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FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently presented its 2022 Community Support Award to Linda Bushey, a mortgage specialist in the main office in Florence.

The Community Support Award was established by the bank in 1997 as a means of formally recognizing employees who are active in the community and give their personal and professional time to local nonprofit organizations.

Each year, the award recipient can select an organization of his or her choice, and the bank will donate $500 to that organization. Bushey chose to support two organizations, so $250 will be granted to the Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden Agricultural Society and Three County Fair, which promote agricultural education and scientific agriculture, and $250 will be granted to the Greater Northampton St. Patrick’s Committee Inc.

Bushey was hired at Florence Bank in 1994 as a teller and held a variety of positions before becoming a senior mortgage processor. She is now a mortgage specialist with 32 years of banking experience. She received the Florence Bank President’s Award for outstanding service in 2001 and is a 2017 recipient of the inaugural Leonard Von Flatern Jr. Volunteer Award presented by the Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden Agricultural Society.

Bushey serves on the Three County Fair board of directors and is a longtime fair volunteer. She is treasurer of the Greater Northampton St. Patrick’s Committee and also volunteers in many events for the committee. She also volunteers at the Hampshire County Sherriff’s picnic and has volunteered during the Northampton Family Fourth event at Look Memorial Park.

“We are pleased to make donations to these important community organizations in Linda’s name because we value community service as much as Linda clearly does,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “Linda well-deserves the Community Support Award.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently presented its 2022 President’s Award to three staff members for outstanding service.

Established in 1995, the President’s Award recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank. Honorees are nominated by their colleagues at the bank.

This year’s award winners are Tiffany Poirier, commercial loan-support assistant manager in the Commercial Department; Shaina Snape, a customer-service specialist in the Customer Service Center; and Nicholas Andrus, a customer-service representative. All three employees work in the bank’s main branch in Florence.

Poirier was hired at the bank in March 2017. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Westfield State University and has 15 years of banking experience. Snape began working at Florence Bank in 2018 and has 12 years of banking experience. Andrus was also hired in 2018 and has eight years of experience in banking.

“These employees embody the qualities we value at Florence Bank — hard work, determination, patience, enthusiasm, and compassion among them,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “They have built enduring relationships with colleagues and customers alike, giving their peers good reasons to nominate them.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank hired Kyle Toelken to serve as assistant vice president and branch manager of the Belchertown branch.

Toelken was hired in May and has 12 years of banking experience. Committed to community involvement, he has volunteered with Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, helping present lesson plans to school-aged children. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Franklin Pierce University.

“I am very excited to join Florence Bank and the Belchertown branch team,” Toelken said. “I look forward to working with the community and ensuring customers have a great experience.”

President Kevin Day added that “we are excited to welcome Kyle to the Florence Bank team. He has a great deal of experience, and we are pleased that he will be helping to lead our Belchertown branch.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced recently that longtime employee Jean Monska has been promoted to lead the Easthampton branch as branch manager. She replaces Anita Sedlak, who retired on July 1.

Monska has worked for Florence Bank since 2002. Before the promotion to branch manager, she served as assistant branch manager in the Hadley location for 14 years. In March 2020, she was promoted to senior assistant branch manager before transferring to the Easthampton branch in the same role.

She holds an associate degree in business administration from Holyoke Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern New Hampshire University. She is also a graduate of the New England School of Financial Studies.

In 2005, Monska was named to the Florence Bank President’s Club. The honor recognizes superior performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank.

“We are thrilled that Jean will be taking over the reins of our Easthampton branch,” President and CEO Kevin Day said. “Jean has built great relationships with customers and community members in Easthampton, and we know she has the skill and experience to lead.”

Sedlak became assistant vice president and assistant branch manager in 1999. She was promoted to vice president branch manager in 2021 and is retiring after 22 years of service.

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FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that president and CEO Kevin Day will retire on Nov. 25, and a focused search is underway for a new leader.

Day took over as president in January 2020 and became CEO in May of the same year.

When Day took the helm at age 64, he promised that nothing would change at the bank. Little did he know, he’d be called upon to usher Florence Bank through some of the most tumultuous times in history, including a pandemic and the resulting financial strife. Day led the bank in ensuring that countless homeowners and businesses were able to defer their payments during the pandemic and in helping business customers connect to grants and other available funding.

These measures helped customers navigate the financial turmoil and gave them much-needed time to adjust to new financial situations.

The bank also expanded over these past two years, opening a branch in Chicopee; creating a work-from-home program for employees; and granting hundreds of thousands of dollars to nonprofit organizations in the Valley.

Day takes pride in the bank’s stability but shares the credit with the full banking team.

“Our goal in this transition is to identify an individual to lead the bank into the future while preserving the values and mission of the past that have proven so successful here,” he said. “I am proud to say that Florence Bank is fundamentally sound in every way. We have an experienced executive management team, a solid officer team and a dedicated staff. I am confident that the bank will continue to prosper for many years to come.”

