In her retirement during the past year, Janice Siebenaler has done the usual: She left her job as Heritage Bank vice president branch manager and took a cruise to Alaska with David, her husband of 39 years. She has also cut back on her volunteerism in the community.
But her idea of “cut back” is unusual.
She currently volunteers on three boards with Advancing Leadership, the Federal Way Kiwanis and Soroptimist International of Federal Way. She also serves as co-leader of her two granddaughters’ Girl Scouts troop.
“I’m really humbled because I really cut back what I used to do in the community,” Siebenaler said when she found out she was named the Federal Way Mirror’s Citizen of the Month for December. “I’m still very active, but I feel very humbled.”
As someone who worked at banks for over 30 years, Siebenaler’s volunteerism in Federal Way has been oriented toward the logistics side of things.
“I’m one of those people who’s more behind the scenes — planning events, doing the procurement, doing the check-in, the check-out, counting the cash and just making sure it goes really well,” Siebenaler said. “If they have problems, they come to me. But I’ve always been the one who coordinates the stuff and gets everything ready to go.”
She got her start giving back to the Federal Way community at her two sons’ schools when they were growing up. After she had her second son, she started her own in-home daycare that she operated for seven years. She lived across the street from Star Lake Elementary and began volunteering in the classrooms and helping out with various events.
“The parents just loved that because I also got my daycare kids involved,” she said, recalling how she would bring her daycare children across the street and have them help out with things such as the school’s annual picnic.
She also served as PTA president, secretary and treasurer while her sons attended Star Lake.
After she later worked for Bank of America for 17 years, she decided she wanted to work for a bank that gives back to the community, as well as allows their employees to give back as well.
“Not just lip service, but actually make a difference,” she noted.
So she went to HomeStreet Bank where she was able to volunteer in the community. She later worked at Evergreen Bank, and then Heritage Bank, where she made even deeper connections with the Federal Way community. Over her years of service, Siebenaler was named Kiwanian of the year twice. The Kiwanis Club also awarded her with a Walter Zeller Award. For Soroptimist she was named Soroptimist of the Year three times, and Advancing Leadership awarded her their Servant Leadership Award.
“That one meant a lot to me because the community and Advancing Leadership alumni vote for that award,” she said.
Over the years, Siebenaler has served on eight different boards. And even when she steps down from a particular board, she still comes back to help out. While she is no longer serving on FUSION’s board, she still helps at their annual event with check-in and check-out. She also recently helped out with Federal Way Cares for Kids’ annual event that provides Christmas presents to 200 of Federal Way’s families in greatest need.
“Janice is one of those people you can always count on to go the extra mile in what she does and in how she does it; selfless service with respect for everyone she works with and without regard to who gets the credit,” said Federal Way Municipal Court Judge and fellow Kiwanian Dave Larson.
One of her favorite events to help out at is with Advancing Leadership’s Servant Leadership Day when the adult leadership class joins with youth in one class. The class breaks up into small groups and goes out in the community to volunteer for an organization.
“That was impactful for me,” she recalled of one of the years she participated when her group went to a local trailer park to help some residents in need. “We gave out little shoe boxes filled with different things [like] toiletries, socks and candy. These people were so grateful. They made cookies for us and just sat down and wanted to talk to us.”
Siebenaler encourages others to do what they can — even if you only volunteer a couple of hours here and there. She said there are so many organizations that could use any amount of time.
“If you can just help here and there, the smile that you’ll get from that person is just so rewarding.”
This is what has motivated her to be so involved in the Federal Way community over the years.
“I’ve always liked to encourage the heart of others and also to see a smile on their face and the look on their face … I’ve always wanted to give back and try to make a difference.”