 2023 and beyond, we are excited to share enhancements to our corporate philanthropy program.

At the beginning of 2023, we announced a new grant application process which allows Connexus Cares to continue supporting non-profit organizations that are dedicated to bettering their community. The application is open to non-profits with tax-exempt status. A full list of criteria and how to apply can be found on our website on the Connexus Cares page.

We are also excited to announce our new strategic areas of giving: National Charities, Mental & Physical Health, Food Insecurity, Housing Insecurity, At-Risk Populations, and Community Wellbeing. As we continue to look ahead to the future and deepen our understanding of the communities we serve, we are thrilled to broaden how we support the greatest need.

To learn more about our philanthropic priorities, employee volunteerism, and giveback activities, follow Connexus Credit Union on Facebook and visit our Connexus Cares webpage.



Operations & Administration

• Bailey Sleeper, Organizational Giving Specialist

• Shannon Schoenberg, Director of Organizational Culture

• Krystle Okite, Administrative Specialist

• Shantel Vallish, Administrative Specialist Advisory Committee

• Boyd Gustke, President & CEO

• Claire Meney, Senior Vice President of Member Experience

• Lindsay Stromberg, Vice President of Employee Operations & Experience

• Craig Stancher, Director of Member Experience

Volunteer & Engagement Committee

• Cindi Jaeger, Vice President of Account Servicing & Electronic Funds

• Jessica Towle, Development & Design Supervisor

• Kaylee Harvey, Sr. Human Resources Business Partner

• Linda Rosin, Database Administrator

• Emily Clark, Project Intake Manager

• Tania Hargraves, Email Marketing Specialist

• Jennifer Eberhardy, Content Strategist & Copywriter

Season of Giving Planning

• Bailey Sleeper

• Shannon Schoenberg

• Kaylee Harvey

• Cindi Jaeger

• Jennifer Eberhardy

• Jennifer Kochan, Senior Internal Communications & Culture Specialist

• Jessica Hoerter, Activities & Events Specialist

Heritage Credit Union Legacy Committee & Administration

• Heather Ristow, Senior Vice President of Marketing

• Josie Matuszak, Director of Product & Channel Marketing

• Chelsea Menge, Director of Branch Operations

• Jenny Fox, M&A Marketing Consultant

• Matt Young

• Greg Cullen

• Keith Schmidt



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