What Matters Most – Community Episode with Ashley Burleson

In today's community episode, we talk with Ashley Burleson, Senior Relationship Advisor at the Hagerstown Community Office. We discuss the role of community bankers and one particularly touching story of community support.


Announcer: Welcome to the “What Matters Most” podcast presented by First United Bank & Trust. That’s my bank. Visit us today at mybank.com.

Eric: Hello, and welcome to “What Matters Most,” the podcast all about finances, community, savings, and security for you, your family, and your business. This podcast is brought to you by the helpful folks at My Bank, First United Bank & Trust. I’m your host, Eric Nutter. And in today’s episode, what matters most is our community. And for this helpful community edition of the podcast, I’m thankful to be joined remotely today by Ashley Burleson, senior relationship advisor at First United in Hagerstown. Good morning, Ashley. How you doing?

Ashley: Good morning, Eric. I’m doing great.

Eric: Great. Thanks so much for joining me here today. I really appreciate it.

Ashley: Sure.

Eric: So, Ashley, on these community episodes, we kind of start to dig in a little bit to some of the folks that work here at First United. And so, I’d like to start off by just tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell me about the path that brought you here to First United and to your role in banking.

Ashley: Sure. So, I started here, I was really young. I was 19. So, I’ve been here a long time. It’s a great company to work for. I was in college whenever I started my part-time job here at the bank. And you know, after the first year or so, the bank started helping me pay for college. I got my business degree from Frostburg State University. I filled some different roles throughout my career here at the bank. I was a teller, a head teller, and then I moved into the learning and development department where I was a trainer for about 10 years. And then most recently, I moved back over into the retail side of things and that’s where I landed here as the senior relationship advisor at the Hagerstown branch.

Eric: Cool. So, was it just that experience and, you know, continued work at the bank that kept you here, or what was it about banking that put you in this position?

Ashley: Sure. So, I mean, I don’t think anybody really grows up and says, “I want to be a banker.” You know, when you kind of fall into something that is interesting and makes you feel like you’re making a difference in people’s lives, you know, it’s something that’s easy to stick to. This particular institution, you know, I think it’s just a really great atmosphere to work in. I feel like I’m doing something good when I come to work here. So, that’s kind of what’s kept me around and what got me hooked into the banking industry.

Eric: Awesome. Well, let’s talk about your current role. So, senior relationship advisor, what does that involve?

Ashley: So, we have kind of…everybody at the branch here can do everything and I think that’s really great. We call it the universal banker concept. The senior relationship advisor is kind of the leader of the team here at the branch, you know, with the relationship advisors providing most of the day-to-day service, the senior relationship advisor, you know…

Eric: So, it sounds like the senior relationship advisor role is sort of this universal I can help any of your financial challenges role. So, you can essentially help people out in whatever may come their way, right?

Ashley: Sure.

Eric: So, with that in mind, if you’re dealing day to day, you see a lot of clients. Well, I mean, the pandemic has certainly disrupted how we go about that, I’m sure. But you deal day to day with all sorts of different folks within the community. So, tell us about what is your favorite thing about your job? Like how has that impacted your life, I guess?

Ashley: Sure. So, I mean, my favorite part of my job is being able to come to work, see my customers, you know, whether it’s a customer I’ve known for years or somebody brand new walking into the bank, you know, just knowing that there’s the opportunity to help them in their financial life or maybe they just want to chat, you know, it’s a great job. People come here to the bank to do business, but they also come here to socialize and it’s just a fun job. I look forward to coming to work every day.

Eric: That’s awesome. So, do you have any aspects of it that are more challenging?

Ashley: I mean, I think every job has its challenges. There are times whenever you can’t do something for someone and that’s disappointing. Or you know, you lose customers, they move away or go away to school, you know, whatever happens, and that’s tough, but you know, just making those connections is worth it.

Eric: Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s clear in the way you talk about your job and the role that you play in people’s lives, that you have a passion for helping people. And I think that speaks to the nature of a lot of the folks that work at First United. And I think that the main reason that I wanted to have you as a guest on our podcast is because of a story that recently ran in “The Herald-Mail.” So, Herald-Mail’s news outlet in the area where Ashley works, and the story came out about a month ago, and the headline was, you know, “Residents displaced after apartment building fire.” So, it was a tragic story. There’s a whole bunch of apartments that caught fire. Luckily no one was injured. And but, you know, there was quite a bit of loss.

And in the article, I’ll just read a little bit of it here, “Nobody was hurt. The first responders were great.” This person that was speaking, he said, “Twenty-four apartments were affected in the two-year-old building. We’re hoping that eight of the apartments are going to be salvageable. Multiple fire and rescue units, as well as the Washington County Sheriff’s deputies, were sent to the scene.” And then they talked to Patsy Hays, so who’s 83 and lived on the first floor of the building. “She sat bundled in a blanket watching the firefighters work. She said, ‘I didn’t even know there was a fire until I heard the buzzers go off.’ She said someone helped her outside. ‘I wasn’t able to even get my keys or anything.’ Hays who has no close relatives nearby, was joined by Ashley Burleson. ‘I’m her banker,’ said Burleson, who works at First United Bank & Trust. ‘She’s kind of my adopted mom.’ Burleson was listed as Hays’ emergency contact and was called by the property manager to be with her.” And I love that she ended by saying, “‘I trust in God.’ Hays said, ‘I always depend on God for everything.'” And that just makes me tear up.

