Abby Sears: Her Purpose Is To Serve The Community, To Empower Women | Monthly business
CEDAR FALLS – Abby Sears is all about hope.
This is clear from Sears’ position as president of House of Hope, an organization that helps women overcome homelessness and work toward self-sufficiency.
She is part of the management team of Farmers State Bank, founded in Jesup, which has significantly expanded its presence in Waterloo-Cedar Falls in recent years. She works out of the bank’s offices at Tower Park at Kimball Avenue and at San Marnan Drive in Waterloo. She is in charge of FSB’s private banking division, as well as the bank’s cash management services.
She is also a member of the Cedar Falls Planning and Zoning Commission, the Cedar Valley Boys and Girls Clubs Finance Committee, teaches for Junior Achievement and previously served as Secretary of the Cedar Falls Rotary Club Board of Directors.
“The activities I participate in in Waterloo and Cedar Falls are primarily aimed at serving communities, making things more efficient and empowering women in the community,” she said. At House of Hope, she said, “we are focused on empowering women in the community and giving them and their families a better lifestyle than they currently are.” .
Sears, 37, has been with the FSB for seven years, having risen through the ranks to lead two departments. Originally from Decorah, she lived in Chicago for a while.
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“We moved to Cedar Valley, my husband, my oldest daughter and I, eight years ago,” she said. “We chose Cedar Valley as a great place to raise your children. That’s why we came back here.”
She had lived here before, having attended college and the remote location of the University of Upper Iowa in Waterloo.
Her husband Drew, a United States Marine Corps veteran and native of Indianapolis, now works in medical logistics after being an assistant in the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office and a third shift officer in the Police Department of Waterloo.
“He’s always focused on serving the community in a different capacity. I’ve also focused on serving where I can help,” she said. They have two daughters, Livia, 9, and Emme, 5.
Her relationships with the community through the bank and her relationship with Chicago led her to get involved in House of Hope.
“One of the connections I made in the community was Karin Rowe. She’s the executive director of House of Hope. She was with the Salvation Army at the time. She’s from Chicago, so we did. that connection with Chicago, and our friendship grew from there. ” Karen’s husband, Chuck, is a former manager of the local Boys and Girls Club.
“I’ve known Karin and Chuck for the entire time we’ve lived here. When she moved to House of Hope, it allowed me to connect with House of Hope,” about five years ago. Since then, we have made the capital. campaign with the new building of the former Christensen, Christensen & Bigelow orthodontic practice next to West Fourth Street in the Church Row area. “
A variety of services are offered there, including transitional housing and training in financial literacy, therapy, legal services, and general job search and life skills, often in collaboration with other agencies and institutions.
“One of the things that I really appreciate about House of Hope is that you empower women who are often at their lowest point of life and make a difference not only for them but for their children as well,” Sears said.
“Focusing on children and their families will help the community,” she explained. “My family is my inspiration. Having a husband who has served most of his career and two daughters, I want to make sure they have the best community possible.”
Drawing on her banking experience, she said, “I have also been able to help some mothers with different banking needs and by volunteering for financial literacy. “
“We are a Farmers State Bank group, we also try to volunteer in the organization to help with financial literacy and to learn. Because a lot of times people don’t know where to start if they haven’t. was educated even on what it takes to get a bank account or have a credit card. “
“It’s amazing to see the growth,” she said, noting that some women will complete their training at the transition center ahead of schedule and then link up with Habitat for Humanity to enter a new home. built.
“It’s great to see,” Sears said. “You go from a mom who could have been homeless two years ago, to now she has a house with her kids and her life has changed completely. Those staff there are amazing, working with moms and kids. kids to make sure they are successful and have the support they need. It’s definitely a full supportive environment. “
Sears finds great personal fulfillment in this work. “I grew up in a very supportive and loving family. So I’m trying to take that and make sure that not only does my family have it, but that I can help other people have that feeling and be successful in life. “
“I have had the pleasure of serving alongside Abby on the House of Hope Board of Directors,” said Seth Voight, House of Hope Board Member. “It was there that I saw firsthand his passion for serving members of the community. During its years of service, the organization has grown from being a couple of families to constructing a freestanding building housing 15 families, a staff full of case managers and over 100 people on a waiting list.
“Through his leadership and the amazing people who work at the House of Hope, we have seen tremendous growth in our ability to serve those of Cedar Valley,” Voight said. “I continue to be amazed at her tenacity in balancing her career success while giving all she has to several organizations in the community. “
“When you’re doing community service, you’re not doing it for an appointment or for someone to thank you,” Sears said. “You are doing it to make the community a better place.”