Associated Bank colleagues in Chicago recently set sail across Lake Michigan with residents of Friedman Place—a supportive living community in Chicago for the blind and visually impaired. The Chicago colleagues helped organize a day trip with Friedman Place on Tall Ship Windy by donating tickets to their local residents.

Friedman Place provides housing and services to low-income individuals who may, without Friedman Place, be forced to live in a nursing home. Over 40% of their residents experience total blindness, and the remaining are legally blind.

The trip allowed the residents to relax and express their independence on a Windy City Tall Ship cruise around Chicago’s lakefront. Residents were joined by 14 Associated colleagues who volunteered their assistance to make the trip safe and fun.

Helping organize the trip was Mary Haley, deposit services manager – CRE, at Associated Bank. Haley has been volunteering at Friedman Place for the past five years and wanted to do something special for the residents who have become more than friends to her.

“The residents really enjoy outdoor excursions, especially on Lake Michigan, which made this trip so great,” said Haley. “I witnessed colleagues sitting and listening to the residents and making them laugh. One-on-one conversations like these are what the residents look forward to.”

Ian Kay, senior bank manager, at Associated Bank, worked with Young Professional’s Association, Chicago, a group committed to providing colleagues with career development, leadership development, education, and networking opportunities. Together, they helped Haley fund and plan the event. “The tour was great,” said Kay. “Residents were helping raise the sails and singing with the crew members of the ship.”

Kay said his favorite part about the trip was interacting with the residents and the having the opportunity to learn more about them. Gaining new relationships has gotten him and other colleagues interested in volunteering for upcoming Friedman events.

“This mutually beneficial event showed me just how dedicated colleagues are in community involvement and team engagement,” said Haley. “Without the support Associated provided, residents at Friedman would not have been able to participate in this event.”