So, Ashley, this is a completely amazing story that, you know, thankfully, no one was injured in the fire. However, just in the midst of this story, a banker appears and is the emergency contact for this woman who, you know, lost her home. So, I wanted to ask you on because it’s not often, I think, in today’s world that you hear about people who care about others outside of their circle, outside of their own world as deeply as a lot of the folks here do and as obviously, as you do. Tell me a little bit about how that relationship began, if you can, and how is Patsy doing?

Ashley: Sure. So, Patsy, you know, just like a lot of people who begin a relationship, just walked into the branch one day, and that’s where our story began. But really the beginning of the pandemic was when we started to have a closer relationship. As the article mentioned, she doesn’t have many friends or family that live around here. So, you know, she’s 83 years old. I didn’t want her going to the grocery store by herself and, you know, being exposed to whatever she may be. So, I started adding some of her groceries to my weekly order pickup and, you know, just seeing her every week and providing that little service kind of just helped our relationship to grow.

So, I guess when her house caught on fire, I was the first person she thought of to call. And you know, there’s nothing easy about getting a phone call that says your friend…her house is burning down. So, of course, I went to her because who else is going to go help her? And you don’t want Patsy sitting there by herself. So, we made it through that day together. It was tough, tougher for her obviously than me. She’s doing fine right now. She’s still looking for an apartment. Apparently, handicap-accessible apartments are hard to come by. So, we’ve got her in a temporary situation, but I just saw her last night to take her some of her favorite foods over at the hotel where she’s staying, and she’s in high spirits and she’s doing great. So, yeah, that’s about it.

Eric: Well, I mean, just on behalf of Patsy, I thank you for your effort in the community. I think that is such a genuine and beautiful thing, and I really appreciate your willingness to go above and beyond and help the community out and folks like Patsy. It’s really touching.

Ashley: Thank you. It’s embarrassing really, but I mean, I just…

Eric: Well, I mean, I think it is expected I think that you would be humble about it. But I don’t want to let that go without people knowing about it. So, I think that it’s a great thing that you did and continue to do for Patsy and other customers and helping folks like that in the community out. And I really appreciate that about you.

Ashley: Well, thanks, Eric.

Eric: So, tell me a little bit about, you know, is that a typical relationship? I mean, I’m sure you’re not buying groceries for every customer that comes in the door. You know, how does that come about? Is there something specific that happened or was it just, you know, you and Patsy becoming close?

Ashley: I think that you see this kind of thing every day throughout our organization. The bank really…we hire good people, you know what I mean? I think that my co-workers are extraordinary and I think little things like this happens throughout the organization, they’re just not as visible because maybe, you know, our customers’ houses don’t burn down every day, which is a good thing. But you know, I see these kinds of relationships popping up everywhere. I have several, you know, my most special relationships but you multiply that by, I don’t know, the 120 or so retail employees we have, that’s a lot of impact that we’re having. And it’s not, you know, to get attention or to look good, it’s just because that’s what we do. It’s what the bank encourages by allowing us to have time to build those relationships. And it’s what we want to do as individuals who work here. So, I think that’s kind of how it works.

Eric: I agree. I think that just in my experience being employed here, I feel like that same sense of community and togetherness and just helping people is kind of inherent in what we do and what we’re all about. And like you said, it’s not intended to be showy, we just happened to have a podcast now that we need, that we want to talk about all the great things that are happening in our community. And so, I think that, you know, it’s such a beautiful thing to be involved in an organization that wants to help the community in such a meaningful way. And your efforts are kind of symbolic of that and embody that character that we carry every day. So, again, I just wanna thank you for joining me today and sharing this story and your story with our audience.

Ashley: Well, thank you. I enjoyed the talk. Thanks, Eric.

Eric: Yeah. Yeah. Well, Ashley, one last thing, if any of our listeners have a question or want to learn more about First United, or they want to start building a close relationship with a community banker, what’s the best way they can get the support they need?

Ashley: So, our website is a great place to start, it’s mybank.com. And you can find all the information you need to reach out to a local banker in your area, or hey, even if you’re interested in the job to come join the team, you can find information there as well.

Eric: Awesome. Yeah. Great. Well, that brings us to the end of our show. You can always find more episodes by visiting mybank.com/podcast or find us on your favorite podcast app. And we’re on basically every podcast out there. So, we’d love it if you would subscribe and leave us a great review, leave us a five-star review, that helps other people find the information that we’re providing, and hopefully, stories like this get shared with more folks. If you have feedback, questions, or want to request a topic for us to discuss, you can send an email to podcast@mybank.com. Thanks again for listening. We’ll be back next week with more helpful content, but until then, we wish you the best in focusing on what matters most to you.

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Eric: Member FDIC, equal housing lender. This recording is for informational purposes only, any references in this recording to any person, organization, product, or service does not constitute or imply the endorsement, recommendation, or affiliation with First United Bank & Trust. First United is not responsible for your use of the information mentioned within this podcast. Please consult legal or tax professionals for counsel as needed.

Read the story: https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/local/firefighters-battle-blaze-at-rosewood-village-apartments-near-hcc/article_2a35a92b-eda6-5154-806b-7b29c9f377be.html