In The Community

Underlying Country Club Bank’s philanthropic strategy is the belief that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” It is a philosophy the late Byron G. Thompson and former chairman of Country Club Bank lived and breathed. It’s a principle upon which he built the bank and one that continues to guide the second and third generations of Thompson family members as they and their leadership team steer the organization into the future.

sleepyhead beds
Sleepyhead Beds

Encouraging associates to serve on civic boards and committees builds the local community and also empowers our associates. CCB associates are chamber of commerce leaders, serve on boards and committees related to economic development, devote time to student and development-related initiatives at local colleges and universities, work with our first responders and veterans, and are involved in initiatives to create opportunities for businesses and residents in underserved areas of our community.

Additionally, our "Banking on KC" podcast, which recently celebrated its 150th weekly episode, has earned a reputation for connecting the people and organizations in Kansas City who have resources to share and are making Kansas City a better place for all.

byron thompson Byron grew up in a small town in the aftermath of the Great Depression, where neighbor helping neighbor, where members of the community lifting one another up, was an ingrained way of life.

He carried that deep-rooted belief into his approach to business. Moving to Kansas City as a young man with no business connections or financial resources, he believed that if you build a business that supports the community, the community will support you. Even as a struggling entrepreneur, he held steadfastly to the notion that a bank could grow by supporting the personal and business dreams of others. Further, he believed that as the bank expanded, it could not only support the business needs of the community but also work to better the community itself. His personal loan to Operation Breakthrough is a case in point.

When "Belief" Is a Breakthrough. When Sister Corita Bussanmas and Sister Berta Sailer, co-founders of Operation Breakthrough, learned the Standard Oil service station at 31st and Paseo was available for lease in 1973, they saw it as an opportunity to earn money for the organization and provide work experience for the kids Operation Breakthrough served.

The only thing standing between the two sisters and the gas pump was $4,000. That’s the amount of money Standard Oil wanted for a deposit.

sister berta sailer and sister coria bussanmas
Sister Berta Sailer and Sister Corita Bussanmas

After more than a dozen rejections from bankers throughout the city, the two sisters called on Byron Thompson, who was then a senior vice president at First National Bank. Knowing their prospects of securing the loan were slim to none, the sisters nonetheless shared their request with Mr. Thompson, explaining their larger vision of using the gas station to financially sustain Operation Breakthrough and continue their mission of providing childcare for the working poor.

Mr. Thompson replied, "Sisters, there's no way the bank can make this loan. But my wife and I will."

Mary Esselman, president and CEO of Operation Breakthrough said, "You could tell he believed in them."

The gas station wasn't the huge moneymaker the sisters thought it would be during the four years Operation Breakthrough leased it, but that wasn't the point.

"The point was his belief in them and their ability to serve the community by serving families in need," said Esselman. "That's what was important. The sisters never doubted their ability to carry out their mission. But when they were able to go to Mr. Thompson, and he validated their beliefs, that went a long way for them to continue to build that belief in themselves. And I look at it 50 years later, and the thousands of kids who have come through the doors. The sisters were able to translate that belief into the kids and families being able to believe in their ability to move forward too."

Although making the loan was risky, Esselman said Mr. Thompson's willingness to personally do so "tells you what kind of man he was. Just believing in them—that's the first spark. When someone believes in you, it builds your own belief in yourself and your ability to carry out the work."

She added, "If that's the kind of culture he was building the bank around, it's no wonder that it's become so successful in the community and something that is thought of really highly."

Sadly, Sisters Corita (2021) and Berta (2024) have passed, but their legacy of caring for Kansas Citians in need lives on.

Building a "Culture" of Philanthropy

Byron knew that one person can accomplish only so much working alone. So, as he grew Country Club Bank, he surrounded himself with people who shared his principles and who gave of themselves at work and in the community. Today that unwavering commitment to fostering and supporting a culture of philanthropy, to leaving a better world, is codified in formal programs at Country Club Bank that encourage associates to share their time, talents and treasures.

As the bank has grown, one of our priorities has been ensuring that the philanthropic values Byron personified are passed on to our "extended family" of associates, so that a culture of giving is preserved.