Day joined Florence Bank in 2008 as chief financial officer, responsible for finance, facilities and risk management. His responsibilities expanded to include compliance in 2013, residential lending in 2014 and retail banking in 2016. He was also promoted to executive vice president in 2016.

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FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that it recently donated $50,000 to the Easthampton Community Center through its Florence Savings Easthampton Branch Charitable Foundation, Inc.

“We are honored to receive such a large donation,” said Robin Bialecki, executive director of the Easthampton Community Center, who was recently named the 2022 Person of the Year by United Way of the Hampshire & Franklin Region. “This is a testament to how much the people at Florence Bank and the Easthampton Branch Charitable Foundation value our work, and it will allow us to touch many lives in the community.”

The Florence Savings Easthampton Branch Charitable Foundation was formed in 1999, following the merger of the former Easthampton Cooperative Bank into Florence Bank, the first and only acquisition for Florence Bank.
That investment brought Florence Bank into Easthampton for the first time. Before the merger, Easthampton Cooperative Bank operated the branch near the city rotary, which Florence Bank assumed and continues to run today.

“This foundation helps reinforce the longstanding giving philosophy of Florence Bank,” said President and CEO Kevin Day. “There is a synergy there. The foundation allows the bank to serve its overall mission as a supporter and sustainer in the communities we serve.”

The check for $50,000 was presented by three original members of the foundation: Nancy J. LaBombard, Virginia L. Smith and Anita Sedlak.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Florence Bank has donated $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of West Springfield to help bolster the nonprofit’s 2022 Change a Child’s Future campaign.

The club serves members ranging in age from 2.9 months to 18 years. This year’s $50,000 campaign goal will raise funds for financial aid to families in need and allow the club to enhance programming for before- and after-school programs, expand the Little Futures Preschool, purchase art and S.T.E.M. materials, and offer a variety of sports clinics. To learn more visit www.wsbgclub.org

“Florence Bank is committed to ensuring our local youth have the opportunity to become productive, caring, responsible citizens,” said Michael Moriarty, Florence Bank senior vice president, commercial team leader and chairman of the Boys & Girls Club. “The funds we provide to the West Springfield Boys & Girls Club help support a variety of programs as well as families in need of financial assistance.”

Sarah G. Calabrese, the club’s resource development director, said, “Florence Bank’s support of our mission will help to enable all youth to reach their full potential. We are proud to call Florence Bank a partner in supporting us so that we can ensure all children and teens have the opportunity for a great future.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank celebrated its 20th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program gala last month, awarding $100,000 to 45 nonprofits across the valley. And at the close of the event, President and CEO Kevin Day drew cheers from the audience of nonprofit leaders, announcing that giving will increase to $125,000. 

“Some of you longtime recipients may recall when we began this great program back in 2002, we started by giving away $50,000,” Day said. “Years later we increased to $75,000 and then to $100,000. We’ve decided to increase the total grant amount again — to $125,000 — immediately, for grants to be awarded at next year’s gala. 

“My hope is that our customers continue to use this program to provide you with a vote of confidence, as well as some much-needed funding to help you continue your mission to serve the community,” he added. “All of us at Florence Bank truly appreciate everything you do to make our communities better places to live and work.” 

Day’s announcement was the second commemoration of the evening, the first coming as he called for bank and nonprofit staff and leaders to raise a glass to toast the event’s 20th year. “We can’t let that go without celebration,” he said.  

Florence Bank’s community grants program is an annual offering founded in 2002, and, through it, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit in hopes it will receive a share of grant funding. 

Voting takes place all year long, online at www.florencebank.com/vote and in bank branches, and each customer has only one vote. To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2021, roughly 7,000 votes were cast, making 45 nonprofits eligible for a grant. 

Over the past 20 years, Florence Bank has tallied more than 141,000 customer votes and given grants to roughly 164 different organizations. 

 

At its 20th annual event, held May 19 at Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, the bank offered awards to 45 nonprofits and celebrated a total of $1.4 million in community giving through this one channel. 

Six nonprofits received funding for the first time — some in Hampden County, where Florence Bank now has three branches and has established a presence as a good neighbor. Three recipients have accepted an award every year since the program launched.  

Four organizations received the maximum amount of $5,000 this year: Cancer Connection Inc., Dakin Humane Society, Food Bank of Western Mass., and Friends of Williamsburg Libraries. 

“The commitment of Florence Bank customers to all of you serving the needs within our community is awesome, and we couldn’t be prouder to be able to support the programs our customers believe in,” Day said.  

Organizations receiving awards range from police, fire, library, and school groups to nonprofits that provide food, shelter or support to people living with a serious illness or disability. 

