Aaron McCollum grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. He attended the University of WI – Rock County and later finished his degree at UW-Whitewater where he studied marketing and professional sales. During his time at UW-Rock County, he shared that he not only worked multiple jobs but was also elected student government president. While completing his degree at UW-Whitewater, Aaron shared he was involved in the American Marketing Association, an international collegiate organization for business students. In addition, he worked multiple jobs and interned at Marine Credit Union (MCU) where he now works as a senior business development officer and a senior consumer loan officer. “I’m very motivated and like setting and accomplishing goals,” he said nonchalantly during his Heart of MCU interview.
Where does he get all of his motivation? “My family faced financial adversity as a child,” he explained. Things such as having to use food share and free lunch impacted him. In addition, he said that he is always staying busy and finds it hard to just “chill.”
Aaron said he had multiple jobs through college, including working part-time at Woodman’s grocery store, which he still does on the weekends. “It’s good money,” he explained. “I’m also very active in my faith and in my church,” he said with a laugh and added, “very active.”
Aaron explained that he was approached and asked to lead a ministry in the church. It’s called “Local World Impact.” The ministry focuses on giving back and filling needs in the local community. “To give back and share the love of God,” he explained.
“Our church is highly active in global missions,” he continued. “We wanted to focus more on local missions, so our pastor asked us to lead the group that they envisioned. We were given a list of partners in the community who supported their ideas and gathered volunteers to get out and serve.” He shared that they started with 33 volunteers in April and now have over 100 people out doing acts of kindness to share God’s love.
“Partnered with ‘Souls for Jesus,’ who takes shoes to villages throughout Africa, we collected 3,500 pairs of shoes in May. It got people excited,” he explained and smiled. Among other causes the ministry has also worked with the community to serve women facing adversity.
When asked if there was a pivotal moment in his life that led Aaron to serve his community, he said it was when he lost his grandparents. “I lost my grandfather, my dad’s father, when I was in high school. We were super close. In 2018, I lost my other grandfather (his mother’s father). It was a few weeks before Thanksgiving. “He was an Evangelist, and he wasn’t afraid to share his love of Jesus,” Aaron shared.
“That was tough,” he continued. “He had cancer and several heart surgeries. He was struggling.” Aaron shared that while visiting his grandfather he played the guitar for him. “His eyes closed, and he reached out and grabbed my arm while I was playing,” Aaron shared. “He passed a few days later.”
Through tearful eyes, Aaron continued to share his story of losing his maternal grandmother only a few months after his grandfather passed. “We did the holiday. I didn’t do a gift, but I wanted to do something with her to have a nice memory.” So, he made a “date” with his grandmother. But before it could happen, Aaron’s mother called him when he was at church and told him that his grandmother was in the hospital after having a brain aneurism. “They found her about to pull into the church,” he said. “She passed that evening.”
“One of my biggest regrets,” Aaron shared, “was that I didn’t play music at grandpa’s funeral. So I played ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ at my grandma’s funeral. My grandparents used to think I was the best.”
Aaron explained that losing his grandparents taught him to be “more purpose driven. It’s that idea that tomorrow is not promised.” He now asks himself, “What am I doing today to lead someone else to God … to heaven.”
What is that purpose for Aaron? “Simply, to make others feel valued. Not just by myself, but that God values them and wants that relationship with them,” he shared. “To help others feel seen and heard.”
“Mom always talked about serving others,” he continued. “We walked dogs at the humane society and helped serve meals as a kid.”
“Even at Rock County,” Aaron went on, “I didn’t want to do student government,” but he said that someone nominated him, and he won. So, he asked himself, “What am I going to do with this?” He came up with a collaborative effort to do an open-mic fundraiser for the local humane society. “If I have a leadership position,” he explained, “of any capacity, it was not by mistake or coincidence. God gave us that to bless other people.”
At work, Aaron explained his passion has been working with members. Outside of work and his missionary work, Aaron also coaches youth football and teaches Sunday school to middle school kids. In their spare time, Aaron and his wife Patricia also travel and tend to stay very active. “We definitely stay busy,” he added with a smile.
Aaron and Patricia live in the Milwaukee area with their rescue coon hound, Ivy, and their beagle Franklin. “He’s tiny,” Aaron explained, “but he has the loudest beagle howl you’ll ever hear.”
As a postscript … Aaron later shared that he and his wife, in addition to all they already do to serve the greater good, are also in the process of becoming foster parents.