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Commentary - Take advantage of the Bremer Emergency Fund

By David Kjos, president and CEO of Bremer Bank, Alexandria, MN

These are challenging times for many individuals and families across the country and even right here in our own community. Lending a helping hand can mean the difference between instability and security, enabling families and individuals to meet emergency needs and retain homes or jobs.

To address those critical needs, the Otto Bremer Foundation, together with Bremer Banks, created the Bremer Emergency Fund. The fund will enable nonprofits to offer direct financial assistance to individuals and families in Bremer communities who are struggling to fund basics such as food, warm and stable housing, health care or reliable transportation in the face of increased unemployment, health challenges and skyrocketing costs.

The fund, which includes grants from the foundation supplemented by donations from Bremer banks, recently provided $4.2 million to organization in Bremer communities across Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Here in Alexandria, $49,000 was distributed, in addition to $100,000 in surrounding communities of Starbuck, Morris, Fergus Falls and Elbow Lake, so that nonprofits can distribute direct emergency funds to individuals and families in our community who will benefit from financial assistance - truly a helping hand in these challenging times.

The Bremer Emergency Fund honors the legacy and vision of our founder, Otto Bremer, who believed that people could survive and flourish if they had help at critical times. In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, Otto Bremer liquidated many of his personal assets to help the "countryside banks" he owned ride out of those hard times.

We take this call to action seriously. It reflects our commitment to the community and reinforces our vision of building healthy communities through partnerships. A special thank you to our clients, who enable us to deliver profits to the Otto Bremer Foundation. A significant portion of our bank profits are shared with the foundation as dividends, enabling the foundation to make grants, like the Bremer Emergency Fund, in our community.

Bremer is committed to building healthy communities through partnerships. To succeed, we all need to help where and when we can. I invite other individuals and businesses to offer a helping hand to someone who is struggling - our whole community is the healthier for your support.