In addition to the four top vote-getters, these other organizations received an award:  

Friends of Lilly Library, $4,097; Northampton Survival Center, $3,782; Amherst Survival Center, $3,588; Our Lady of the Hills Parish, $3,564; Friends of Forbes Library, $3,539; Goshen Firefighters Association, $3,370; Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, $3,224; Easthampton Community Center, $2,909; It Takes a Village, $2,909; Williamsburg Firefighters Association, $2,642; Northampton Neighbors, $2,400; Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, $2,303; Belchertown Animal Relief Committee, Inc. (BARC), $2,230; Manna Community Kitchen, $2,109; Shriners Hospitals for Children, $1,988; and J.F.K. Middle School PTO. 

Also, $1,867; Kestrel Land Trust, $1,867; Northampton High School PTO, $1,794; Riverside Industries, Inc., $1,770; R.K. Finn Ryan Road School PTO, $1,648; Cooley Dickinson Hospital, $1,624; Safe Passage, $1,624; Northampton Community Music Center, $1,527; Therapeutic Equestrian Center, $1,527; Amherst Neighbors, $1,503; Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, $1,455; Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, $1,430; Grow Food Northampton, $1,430; Smith Vocational High School PTO, $1,333; Whole Children, $1,309; Easthampton Elementary Schools PTO, $1,164; Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity, $1,139; Hitchcock Center for the Environment, $1,115; Revitalize CDC, $1,091; The Parish Cupboard, $1,067; Belchertown Police K-9 Unit, $1,042; Cooley Dickinson Hospital VNA & Hospice, $1,042; Historic Northampton, $1,018; Granby Senior Center, $994; Leeds Elementary School PTO, $994; and Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, $970. 

Daily News

 

FLORENCE — For 20 years, Florence Bank has awarded grants of up to $5,000 each to dozens of nonprofits chosen by its customers, and at its annual gathering this year, it will once again offer up $100,000 to organizations that support young and old in the community. 

At its 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants gala, to be staged May 19 at 5 p.m. at Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, the bank will offer awards to 45 nonprofits and celebrate a total of $1.4 million in community giving through this one channel. 

Organizations like Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield and the Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Holyoke will receive awards for the first time this year thanks to customer voting. 

“We are so grateful,” said Stacey Perlmutter, director of development at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield. “All care and services at Shriners Hospitals for Children are provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay. This grant money will help us to continue to provide life-changing pediatric specialty care to families throughout Western Massachusetts and beyond.” 

Likewise, Gerry O’Connor Page, executive director of Therapeutic Equestrian Center (TEC) in Holyoke feels grateful for an assist that will help provide therapeutic horseback riding to individuals with physical, emotional or psychological disabilities. 

“We will use the money to enable us to keep prices down,” she said. “It helps make the service accessible.” 

In the past, the bank has granted funds to some Hampden County-based nonprofits, such as Dakin Humane Society, which typically is the top vote-getter each year. This year, as Florence Bank develops its engagement in the southern county, the awards to organizations based there are increasing. 

“We have branches now in West Springfield, Springfield and Chicopee, and we very much want to be good neighbors in those communities,” said Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day. He noted that this year, the bank held a Zoominar event to educate Hampden County nonprofit leaders about the Customers’ Choice program. 

“We wanted to be sure they were aware of the program so they could take part and have the best chance at success,” he said. 

Florence Bank’s community grants program is an annual offering founded in 2002, and, through it, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit in hopes it will receive a share of grant funding. 

Voting takes place all year long, online at www.florencebank.com/vote and in bank branches, and each customer has only one vote. To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2021, roughly 6,700 votes were cast, making 45 nonprofits eligible for a grant. 

Over the past 20 years, Florence Bank has tallied more than 141,000 customer votes and given grants to roughly 164 different organizations. 

Organizations to receive awards this year range from police, fire, library and school groups to nonprofits that provide food, shelter or support to people living with a serious illness or disability. Leaders of these nonprofits will learn the amount of their award at the May event. 

In addition to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield, the Therapeutic Equestrian Center and Dakin, the following organizations received enough votes to qualify for a grant and will receive an award at the celebration: Amherst Neighbors, Amherst Survival Center, Belchertown Animal Relief Committee Inc. (BARC), Belchertown K-9, Cancer Connection, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Cooley Dickinson Hospital VNA & Hospice, Easthampton Community Center, Easthampton Elementary Schools PTO, Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Friends of Forbes Library, Friends of Lilly Library, Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, Friends of the Williamsburg Library, Goshen Firefighters Assoc., Grow Food Northampton, Granby Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity Pioneer Valley, Historic Northampton, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, It Takes a Village, J.F.K. Middle School, Kestrel Land Trust, Leeds Elementary School PTO, Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, Manna Community Kitchen, Northampton Community Music Center, Northampton High School PTO, Northampton Neighbors, Northampton Survival Center, Our Lady of the Hills Parish, Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Revitalize CDC, Riverside Industries, R.K. Finn Ryan Road School, Safe Passage, Smith Vocational High School PTO, The Parish Cupboard, Whole Children, and Williamsburg Firefighters Association. 

