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Business Highlight of the Week - From Country School to Cornerstone

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Matías Castaño, YCDC's Intern wrote this article as a different perspective on Cornerstone Bank.

07 December 2020

“A person must work for his fellow man. We’re all commissioned to make the world a better place. If a man works hard, he will succeed. But if he uses every dime for himself, it’s no fun. Money is not the measure of a man; it’s what he does with it. I’ve enjoyed all the honors, but I don’t feel that I deserve them. I did no more than the next man.” (Elijah A. Levitt, 1960’s)

Hi, my name is Matías Castaño and that was a quote from one of the greatest impacts York County has seen in the last five decades. I want to invite you on a journey that will help us get to know the exceptional businesses that surround us here in York County.

Today, we highlight Cornerstone Bank. A bank that has a rich background and loves to give back to the community that helped it grow. With over 30 locations, 18 insurance offices, many career opportunities, and sponsorships all spread out amongst numerous thriving communities in Nebraska, this bank’s headquarters remain in the city where it all began.

Through charitable contributions and involvement, Cornerstone has supported a wide range of organizations and foundations. Some of these include: Nebraska’s Future Farmers of America (FFA), York College, Cass County, Sheldon Museum of Art, Cornerstone Complex of York, and many more.

Service is one of Cornerstone’s key principles. Their dedication to the community started with executives who invested their time and money and goes all the way to the employees throughout the company who give thousands of hours every year volunteering in the community.

While entering the Corporate Headquarters, I got to meet many of these great and interesting people, I was even lucky enough to speak to a few remarkable employees, and they all shared a similar perspective towards Cornerstone. “Feels like a family here,” expressed Miranda, a teller who’s accumulated over 10 years of experience at Cornerstone. When asked to describe the company in two words, she chose “understanding” and “loyal.”

With hopes of getting an insider’s take on Cornerstone, I decided to reach out to Mandy Hengelfelt, an employee for 17 years who also happens to be the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. Mandy was able to direct me to a few videos produced for the company’s social media platforms, one of which, she takes part in. The video showed a different point of view of the company, hinting at what they truly value. When asked what her favorite part of working at cornerstone is, Mandy, brings up the ability to be around her co-workers. Cornerstone Bank is “very family-oriented,” Mandy said. By wanting you to be part of the family, and at the same time understanding that you have a family outside of the bank, I’d say that Cornerstone’s core value, is family.

A few days after contacting Mandy, I came across the opportunity to speak with Diego Korol, one of York College’s brightest students. Throughout his four years in York, Korol has had many opportunities, one of those being an internship at Cornerstone this last summer. “Since day one, I felt like part of the family, they were very welcoming,” Diego said. “Professional” and “caring” were the two words Diego chose to describe Cornerstone with, and he didn’t let me leave without saying that he “will be forever grateful for the opportunity” that Cornerstone gave him.

Just like Diego, I’ve been very happy with the opportunities I’ve had in York. So when asked to write an article on Cornerstone Bank, I was thrilled with the idea of possibly speaking with Mr. Holthus. One of the first things I had in mind, was asking how such a big name in banking came to be so generous. Now, although our schedules made it difficult to communicate, I was granted the next best thing, From Country School to Cornerstone; a book on the history of the Holthus Family of York. So I began to flip through the pages.

As I was reading, I came across the answer to one of my many curiosities, where does Cornerstone’s generosity come from? Found in between the hardback covers, Kelly talks about a mentor of his, someone he respected and looked up to with admiration. His name, Elijah A. Levitt, guilty of endless counts of generosity.

Mr. Levitt had many philosophies, one of which Kelly shows appreciation for by quoting in his book, “Donate when you’re alive so you can enjoy what you’re giving to, instead of waiting and putting it in your will.”

Levitt made an impact in the lives of many. And in the life of Kelly Holthus, well, let’s just say he reinforced the famous saying, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. In his time as CEO of Cornerstone, Kelly Holthus implemented some of his mentor’s teachings, ultimately, coming up with philosophies of his own.

“I came to York with nothing. I made my living here, and York has been good to us. I decided it was time to give back.” (Kelly Holthus)

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