Spotlight on Center Stage Program Corporate Partner, Fox Communities Credit Union

May 13, 2024

Headquartered in Appleton, Fox Communities Credit Union is the Corporate Partner for the Fox Cities P.A.C.’s Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program. Fox Communities Credit Union’s Director of Community Engagement, Heather Wessley, shares her story below on the collaborate partnership between Fox Communities Credit Union and the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

The Fox Cities P.A.C. is the heart of our community. The performances and the talent that has been brought to Northeast Wisconsin is mind-blowing. Sitting through a show or performance can take you away for a moment from the hustle and bustle of real life. It is fun to get submerged in what is happening on stage while you are there. It is magical.
Heather Wessley – Fox Communities Credit Union Director of Community Engagement

As Director of Community Engagement, I oversee everything community-facing which includes the relationships with our non-profit organizations, chambers, business associations and community events. Though we offer similar services to a bank, there is one huge difference: other financial institutions may exist to make profits for their shareholders, but as a credit union building stronger financial futures, Fox Communities is not-for-profit.

The tale of Fox Communities Credit Union begins as if pulled from the pages of an inspiring children’s storybook. A group of workers at the Combined Locks Mill pooled their funds to form the Combined Locks Credit Union on October 15, 1937. Their goal: provide loans to their fellow workers in need and have ownership over where they kept their deposit accounts. Their first loan showed exactly where their hearts were – they provided a fellow mill worker with funds to help buy Christmas presents for his family. Within two years of forming, the credit union had 213 members.

As word spread throughout the mill regarding the credit union’s good work, more workers left their banks to become members. By 1974, the credit union reached $1 million in assets. In 1980, it opened its first standalone branch. With growth came the ability to help make life happen for even more people. We hold the same values and principles today as we did 87 years ago. Our goal at Fox Communities Credit Union is to develop partnerships with our members, communities and Fox Family and deepen those relationships, making our community a better place to live, work and raise families!

Having the arts in your life makes you a more well-rounded person. Fox Communities has been fortunate to be a part of the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program since its inception in the 2016-17 Season. This program gives high school students throughout Northeast Wisconsin the capabilities that not everyone has and helps them “find their people” doing something they enjoy and something they can advance in! These students have the opportunity to meet and connect with other like-minded individuals that aren’t necessarily from their school. We are very fortunate to be able to offer this to so many students throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The number of schools that continue to join the program year after year shows the value of what it does for these kids.

Thousands of talented students have graced that stage in Thrivent Hall. My favorite memory is from when one of our own Fox Family member’s children, Josh Thone, was one of the two nominees selected at the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Showcase in June 2022 to represent the program in a national showcase (The Jimmy Awards®) held in New York. I have known this kid since he was a little boy, and to see him WIN when he was up against all of that talent… and the reaction from him, his friends, his family and his Fox family… it was a beautiful thing!

I have seen the friendships made backstage before and after the Center Stage Program… and those friendships will last a lifetime! I have also seen first-hand how the Center Stage Program has helped prepare high school students to continue their journey in the performing arts and similar industries after they graduate.
Heather Wessley – Fox Communities Credit Union Director of Community Engagement

I am lucky to have the ability to visit the Fox Cities P.A.C. for both my work and social life. There have been so many shows and other community events that I have attended, oftentimes with friends. My favorite part is now bringing my 11-year-old daughter to shows. She loves dressing up and going on a date night with mom to take in a performance! Beyond Broadway performances, I visit the Center for various events including Mile of Music, Appleton School District and the Chamber of Commerce to name a few. I can’t walk into the Center without seeing so many of our community partners.

The support that business partners and community members give to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center is unbelievable, helping make so many incredible shared experiences possible. I tell people all the time how lucky we are to have the Fox Cities P.A.C. in our community. It brings people together and makes the Fox Cities a wonderful place to live!
Heather Wessley – Fox Communities Credit Union Director of Community Engagement

Written by guest writer, Heather Wessley, Director of Community Engagement
Fox Communities Credit Union