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank donated $100,000 to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to support its multi-phase, multi-year renovation, and as programming ramps up for families visiting during April vacation week, new and ongoing 50% admission discounts will be one benefit for bank customers.

The savings for those who use their Florence Bank debit card for admittance to the museum is a recent enhancement and will be an ongoing benefit of the long-term partnership the bank has with the Hall of Fame. The discount will be in effect during school-vacation week, April 18-22.

The collaboration between the bank and museum began roughly a decade ago with a Florence Bank ATM at the Hall of Fame. It has since grown to support programming of all kinds, including a Dribble Parade held by the bank several years ago to celebrate its first branch in Hampden County. Customers and community members dribbled basketballs through the streets of West Springfield in an event that also included Hall of Famer Teresa Edwards.

“We want to do our best to make sure we are taking care of the community. That’s one of the goals that we’ve had in working with Florence Bank, and we’re trying to amplify it,” said John Doleva, president and CEO of the Hall of Fame. “Florence Bank’s partnership with the Hall of Fame has played a crucial role in getting us where we are today.”

Michael Pietrzak, the Hall of Fame’s director of Partnerships, said the museum renovations began four years ago, and the bank’s gift of $100,000 came in phases over the past five years, with the final $20,000 gift made recently.

“The unique thing about the Basketball Hall of Fame is that it’s a global brand, recognized all across the world, with visitors from China and Australia. Yet, we have strong partners here in the community,” Pietrzak said. “Our relationship with Florence Bank is on top of the list.”

The bank helps make the museum and participation in its events, such as Enshrinement Weekend, more accessible to area residents, and Florence Bank partners with the Hall of Fame on events, such as a high-school tournament called the Hoop Hall Classic.

“Florence Bank was founded on the principle of neighbors helping neighbors,” President and CEO Kevin Day said. “The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is one of our neighbors and an economic driver in our community. If you haven’t visited since it reopened, I encourage you to stop by — and use your Florence Bank debit card to enjoy the discounted admission.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank is announced that Alissa Fuller joined the bank as assistant vice president, Compliance and CRA manager. She has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking, consumer lending, and compliance.

Prior to joining Florence Bank, she was a compliance specialist at a local community bank. Her duties included ensuring that the organization’s operations complied with relevant laws, regulations, and policies.

In her new role at Florence Bank, Fuller’s primary responsibilities will include the oversight of programs to ensure compliance with all federal and state laws that govern the bank’s operations. In addition, she will play a vital role in the encouragement and development of the bank’s Community Reinvestment efforts.

“I am excited to join the Florence Bank team,” she said. “It is known for its strong culture of caring for employees and the community. The opportunity to join and contribute to such a dynamic team is an honor.”

Fuller graduated from the New England College of Business and Finance in 2016 with an associate degree in business administration with a concentration in management.

“Alissa is an incredibly valuable addition to the Florence Bank team,” President and CEO Kevin Day said. “Her expertise in compliance and community reinvestment will serve as an excellent resource for us in those critically important areas.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank hired a Greenfield native with 25 years of strategic marketing experience with a focus in the banking sector to serve as vice president and director of Marketing Operations.

Jim Hickey stepped into the new role in mid-November after keeping his eye on Florence Bank for many years because he respects its creative marketing strategy, customer-focused approach to banking, and community engagement.

“I value what the bank stands for,” Hickey said. “Customer service drives everything we do here. That’s refreshing. Also, the level of community support the bank provides is impressive. It steps up and pitches in. I like associating myself with organizations that put people and the community first.”

He added that “Florence Bank is dedicated to the community. It creates relationships based on trust and not those based on meeting certain goals and selling certain products.”

Previously, Hickey was vice president of Account Service at Communicators Group, a marketing communications firm in Keene, N.H. He has also served as vice president and director of Marketing for Westbank, a financial institution formerly based in West Springfield.

He said his experience in financial-services marketing and communications will inform his work for Florence Bank. “I have managed the marketing and communications efforts for a number of clients in the banking industry. Those experiences have helped prepare me for this role.”

Hickey holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UMass Amherst. He has experience in areas that include account management, creative development, media-plan execution, and media buying.

He said Florence Bank has a well-established brand, and the challenge for him and the Marketing team moving forward will be paying homage to that brand and evolving it. “Our goal is to keep the brand fresh and take it to the next level.”

Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank, noted that “Jim is a creative, analytical thinker with a collaborative approach and a proven track record of managing projects from conception to implementation. We are excited to have him on the team.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Twenty-six Hampden County nonprofit leaders attended Florence Bank’s first Zoominar event in mid-October to learn about participation in the bank’s Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program.

The organizations have since launched individual efforts to raise awareness about their missions in hopes of helping them gain votes — and funds — at the bank’s 20th annual Customers’ Choice celebration in May 2022.