We find that encouraging philanthropy promotes our core values of integrity, achievement, compassion, teamwork and enthusiasm. Country Club Bank has leveraged its vast connections and resources to meet individuals and the community where they are, at the moment, in terms of need—giving voice to the voiceless, providing the underrepresented with a seat at the table, offering a platform to artists and other creatives to make them more visible, connecting entrepreneurs and innovators with resources, and welcoming veterans back to civilian life.

toys for tots
Toys for Tots

People Matter. In keeping with Byron’s advice to "surround yourself with good people," we make a conscious effort to hire associates who have a strong sense of community, and we encourage and celebrate associates’ charitable and volunteer endeavors—by highlighting them in our internal newsletter, on social media and in other ways.

Intentionality. We have an internal charitable committee that oversees sponsorships and donations, with nearly 200 agencies receiving charitable contributions from the bank even during the pandemic when many organizations were cutting back on donations.

Though the range of organizations the bank supports is diverse—encompassing education, health, the arts and social services—a special focus is placed on nonprofit organizations serving women, children and families, particularly programs that have generational impact.

Building Relationships. We invite representatives from local nonprofits to our monthly all-team meetings so associates can meet them and hear firsthand about their missions and the impact they make on the community.

As a result of these efforts, a philanthropic mindset is rooted in the daily culture of our CCB family of associates. These values built the foundation of Country Club Bank, and they continue to build it today, a reminder from Byron to "do well, and do good."

2023 — MIBA Forvis Community Award

2023 — CCB’s employee-run charitable giving committee – Team Impact – provides volunteer opportunities for associates across our organization.

  • Over 700 hours of volunteer time off (VTO) used.
  • 32 local charitable organizations served.
  • Nearly $30,000 donated by associates for Hometown Fridays.*

Country Club Bank’s community work has been acknowledged several times in recent years.

2022 — Ingram’s magazine awarded Country Club Bank the annual Corporate Champions Award for demonstrating exceptional philanthropic leadership as a company and for their significant contributions to the Kansas City region overall.

2022 — The Women’s Employment Network awarded the annual Beth K. Smith Award to Country Club Bank and Mary O’Connor (Byron’s daughter) for their support of women in our community and for advancing WEN’s mission of helping women raise their self-esteem and achieving economic independence through sustained employment.

2021 — The American Banking Association Foundation awarded Mary O’Connor the annual George Bailey Distinguished Service Award for community leadership and commitment to helping those in need.

2015 — Nonprofit Connect named the Thompson family and Country Club Bank as Nonprofit Connect’s Business Philanthropists of the Year for a history of charitable donations and volunteer commitments in Kansas City. As she accepted the award, Byron’s daughter Mary reminded luncheon attendees that “In whatever ways we can, those who can care must care, not as an obligation but as a privilege; for those blessed with education to offer education to others; for those who are fed to feed the hungry; for those who are housed to offer shelter; for those who have the love and support of a family to be family to the lonely; and to offer opportunity to the hopeless.”

* Associates can wear local KC-themed t-shirts each Friday when they donate to local charities.

CCB’s Team Impact initiative organizes volunteer opportunities for associates and selects the nonprofit benefactors of Hometown Friday contributions. Further, CCB provides generous Volunteer Time Off (VTO) so associates can perform community work during their working hours. As a result of VTO/Hometown Friday efforts, nearly 100 charities were recipients of volunteer hours and donations in 2022 alone.

lead to read
Lead to Read

As a founding Corporate Work-Study Partner with Cristo Rey High School, we enjoy offering many of their young adults not only an internship but a career once they graduate.

"We make positive memories and relationships with the interns from Cristo Rey. I am still in touch with many past interns."

– Jennie Burt, AVP Financial Center Manager

Member FDIC / Equal Housing Lender

Trust, Investment and Insurance products and Services:

  • Are Not Insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency.
  • Are Not deposits of, or guaranteed by, the Bank or any Bank affiliate.
  • May lose value.

Country Club Bank is an Equal Opportunity Employer