Empowered by Bank of America, Jonathan Sewell makes a difference at Oregon Food Bank

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: JONATHAN SEWELL - Jonathan Sewell has enjoyed bringing his 7-year-old daughter, Ava, with him to volunteer at the Oregon Food Bank. The Oregon Food Bank has a special place in Jonathan Sewell's heart.

The Gresham resident and business banking relationship manager for Bank of America grew up relying on the support of the food bank because his mother and grandmother needed assistance.

"It was our key resource for food," Sewell said. "So now that I have the opportunity to support the food bank I do as much as I can."

Sewell is able to leverage the resources at Bank of America to support the Oregon Food Bank and many other deserving organizations, joining his fellow employees in an effort to better their community.

Through the Bank of America Community Volunteers, the employees can donate their time and direct funds to help groups they are passionate about. For Sewell that is the Oregon Food Bank, where he works in the freezer and cooler, stacks dry foods and sorts through the fresh fruits and vegetables.

Other focuses are on housing and job creation.

In 2017 Bank of America employees volunteered 13,000 hours locally, 600 with the Oregon Food Bank. Many were also joined by friends and family. For Sewell that became an opportunity to foster a love of volunteering in his oldest daughter, 7-year-old Ava.

"She became curious why I would be gone in the evenings wearing my red volunteer shirt," Sewell said.

After explaining the work he was doing in the community, Ava joined her dad at the food bank a little over a year ago for the Bank of America MLK Day of Service.

"She had a glow to her after helping," Sewell said. "Now my youngest (4-year-old) daughter wants to join too," he said.

Sewell said Bank of America has been great supporting his passions for volunteering, and stressed the importance of other businesses adopting similar practices.

The bank offers two hours of paid time off each week for employees to volunteer or help at charities.

Any amount of money that is donated by an employee is matched up to $5,000, and if someone spends 50 hours with one group they can direct a small grant to it from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

Last year the foundation donated $2.5 million in the Portland-Vancouver area.

"I want to help and do my part," Sewell said. "I feel compelled to make a difference, and it's nice that my company empowers me."

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