“So generous,” said Laurie Flynn, president and CEO of Link to Libraries. “Thank you so much. Florence Bank is such a wonderful community partner.”

Nonprofit leaders who missed the Zoominar and would like a link to the video can contact Erin Defoyd, Marketing Communications manager/officer, at [email protected].

Florence Bank held the informational event as it now has three branches in Hampden County — in West Springfield, Springfield, and Chicopee — and bank leaders want all nonprofits to be aware of the grant program so they can take advantage of the opportunity.

“Part of our mission is philanthropic in nature,” President and CEO Kevin Day told attendees on the Zoominar. “We provide support to the communities we serve in many different ways. Twenty years ago, the bank began asking our customers where some of the bank’s donations dollars should be spent, and our Customers’ Choice program was launched. Listening to customers was a natural extension of how we run our bank.”

Zoominar attendees also heard Defoyd give an overview of the materials in the bank’s Customers’ Choice PR kit and talk specifically about using social media to promote the program. Janice Beetle of Beetle Press, who partners with the bank’s marketing team, talked about how to customize the press-release template.

Monica Curhan, senior vice president and Marketing director, served as moderator and also introduced the managers of the three Hampden County branches: Emily Tower, West Springfield; Nikki Gleason, Springfield; and Kimberly Downing, Chicopee.

To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes from Florence Bank customers. In the past 20 years, Florence Bank has donated $1.3 million to 158 nonprofit organizations. In 2020, almost 7,000 votes were cast, and 32 nonprofits accepted grant awards in May, with a total of $100,500 handed out.

These nonprofits attended the Zoominar: Homework House, Litwin School PTO, Square One, Link to Libraries Inc., Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield, Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, Chicopee Fire Department, Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Greater Holyoke YMCA, Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, Kiwanis Club of Springfield, Randall Boys & Girls Club, Revitalize CDC, Rick’s Place, Ronald McDonald House of Springfield, the Gray House Inc., the Parish Cupboard, Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Transitions Through Motion, Valley Opportunity Council, and YMCA of Greater Springfield.

These organizations are listed on the voting page and in a promotional piece being handed to customers in the Hampden County branches through Dec. 31, when voting closes.

The bank’s kit for nonprofits includes an information sheet on the Customers’ Choice program, a sample flyer to display, and a press release leaders can adapt and send to the media. To access the Community Grants Kit, visit www.florencebank.com/customer-choice-kit.

Customers of Florence Bank can vote for a nonprofit by visiting www.florencebank.com/customers-choice-community-grants or voting in a Florence Bank branch.

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank has promoted Lachlan Harris to the position of information security administration officer.

Harris joined Florence Bank in 2016. Prior to his recent promotion, he had served as the information and cybersecurity administrator. In his new role, he will be responsible for security protocols throughout the bank’s information infrastructure. He is a certified information systems security professional and also a member of the Global Information Assurance Certification Advisory Board.

“We are very pleased to announce Lachlan’s promotion,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “Lachlan has proven that he is a visionary within the information-security space, and we are delighted to continue to watch him progress even further in the years to come.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank promoted Alicia Valentine to the position of assistant vice president and cash-management relationship officer.

She brings 15 years of banking knowledge to her new position. In this role, she will provide support to the bank’s commercial customer base by utilizing her in-depth knowledge of cash-management products and services while proactively developing existing relationships and new business opportunities.

During her tenure at the bank, Valentine has been the recipient of the President’s Award, which is given to employees who demonstrate superior levels of performance, customer service, and overall contribution to the bank.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Assumption College. She is also an active member of her community, serving as a board member for Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts.

“We are thrilled to announce Alicia’s well-deserved promotion,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “She is a dedicated and valued employee who consistently delivers great results. She is an asset to the bank, and I look forward to watching her progress even further in the years to come.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank promoted Jennifer Halpin to the position of assistant vice president, Human Resources and affirmative action manager at the main office in Florence.

Halpin is a seven-year employee of Florence Bank who brings extensive knowledge and skills to her new position, in which she will lead and direct the routine functions of the Human Resources department, including hiring and interviewing, payroll administration, benefits, and overseeing and implementing the bank’s equal-employment opportunity and affirmative-action policies and plans.

During her tenure at the bank, she has been the recipient of the President’s Award, which is given to employees who demonstrate superior levels of performance, customer service, and overall contribution to the bank.

Halpin holds an associate degree in business administration from Berkshire Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UMass Amherst.

“We are thrilled to announce Jen’s well-deserved promotion,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “She is a dedicated and valued employee who consistently delivers great results. She has been an asset to the bank for many years, and I look forward to watching her progress even further in the years to come.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank appointed Jenna Rahilly to serve as vice president and Human Resources Operations director. She is a 23-year veteran in the banking industry with 28 years of professional human-resources experience.

