Renae Crane was a teenager and high school senior when she began working for Paducah Bank. Much has happened in the thirty-two years since: Renae married Tobin Crane, raised a family, continued her education through several banking schools, became a grandmother, and grew into an active community volunteer.
A Paducah Bank Vice President and Sales Manager for the past ten years, Renae could consider her life full with family, work, and personal interests. But she also finds time to give back to the community she loves.
Renae volunteers for the United Way, Habitat for Humanity, the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, and Kare for Kids, a non-profit organization that provides “extras” for children in foster care. Kare for Kids hosts an annual Christmas event, culminating in a party for the young participants, all of whom are selected by social workers from the Cabinet for Families and Children.
Q: What is the focus of the Kare for Kids program?
RENAE: The purpose is to provide entertainment, recreation, social opportunities, mentoring, and gifts for children in foster care. The money we raise mostly supports the Christmas party, but we have funded camps (band, school sports, Camp Currie, etc.) for some of the children.
Q: What do you do in your role as a Kare for Kids volunteer?
RENAE: I get to spend the day with a foster child. We have pizza together, play games and make crafts, then do a little shopping at Wal-Mart. It’s all about them for a day. We do whatever they want.
Q: How did you become involved with this program, and how long have you been a program volunteer?
RENAE: I became a volunteer because of my sister-in-law, Shaun Crane. She started the program, and the more it grew, the more volunteers she needed. The program started in 1997, and I have been a volunteer for about the last seven years.
Q: What personal benefit do you receive by volunteering?
RENAE: The benefit is satisfaction. When the child first arrives it is very hard for them to open up. Some have been through so much, but once they realize there is no harm, they open up their hearts and let you in. We do not talk about their situation—just focus on them for the day. The children love the program, and it shows in their attitudes and smiles that day. The satisfaction that you have made this child’s day is why I do it.
Q: Do you think this program and the involvement of volunteers affects the overall community?
RENAE: Yes, not only do I develop a relationship with a child, but also with all the other volunteers. Volunteering is such a selfless act and everyone involved benefits; you are sharing your time and energy with a child who needs it. People who volunteer for this program return each year. It’s addicting. You want to help, you want to give your time, and you want to see these kids smile. I believe if everyone in the community volunteered, they would reap these same rewards, ultimately enhancing their lives.
Q: Is there one specific experience or incident from your volunteer work that you have found especially meaningful?
RENAE: There are many, but I will share a few. When we go shopping, the kids always buy for others instead of just buying for themselves. They want to give as well, so they buy something for their foster parents. One year I had a teenager who wanted a prepaid cell phone. We exchanged cell numbers and sent text messages to each other several times over the year. She would remember me on holidays and send me texts wishing me well. These are just a few of the many wonderful experiences I have had.
Renae manages Paducah Bank’s Strawberry Hill banking center. “One of the many benefits of working at Paducah Bank is that our bank truly values volunteerism and encourages employees to be active community members, offering support that makes volunteering possible,” Renae comments.
“Paducah Bank allows me to become involved in any organization that I would like to support. They allow me to attend meetings, and they often support many of the organizations themselves. If Paducah Bank didn’t support my involvement, I’m not sure I would be able to reach out to the many organizations that help our community.”