Joliet bank out front on its community service

Service activities are simply “part of our solid position as a community leader’

Bob Diedrich, left, and Jim Roolf poses outside Old National Bank on Chicago Street in Downtown Joliet on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

The downtown Joliet branch of Old National Bank posts its community dedication right on its building.

“Every year, we highlight a local not-for-profit on this huge sign that goes halfway up the length of the building,” said Robert Diedrich, market president of Old National Bank. “It’s visible as you drive past it.”

The current featured nonprofit is the Will County Center for Community Concerns, which provides “a diverse array of services to and advocacy on behalf of low-income individuals and families,” according to the organization’s website.

“We had to work with the city of Joliet to modify the sign ordinance in the community,” said Jim Roolf, senior vice president and corporate relations officer of Old National Bank. “We do this solely for the community’s benefit.”

If you’ve seen the name Old National Bank around Will County a lot lately, you’re not mistaken.

In 2022, Old National Bancorp merged with First Midwest Bancorp Inc., making First Midwest Bank a division of Old National Bank and both companies operating as Old National Bank. This now gives the bank a presence in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Old National Bank began in 1834 in what is now Evansville, Indiana. First Midwest Bank was founded in 1940 as Union National Bank and Trust Co. of Joliet and later changed its name to First Midwest Bank.

Both Roolf and Diedrich were part of First Midwest Bank. Roolf’s employment dates back to 1974, when first Midwest Bank was still Union National Bank and Trust Co. of Joliet. Diedrich spent more than 40 years in various roles at First Midwest Bank.

Old National Bank on Chicago Street in Downtown Joliet on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

The mission of Old National Bank

First Midwest employees served the community in various capacities over the years, and people recognized the bank’s name. Now, Old National Bank employees want the community to know the commitment is the same.

“We just try to assist them in their efforts to make sure their organizations are better known in the community and to help drive some support from the community,” Roolf said.

Through the years, Roolf, Diedrich and many of their employees have served the community in various ways, especially by giving back to United Way of Will County agencies. Bank employees continue to do so as Old National Bank, a name that is less familiar.

That’s why Old National Bank entered into a name recognition agreement with the Rialto Square Theatre until 2026, Diedrich said.

“When we became Old National, we wanted to get our name on a building that we thought would be meaningful,” Diedrich said. “Jim and I put our heads together and decided there is probably not a more meaningful, iconic building in Will County than the Rialto.”

In July, Old National Bank also sponsored the Blood Drive on Route 66, which was held at the Rialto. As a founder of the Red Cross Illinois River Valley chapter in Romeoville, Roolf already knew the importance of blood drives.

But Old National Bank decided to sponsor multiple, multi-state blood drives in July and August in response to the April 10 mass shooting in Louisville, Kentucky, at an Old National Bank location there. Bank employees volunteered for those events.

“We had part of the staff help to work with setting up and breaking down the various blood drive sites,” Roolf said.

In May, Old National Bank and the Silver Cross Foundation entered into a multiyear corporate philanthropy partnership.

Old National Bank presented its first installment of their Corporate Philanthropy Partnership donation at the Silver Cross Community Trustees Lunch on April 20. Pictured from left to right: Craig Lyons, chairman of the Silver Cross Foundation board; Mike Scudder, executive chairman, Old National Bank; Ruth Colby, president/CEO, Silver Cross Hospital; Bob Diedrich, market president, Old National Bank; Sarah Kinsella, community relations manager/vice president, Old National Bank; and Tracy Simons, executive director, Silver Cross Foundation.

Old National Bank’s $150,000 charitable donation will help fund the hospital’s expansion of the emergency department in Homer Glen and the Midwest Institute for Lung at Silver Cross, along with other programs and facilities, according to a news release from Silver Cross Hospital.

Also in May, Thane Dykstra, president and chief executive officer of Trinity Services, and Sherry Ladislas, director of development at Trinity Services, accepted a $5,000 check from Old National Bank during a ceremony at the bank’s Mokena location.

Old National Bank ran a contest in March to donate $500,000 to community nonprofits in Illinois, Iowa, Northwest Indiana and select areas of Southeast Wisconsin. Communities participated by voting online for their favorite nonprofit, and Trinity Services received the most votes for the Will County area.

In a news release from Trinity Services announcing the donation, Dykstra said the funds would help renovate its STRIDES Therapeutic Riding Center along with other programs.

Leading by example

Both Diedrich and Roolf also have a long history of giving back to the Joliet area.

Diedrich said he’s been on the Joliet Grade Schools Foundation for Educational Excellence for “probably at least 20 years” and currently serves as its president. The foundation provides grants to District 86 teachers and staff for various educational programs and projects.

He estimated that the foundation has given a half-million dollars since its inception in 2003.

“It’s very meaningful to the teachers since these are the things the district doesn’t have the funding for,” Diedrich said.

As part of that foundation, Diedrich also was instrumental in the Joliet Public Library’s new youth art gallery, which will feature only works by students in Joliet Public Schools District 86.

“He recommended we do this, and I don’t think anyone would argue with it,” Roolf has said, “because the arts are very important. … Giving the students the opportunity to participate in something like that could result in one of them becoming a significantly renowned artist in the future.”

Roolf also has been honored by the Will County Bar Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters and at the 2019 Childerguild Ball, which benefits Silver Cross Hospital’s obstetrics and pediatrics department. In May, the Illinois Bankers Association named Roolf its 2023 Banker of the Year for his community service and mentoring in the banking community.

Roolf’s community service has deep roots.

Roolf was just 14 when his mother died from cancer. He was one of seven children of a Pittsburgh sheet metal worker and won a football scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

He studied sociology and became a juvenile case worker with the Youth Services Division in South Bend, Indiana. But he became disappointed and frustrated when he couldn’t solve the root problems for his clients.

So a banker suggested that Roolf use his compassion in banking. Perhaps that’s why Roolf said Old National Bank’s community service activities are simply “part of our solid position as a community leader.”

“Bob and I have been involved in many different boards and organizations. We think it’s important that our community is successful in all fronts,” Roolf said. “But we’re also very focused on doing what we need to do in the future to make sure our customers are successful and that we have the services they need to be successful.”