Rahilly most recently served as vice president of Human Resources for a local credit union. Her duties included the overall management of the credit union’s human-resources function, which encompassed the development and implementation of policies related to employee relations, organizational development, recruitment, compensation and benefits, training, and human-resources compliance.

“Being deeply rooted within the community in which Florence Bank serves, I have always had an appreciation of the organization and its people,” Rahilly said. “I have always had a deep level of admiration for Florence Bank’s commitment to the community, and I am excited to now be a part of it.”

Rahilly studied at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

“We are thrilled to have Jenna join our Florence Bank family,” President and CEO Kevin Day said. “Jenna’s vast knowledge of the communities we serve, coupled with her professional skills and expertise, will be invaluable to the bank. I know we will see excellent contributions from her in the years to come.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank will host a Zoominar on Monday, Oct. 18 from 3 to 4 p.m. for nonprofits in Hampden County to introduce them to the bank’s Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program in hopes of helping them gain votes — and funds.

With branches located in West Springfield, Springfield, and Chicopee, bank leaders want organizations in Hampden County to be better acquainted with the innovative grant program so the bank can collaborate more fully in all the communities it serves.

“We want to help organizations get the most out of our program,” bank President and CEO Kevin Day said. “We are excited, too, about celebrating our 20th anniversary in 2022 and want to spread the word about how to help people in our midst.”

Leaders of nonprofits are invited to register for the event by Oct. 12 by e-mailing Erin Defoyd, Marketing Communications manager/officer, at [email protected]. Only those who have registered will receive the Zoom link to attend the webinar.

In 2020, almost 7,000 votes were cast through Customers’ Choice, and 32 nonprofits accepted a grant award in May; a total of $100,500 was handed out. Over 20 years, the bank has awarded $1.3 million to area nonprofits.

To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes from Florence Bank customers. The bank has a kit at www.florencebank.com/customer-choice-kit that nonprofits can use to strategize how to gain votes. The kit contains an information sheet on Customers’ Choice, a sample flyer to display, and a press release leaders can adapt and send to the media.

“We want to offer another layer of support to our neighbors in Hampden County, who may be unaware of the program, hence the idea to host the Zoominar,” said Monica Curhan, senior vice president and Marketing director at the bank. “We have some great tips for getting enough votes to qualify for a share of the $100,000 grant money, and we want to share them with organization leaders.”

Hampden County nonprofits who attend the Zoominar will be listed in a promotional piece to be handed to customers in the Hampden County branches from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, thereby increasing awareness of their organization and earning them more potential votes from Florence Bank customers.

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank promoted Andrew Tulis to the position of assistant vice president and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) officer at the main office in Florence.

Tulis is a 10-year employee of Florence Bank and brings extensive knowledge and skills to his new position. In this role, he will be responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations by developing and adhering to policies and procedures that oversee the bank’s BSA program, anti-money-laundering program, and Office of Foreign Asset Control compliance.

Tulis studied at New York University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He attended the New England School for Financial Studies at Babson College, graduating with honors in 2016.

“We are excited to see Andrew’s career advance with the bank as he begins the role of assistant vice president/BSA officer,” Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day said. “His consistent outstanding performance, reliability, and expert knowledge have made him an essential asset to the bank.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently announced the appointment of Erin Defoyd to the position of Marketing Communications officer. Defoyd comes to the bank with more than 20 years of banking experience and deep connections in the communities the bank serves.

She most recently served as Marketing officer at a local community bank. Her duties included implementation of marketing strategies to increase brand awareness, creation of communications materials, support of media planning, website management, and social-media administration.

“I have always been drawn to the Florence Bank brand and admired the commitment the bank has to its employees, customers, and the community,” Defoyd said. “I am excited to be a part of the team and look forward to fostering and building upon the deep relationships that the bank has established within the local communities.”

Defoyd graduated from the New England School for Financial Studies in 2018 and is currently pursuing a degree in marketing at Southern New Hampshire University.

“We are thrilled to announce the addition of Erin Defoyd to our Florence Bank family,” President and CEO Kevin Day said. “Her extensive background within the community-banking space as well as her knowledge of the communities we serve aligns with the ongoing commitment to our customers.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Food insecurity skyrocketed in the past year in the Valley as the pandemic caused layoffs, slowdowns, and business closures, and the results of Florence Bank’s 19th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program reflect an awareness of the crisis.

Last year, only 10% of Florence Bank customers cast votes for organizations that ease food insecurity. This year, twice as many votes were cast for the cause, perhaps because the bank itself committed to supporting organizations that focus on food insecurity at the start of the pandemic. Since March 2020, Florence Bank has donated $140,000 to help feed people who are hungry.

During its Customers’ Choice celebration on May 18 at Look Memorial Park, $21,528 of the $100,500 in grants that Florence Bank awarded to area nonprofits went to five organizations focused on feeding people. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Inc. and the Amherst and Northampton Survival Centers each received $5,000, Manna Community Kitchen in Northampton received $3,933, and Easthampton Community Center received $2,595.

