On May 23, the Children’s Home & Aid community will come together at the Champions for Children Luncheon to celebrate creating hope, opportunity and bright futures for children, youth and families.

This year we proudly honor BMO Harris Bank as Corporate Partner of the Year. Ann Marie Wright, U.S. Chief Auditor for BMO Financial Group, will accept the award on their behalf.

Like Children’s Home & Aid, BMO Harris has a long history as a corporate and civic leader in Chicago. Founded in Chicago in 1882, BMO Harris has partnered with Children’s Home & Aid for more than 35 years through volunteer engagement, board leadership and financial investment of our programs. Their commitment to corporate responsibility is not only evident through financial contributions, but by its practice of encouraging employees to become involved with causes they’re passionate about.

We recently had a chance to learn more about their commitment to corporate responsibility and the secret to the longevity of our partnership. Here are a few words from Ann Marie:

The relationship between BMO Harris Bank and Children’s Home & Aid goes back many years. What has kept the relationship growing and strengthening over time? 

BMO Harris Bank has supported Children’s Home and Aid for over 35 years because we believe in their work to create hope, opportunity, and bright futures for children, youth and families. As communities change, we are committed to helping them grow. With a focus on collaboration, learning, and innovation, we work with community partners such as Children’s Home & Aid to achieve sustainable solutions and shape the future together.

What part of Children’s Home & Aid’s mission resonates most with you and your colleagues at BMO Harris?

The creation of hope and opportunities for children, youth, and families is something that resonates with me as well as my colleagues at BMO.

When we say, “We’re Here to Help,” those are not just words.  Helping the communities in which we live, work and thrive is engrained in who we are as a company and as professionals.

How does a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility impact your company culture at BMO Harris?  

We see the impact we have when we come together to make a difference in the lives of those who are vulnerable and in need of help. More than 90% of our employees participate in our annual employee giving campaign – this is how we translate our intentions into meaningful action.

You are passionate about making a difference and giving back to your community. What would you say to encourage young professionals who are looking to do the same?

I would tell young professionals that it can be a great development opportunity to work with not-for-profits in either a volunteer capacity or at the junior board/board level. However, it is important to be clear on what they have a passion for. Early in my career, I joined a board of a not-for-profit and quickly realized that I was not passionate about the mission. Not-for-profit organizations need a lot of resources which means time, talent and treasure. If you are going to commit to an organization, make sure it is something that you can commit the necessary time and have no hesitation about donating your money to the organization.

You sit on the board of trustees for Children’s Home & Aid. Why is it important for you to be personally involved in addition to your role with BMO Harris and their corporate impact?

My time on the board is just one small way I find that I can give back and make a difference in the lives of others. As a member of the board of trustees, I am proud of the work that is done to enrich the lives of over 40,000 children and families across Illinois.

What part of the mission of Children’s Home & Aid motivates you to be involved personally?

Creating opportunities and bright futures for children and families is the part of the mission that resonates with me personally. As the daughter of a single mother who was also a social worker by profession, I know first-hand how families need assistance to thrive and grow. Children’s Home & Aid provides the necessary support and resources to these children and families to just “level the playing field.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed these inspirational words from Ann Marie and plan to join us at Champions for Children on May 23 in Chicago.