For community banks and credit unions, service to community is one of the strongest marketing initiatives possible. Many institutions throughout New England are giving back to the community in big ways and we want to recognize and celebrate these efforts. We asked and you delivered; thank you for telling us about the amazing ways in which your credit unions and community banks are giving back to their communities!
Since launching its Financial Education Program in 2010, Cambridge Savings Bank has remained dedicated to contributing to the financial wellness of families and individuals who live in all the communities that it serves. During this decade, it has developed engaging, interactive workshops and lessons and presented live sessions to more than 29,000 participants. This number underscores the broad scope of the bank’s financial education efforts. Participants span students at the kindergarten and other elementary school grades, high school level, and adults of all ages including seniors.
As part of an ongoing effort to provide value to the community, Bankwell’s Pet Adoption Project creates awareness about the many pets in need of homes at animal shelters throughout Fairfield and New Haven counties. This is the fourth year for the program, which features photos and information about available dogs and cats on billboards, ads, social media, the bank’s website, and throughout all the branches. Since the Spring of 2017, more than 90% of the 96 featured animals have been adopted.
Imagine a child at school trying to write without a pencil, color without crayons, or create without the tools to put their creations on paper. This unfortunately, is the reality that many of our local children live in today. Moved by this, along with the fact that teachers, on average, spend $500-$1,000 out of their pocket each year to provide basic supplies to students, Union Savings created the Teachers’ Closet. Over 13,000 items have been distributed to three elementary schools since the program kicked off in October 2016.
In partnership with the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand, 98.5 The Sports Hub and MetroWest Youth Hockey, Avidia providde the necessary safety equipment and additional funding to support youth hockey. For every assist on goal this season that Brad Marchand and his Boston teammates made, Avidia Bank donated $25 in support of MetroWest Youth Hockey Programs. The money raised will help from 150 children in MetroWest Youth Hockey with Warrior helmets, mouthguards and $150 to a youth savings account to help pay for hockey.
The Windsor Federal High School Banking Program is now in its ninth year of bringing financial literacy to high school students and their families, as well as career readiness skills, in underserved and economically disadvantaged communities. Since the program’s inception in 2011, 83 students have completed the program with 22 hired by Windsor Federal for seasonal, part-time, or full-time positions and 85% have gone on to college. Some are the first to have “white collar” jobs and are helping to support their families with their income.
A vision for a revitalized, vibrant city was conceived by Todd Workman, a private citizen and FSB Corporator, who realized he would need to have a portfolio of buildings in downtown Franklin that could be used to initiate the transformation. Despite the challenges, FSB made the loan acknowledging it was an investment in the City it has called home for over 150 years. At the loan closing, FSB made a $30,000 donation to help cover the costs associated with the transaction to replenish working capital.
The Thomaston Savings Bank Foundation once again implemented its Act to Impact Employee Giving Campaign. This initiative was developed to allow employees to give back to the communities the bank serves by deciding how to distribute $30,000 in foundation grants, which had a focus on basic human needs and community. The employees were divided into 20 teams giving each team the opportunity to award a $1,500 onetime grant to 20 area non-profits. Grants were presented to groups working on homeless, education, and feeding the hungry among others.
The 5th Annual Milford Moves 5k raised over $20,000 to benefit local programs for the American Legion Post 196, the VFW Post 7788, the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 15 and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 25. This family-friendly event is a fundraiser honoring local veterans. Over 350 people registered for the run/walk ranging in ages from 12 to 80. The 2020 race had to be cancelled but the bank plans to sponsor it again in 2021.
As part of Litchfield Bank’s “Locally Owned, Locally Grown” campaign to help support local businesses and the communities in which it serves, the bank launched its Cash Mobs in 2018. A Cash Mob is a community event that people use to join together and support local businesses. The goal of Cash Mobs is to boost sales for small businesses and turn an average day into a fantastic day. Employees are given $20 to spend at a locally-owned business and then sent out on a designated day to support the merchant.
In 2020, Middlesex Savings Bank announced it would donate $520,000 to first responders in over 26 communities. Mike McAuliffe, president and CEO of Middlesex Savings Bank, stated, “Middlesex Savings Bank’s gift to our local first responders is given as a gesture of gratitude and recognition for all that they do to keep our communities safe. As a 185-year old community bank, supporting the organizations that care for our customers and neighbors is a vital part of our heritage.”
Still She Rises, a celebration of life of Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo, raised over $55,000 from a gala event attended by over 250 to benefit local domestic violence prevention organizations. The event coincided with the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The proceeds benefited HarborCOV, Portal to Hope, and the Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo Fund by Kiwanis. Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo was a beloved member of the community and 20-year employee of Metro Credit Union in Chelsea, Massachusetts, whose life was tragically cut short as a result of domestic violence in December 2018.