“Certainly, we’ve seen the need for food assistance grow rapidly — the fastest it’s ever grown in less than a year,” said Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank. “We need to be able to provide more healthy food to people who need it. We need more community support to be able to respond to that growing demand for food assistance.”

Lee Anderson, a board member for Manna Community Kitchen, said his organization has tripled in terms of the number of area residents for whom it is providing restaurant-quality meals. Manna is now providing 5,000 takeout meals each month at the Elm Street, Northampton location, and it launched deliveries, serving roughly 30 households at present.

“Our food costs have doubled, at least,” Anderson said. “The generosity from Florence Bank will go right to paying food bills.”

The community grants program is an annual offering founded in 2002; through it, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit in hopes it will receive a share of grant funding.

To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2020, almost 7,000 votes were cast, and 32 nonprofit leaders accepted their grants Tuesday, when a total of $100,500 was awarded. That total included two ‘almost’ awards of $500 each to the Williamsburg Firefighters Assoc. and Whole Children of Hadley, which each came close to receiving 50 votes.

In addition to organizations supporting food insecurity, 25 other nonprofits with more than 50 votes accepted a check, putting Florence Bank over the $1.3 million mark in grants it has presented to community organizations over nearly two decades through the customers’ choice program alone.

“The commitment of Florence Bank customers to all of you serving the needs within our community is awesome, and we couldn’t be prouder to be able to support the programs our customers believe in,” Day said.

The following organizations received more than 50 customer votes and received an award at the event: Dakin Humane Society, Cancer Connection, Friends of Forbes Library, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, $5,000 each; Our Lady of the Hills Parish, $4,837; Belchertown Animal Relief Committee Inc., $4,326; Friends of the Williamsburg Library, $3,815; J.F.K. Middle School, $3,303; Riverside Industries Inc. and Friends of Lilly Library, $3,146 each; It Takes a Village and Goshen Firefighters Assoc., $3,107 each; Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, $2,989; Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, $2,556; Northampton Neighbors, $2,399; Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Granby Senior Center, and Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, $2,281 each; Northampton Community Music Center and Community Action, $2,202 each; Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, $2,084; Safe Passage, $2,005; R.K. Finn Ryan Road School, $1,966; and Historic Northampton and Belchertown K-9, $1,966 each.

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that Kiara Sonoda, Jessica Camp, Samantha Sanger, and Lynn Formel have been selected as recipients of the 2020 President’s Award.

The President’s Award is a tradition established by the bank in 1995, affording employees opportunities to nominate their peers for this prestigious honor, which recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank. Sonoda, Camp, Sanger, and Formel were nominated by numerous colleagues at Florence Bank.

Sonoda is a teller operations manager and customer service representative at the downtown Northampton office and has been with Florence Bank for nine years. She attended the University of Massachusetts and is a figure-skating coach for the Skating Club of Amherst.

Camp is a credit analyst at the main headquarters and has been with Florence Bank for three years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Framingham State University.

Sanger is a customer records analyst at the main headquarters and has been with Florence Bank for 10 years. She attended the University of Phoenix.

Formel is a customer service representative at the Hadley branch and has been with Florence Bank for three years.

“These four employees showcase how hard work and determination truly pay off,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “Their peers have praised their dedication, enthusiasm, and the impressive skill set they bring to their respective jobs each day.”

Banking and Financial Services

PV Financial Announces Two Additions to Team

PV Financial Group recently welcomed two new members to its team — Antonio Bastos as retirement plan coordinator and Andrea Santos as digital marketing specialist. Both will be working in PV’s main office located in Ludlow.

Antonio Bastos

Antonio Bastos

Andrea Santos

Andrea Santos

Upon graduating from Nichols College in Dudley with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, Bastos accepted a job with MassMutual Retirement Services. During his five years with the company, he represented and sold MassMutual’s qualified retirement plan platform to small and mid-sized businesses. Bastos also obtained his Series 6 and Series 63 licenses while gaining beneficial knowledge and experience with qualified retirement plans.

At PV Financial, Bastos’s role is to manage all the qualified retirement plan clients, from day-to-day servicing to fielding all inquiries from retirement plan participants and plan trustees. He will also maintain relationships with retirement-plan providers in the industry. Other responsibilities will include staying connected and up-to-date on new products, services, and ERISA compliance regulations so he can properly and confidently serve PV Financial’s retirement plan clients and participants.

“By having Tony join the team at PV Financial, we have committed to the qualified retirement plan marketplace,” said Edward Sokolowski, PV’s managing partner. “As many local financial firms have been exiting this business, Tony will be able to fill the void and offer professional guidance to companies looking for quality advice for their retirement plans.”

