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Wendy Sempf of Rochester Receives $5,000 In Seed Money

Community Roots | December 30, 2022

Bob Baudhuin and Matt McMartin from our Rochester Civic Center branch recognized Wendy Sempf of Rochester just days before Christmas with $5,000 in cash as our 14th and final recipient of the bank's on-going Seed Money campaign. This campaign was created to help Home Federal and its employees recognize and reward the individuals who selflessly give back to the communities we serve.

Who is Wendy Sempf?

Wendy is a Rochester resident who understands the importance of giving back thanks to her upbringing. She grew up in a community that believed in helping others and watched her mother continuously give back. The lessons she learned in her childhood have propelled her to dedicate her life to giving back whenever and however she can. Wendy elaborated, “What we had, my mother would share with others. [I’m] just trying to share and continue that legacy that was given to me.”

For someone like Wendy, who is constantly helping others, it’s hard for her efforts to go unnoticed. “She is an unwavering, dedicated, and compassionate person with a servant's heart who is always striving to make a difference in her community,” Joshua Poencet, a friend of Wendy’s, revealed after the surprise.

What Makes Wendy Sempf So Deserving?

Since the early ‘90s, she has volunteered with the Community Food Response. Her roles have varied over the years, but she became Board President in 2019, just 9 months before COVID hit in 2020, which provided its own unique challenges for the organization. While Wendy was president, she helped coordinate and move the Community Food Response – not once, but twice! – and helped persevere through the pandemic.

The Community Food Response is a volunteer-led non-profit that started in 1993 and provides free meals to people experiencing food insecurity. All food and meals are donated from local grocery stores, healthcare facilities, restaurants, and other organizations to help reduce food waste within the community and provide people with meals every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4-6pm at 120 First St. NE in Rochester.

Wendy’s nominator, Carol Fisher, wanted to make sure we understood her impact on keeping the program up and running to continue helping others. “She works tirelessly to help feed those in need in the Rochester area. The organization has persevered through the pandemic without missing a beat [because] Wendy has been the leader and worker bee through all of this.” Joshua also provided insight into how important Wendy has been in the success of the Community Food Response. “She kept the organization going and kept people’s spirits up and is an all-around amazing, compassionate individual that wants to feed other people.”

Where Did We Surprise Wendy Sempf?

We surprised Wendy the week before Christmas at the Community Food Response while she was helping sort food. As the snow was falling outside, Home Federal Rochester’s Market Vice President Bob Baudhuin and Branch Manager Matt McMartin along with Home Federal’s camera crew entered the room full of coolers to find Wendy.

As Matt explained that she was receiving a $5,000 reward as our Seed Money “Grand Finale” recipient (compared to the 13 others who each received $1,000 rewards throughout the campaign), all Wendy could do was take the cash in disbelief.

It did not come as a surprise when Wendy immediately discussed giving the funds back to Community Food Response. “I just received $5,000 in Seed Money to be used for Community Food Response. It’ll be great, we can always use [the funds], there’s always extra stuff we need.”

Not only was Wendy grateful for the reward, but Joshua was as well. “I’d like to thank Home Federal for giving this grant to Wendy for the work she does. And to all the recipients who received a grant for helping their communities.”

Why is Giving Back to the Community So Important?

Since Wendy has been giving back for many years, she often experiences the multiple emotions that come with helping the community and even sees who it truly impacts. “From giving back, you get a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment,” Wendy elaborated. She has also witnessed the wide range of individuals that need help, even if they are not whom one would typically think needs it. “You’re able to see that the people that need the food here are your everyday working people.”

Joshua also similarly believes in helping to grow the community. “It’s important to give back because in this life we have each other, and we have this one world to live in. it’s important to give back so that we all can grow and live together.”

How can You Help the Community Food Response?

There are multiple ways to help the Community Food Response. They depend on community partners to provide food donations of unused food and non-perishable items. To make sure everyone can get their food, Community Food Response depends on volunteers to assist in picking up donations, sorting food, and serving community members as they come to pick up their meals.

If a restaurant or organization is interested in donating food or doing a food drive, the easiest way to get ahold of Community Food Response is to email them directly. Volunteers can also go to their website to sign up for available volunteer opportunities.

Home Federal Believes in “Giving Today to Help Grow Tomorrow”

Seed Money was created to help recognize and reward the local “do-gooders” going above and beyond in their communities and Wendy’s efforts are well deserving of the final recognition. To help highlight how much Wendy impacts others in Rochester, we recorded her Seed Money surprise and posted it to our Youtube channel. Feel free to view Wendy and all other 13 recipients' videos, to see the full impact that all the Seed Money recipients are providing to our communities.

Throughout 2022, we have gifted nearly $20,000 in cash to individuals from the communities we serve for the various way they give back. “We hope that recognizing the fourteen un-sung heroes throughout this campaign has inspired others to continue to ‘give today to help grow tomorrow,’” Bob shared after the campaign’s final surprise.  

“All of us at Home Federal want to thank our recipients and the many others nominated for all you have done to continue to give back and help others through your various passions, time, and talents,” Matt added at the end of Wendy’s surprise. “Our communities thrive because of un-sung heroes like you.”

We thank individuals, like Wendy, for all they do in the communities we serve. See our other Seed Money stories and how we’re giving back by visiting our Seed Money page.

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