In response to increased incidents of anti-Asian violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of Arvest Bank associates launched last spring a project that has resulted in an exhibit currently on display at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith (UAFS).

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As part of its ongoing efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, Arvest has formed Associate Impact Groups. These groups are designed to provide all associates an avenue to collectively share perspectives, ideas and solutions on ways to enhance the associate and customer experience.

One of the groups consists of members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, along with their internal allies. Inspired by the legend popularized by Sodako Sasaki, a victim of atomic bombing during World War II, these associates issued a company-wide call to support their 1,000 Cranes initiative.

The initiative called for 1,000 folded-paper cranes. Collectively, these cranes were created as a sign of solidarity against acts of hate towards Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and all marginalized groups.

The result was a collection of more than 2,000 paper cranes, made by Arvest associates from across the bank’s four-state footprint, which now can be seen at UAFS.

“On behalf all the members of our Associate Impact Group, we want to thank all the associates who sent in their cranes to support this cause,” said Gabriel Saysombath, a marketing specialist for Arvest in Fort Smith. “It was very inspiring to see the cranes being delivered each week from all of our associates. I am excited about the partnership we have made with the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith to create an art exhibit highlighting the collective efforts of our teammates.”

Upon learning about the initiative, UAFS made the decision to transform the cranes into a public exhibit, which can be seen at the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center.