American Eagle Financial Credit Union employees collectively donated $5,816 to Hockanum Valley Community Council of Vernon for "Jeans Fridays." By making a weekly donation through payroll deduction, employees can wear jeans to work each Friday. The council was selected as the charity of choice for October-December 2019 by employees on the credit union's "Eagle Team." It provides services including meals, transportation, counseling, and education to individuals and families in a manner which will promote independence while ensuring that basic needs are met regardless of ability to pay.
Since 1996, Digital Federal Credit Union, known as DCU, has provided a scholarship program designed to assist students in pursuit of a higher education with over $900,000 in scholarships being awarded. In 2019, DCU for Kids, the credit union’s charitable foundation, distributed 90 scholarships totaling $165,000 to graduating high school seniors. Funds were distributed through DCU for Kids, the credit union’s charitable foundation. Recipients were chosen based on scholastic achievement, community involvement, leadership skills, character and integrity, recommendation letters, as well as an essay submitted by the student.
Navigant Credit Union joined Bryant University and Rosemary’s Wish Kids in April 2019 to unveil three custom-built playhouses as part of the organizations’ annual Project Playhouse initiative. Through Project Playhouse, a team of Bryant University students work with local vocational schools, corporate sponsors and nonprofit organizations to fund, design, construct and install state-of-the-art playhouses to be donated to local families in need. Navigant provided Project Playhouse with a two-year, $15,000 donation to give the initiative the financial security to continue its operations for years to come.
New England Federal Credit Union made a number of donations to community organizations to round out its 2019 community giving initiatives. Its largest was $20,000 to the Committee on Temporary Shelter. Founded in 1982, COTS provides emergency shelter for families and individuals; family and adult services; prevention and rehousing assistance; and transitional and permanent housing services. A $10,000 donation was also made to Community Health Centers of Burlington for its health care to people of all ages, backgrounds, and life circumstances, including primary and preventive health care.
SeaComm Federal Credit Union presented a check for $50,000 to support the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge program in Burlington, Vermont. For some cancer patients, the best treatment is far from home. For many patients living in the North Country, that treatment is in Burlington, and the Hope Lodge program makes it an affordable option by providing a free place for cancer patients and their caregiver to stay, in a supportive environment. Each year, the Hope Lodge in Burlington provides nearly 5,000 free nights of lodging.
Sikorsky Credit Union donated $5,000 to the Stratford, Connecticut chapter of Imagination Library, a book gifting program that provides free books to children from birth until they begin school. The Imagination Library was started in 1995 by singer Dolly Parton to provide free, high-quality books to young children. Since this program started, over 100 million books have been given to children around the world. The Imagination Library in Stratford will ensure that over 1,600 children under age five will receive one age appropriate book per month.
Polish National Credit Union in Chicopee, Massachusetts, made a $10,000 donation to the Chicopee Fire Department. The donation will be used to purchase an industrial-sized washer extractor. This innovative machine reduces the amount of carcinogens in turnout gear without damaging the equipment. Stephen Burkott, former Chicopee fire chief and Polish National Credit Union board chairman, noted that “this is a wonderful investment that will have long-term effects. Making sure our firefighters are safe is of utmost importance, and with the help of this machine, we’re one step closer.”
For every run scored by the Portland Sea Dogs in 2019, Atlantic donated $10 to the Maine Credit Union League Campaign to End Hunger. Additional funding raising events increased the total to more than $71,000. Donations were made to benefit local hunger organizations such as the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program, Tedford Housing, Freeport Community Services, the Town of Cumberland (Food Pantry), Saco Food Pantry, Sanford Food Pantry, York Community Services, Massabesic High School Nutritional Program and other food programs. The credit union was a supporter of over 100 local organizations and events by giving $165,915 of sponsorships.
In 2019, the Holy Rosary Credit Union’s 6th-Annual Christmas Caring Campaign donated over $20,000 to local non-profit organizations on behalf of its members. For the first time, the credit union, based in Rochester, New Hampshire, opened the process up to their membership, allowing members to nominate organizations that they felt deserved to be recognized and supported. This resulted in 10 organizations who were not part of the Christmas Caring Campaign in 2018 receiving donations this season. Of the 27 non-profits who received donations, most focused on homelessness, meal services, youth support and addiction recovery.
The Editorial Staff of Banking New England chose the winners based on the following criteria: objectives (20%), strategy (20%), execution (20%), and results (40%). Institutions were then scored on a 1 to 10 scale and awarded accordingly.