A big swing for charity

First Business Bank-Milwaukee

Golfers from the 2015 First Business Golf Invitational for Charity relax and socialize.

While golf outings have become a popular fundraising vehicle for individual nonprofit organizations, First Business Bank-Milwaukee has adopted a different way of giving back on the green.

For the past two years, the bank has organized and underwritten the First Business Golf Invitational for Charity, an event that challenges regional business owners’ golf game for the benefit of regional nonprofits.

The event, which replicates a charity initiative launched in the bank’s Madison market in 2011, pits golf teams of area C-suites against one another as each selects an organization to represent on the course. Funds are awarded to the nonprofits attached to the top performing teams.

Golfers from the 2015 First Business Golf Invitational for Charity relax and socialize.
Golfers from the 2015 First Business Golf Invitational for Charity relax and socialize.

Counting all golf invitational events the bank has hosted in southeastern Wisconsin and Madison, total event proceeds benefitting nonprofits have exceeded $210,000.

The outing is unique in that it brings together an intimate group of business executives who all value philanthropy but seek to give back to different organizations instead of playing for one designated organization, said Dave Vetta, president and chief executive officer of First Business Bank-Milwaukee.

“People share a common bond of giving back and contributing to the community, but they’re all playing for their own favorite charity,” Vetta said.

The outing also opens up a new forum through which area organizations can engage the business community, he said.

“It gives them a higher profile,” Vetta said. “It gives them a platform with which to tell their story and to engage others who aren’t familiar with their story.”

During the 2015 Milwaukee-area event, held July 27 at Westmoor Country Club in Brookfield, close to 40 executives organized into 20 teams took a day to give back. A tie between two teams led event proceeds to be split between victory organizations Meta House and Milwaukee Rescue Mission. Each pocketed $9,250 – all of which the organizations can use at their discretion.

Meta House, of Milwaukee, guides women struggling with substance abuse through recovery and works to break the generational cycle of addiction. The organization leverages gifts like the funds from First Business Bank to extend programs and services for individual clients for as long as they need the organization’s support.

Some recovery programs are only able to help a client for a set number of days, according to Amy Lindner, president and CEO of Meta House.

Funds from First Business Bank allow Meta House to remain engaged with a client as long as she needs its help, Lindner said.

“Private support like the support from the First Business Bank is exactly what makes that long-term commitment possible,” she said.

The organization was awarded funds thanks to winning golfers Mary Wendt of Motive Equipment and Greg Schultheis of Westmoor Country Club.

Milwaukee Rescue Mission’s gift was earned by golfers John Beagle and Tim Oleszczuk, both of Milwaukee-based Grace Matthews Inc.

Milwaukee Rescue Mission provides emergency shelter, food and clothing to thousands of area men, women and children in need each year. Along with hosting between 300 and 400 individuals per day through its shelter programs, the organization serves about 800 meals each day, which adds up to 300,000 meals a year, according to executive director Patrick Vanderburgh.

Funds from the golf outing could cover more than 4,000 meals, or about a week’s worth of meals, he estimates.

Milwaukee Rescue Mission was grateful to be involved in the event for the last two years and was thrilled to be among the winning organizations this year,” Vanderburgh said.

“They’re great community partners,” Vanderburgh said of First Business Bank.

BizTimes Media served as the media partner of this year’s local invitational.

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