Santos graduated from Holyoke Community College with an associate’s degree in Business Administration, as well as from Elms College with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Marketing. Upon graduating from Elms, Santos accepted a job at Northwestern Mutual. During her four years with the company, she held the position of director of Client Services, where she was responsible for the oversight of new business insurance applications and investment accounts, as well as insurance underwriting correspondence. She also worked with clients directly on account inquiries and led the office’s marketing efforts.

At PV Financial, Santos will be the digital marketing specialist. She will be the first point of contact for new and current clients who are a part of PV Financial’s new program, PV Navigator. Other responsibilities include maintaining the program’s website and social media accounts, staying up to date with the services provided within the program, maintaining relationships with the program’s clients, and assisting the advisors with outreach.

“Having Andrea join our team is a major step in the future success of PV Financial,” said Sokolowski. “Andrea’s talents in social media and client relationships will be a cornerstone to our newly launched investment program, PV Navigator.  I look forward to the energy and focus Andrea will bring to our firm and the positive impact she will have on our clients.”


Country Bank Appoints New VP of Marketing

Country Bank announced that Justin Roberts has joined the Marketing and Community Relations team as vice president of Marketing. Roberts’ experience in strategic marketing spans more than a decade in various industries. As a former small-business owner, he brings not just marketing savvy, but real-life experience.

Justin Roberts

Justin Roberts

“I am excited to join the Country Bank team,” Roberts said. “Having admired the brand for several years, I am looking forward to help activate the bank’s founding partnership of the Worcester Red Sox and promoting Country Bank’s presence throughout the region.”

In Roberts’ previous positions, he worked as the Development officer at American International College (AIC) in the office of Institutional Advancement, and also worked at MassLive, where he helped lead the Digital Marketing Strategy team to support local, regional, and national clients. His entrepreneurial spirit recently led him to open his own marketing and community-relations agency before joining the Country Bank team.

Roberts, who earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA in marketing from AIC, is the founder of Suit Up Springfield, a nonprofit organization that provides professional attire and mentorship to young men in Greater Springfield.

He also serves as vice president of the board for Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity. He has served on many nonprofits and community organizations, including Wonderfund of Massachusetts, the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, the Rotary Club of Springfield, and Square One. He is a member of the New England Financial Marketing Assoc. and received the Game Changer award from the Center for Human Development.

“We are thrilled to welcome Justin to the Marketing and Community Relations team. His experience in marketing and digital strategies, combined with his extensive civic and community engagement, makes him a perfect fit for Country Bank,” said Miriam Siegel, first senior vice president of Human Resources. “We’re proud of Justin’s efforts within the communities we serve and look forward to his profound passion for community service while representing Country Bank. u


 

Florence Bank Welcomes Experienced Lender

Florence Bank announced the appointment of Douglas Gilbert to the position of vice president of Commercial Lending. Gilbert comes to the bank with more than 27 years of banking experience.

Douglas Gilbert

Douglas Gilbert

His most recent role was at Country Bank, where he served as first vice president and team leader in the Commercial Lending department. His duties there included managing the Commercial Lending team and an extensive loan portfolio. His experience also includes serving as vice president and head of Commercial Lending at Easthampton Savings Bank and as assistant vice president in Commercial Lending at Westfield Bank.

“It is a great opportunity to be affiliated with Florence Bank, which has such an excellent reputation and does so much good in the community,” Gilbert said. “Everyone here has made me feel right at home from the beginning.”

Gilbert is a certified public accountant who earned an undergraduate degree from Westfield State University and an MBA from the University of Connecticut. He also serves on the board of the Quaboag Valley Business Assistance Corp.

Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank, added that “Doug is a great addition to the Florence Bank team. His significant lending experience coupled with his knowledge of the communities we serve will be a tremendous value to our business customers.”

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Florence Bank celebrated its third Hampden County branch Wednesday morning with a ribbon cutting highlighted by the presentation of a $5,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee.

In attendance at the socially distanced event were Chicopee Mayor John Vieau, Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day, Branch Manager Kimberly Downing, community leaders, and bank employees, board members, and corporators.

“We are a local bank that is managed and staffed by people who live in the local communities we serve,” Day said. “We are part of a team of customers and employees who work together for the common goal of improving our local communities.”

The new branch at 705 Memorial Dr. is the third Florence Bank location in Hampden County to open since 2017, and about 1,000 of the bank’s roughly 5,000 current Hampden County customers live in Chicopee. While noting that technology has made online banking easier and more accessible, Day said Florence Bank built a new branch as a resource for those bank customers.

“We believe a physical location demonstrates our commitment to the financial well-being of this community and its people,” he explained. “Our staff is physically here to help our neighbors with their financial needs.”

The Chicopee branch has an open floor plan with two teller pods and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing.

Along with Downing, other branch employees include Diane Afonso, assistant branch manager; Tracy Keefe, customer service representative and senior teller; Kiara Sonoda, teller operations manager; and Karen Willemain, senior teller.

“We’re thrilled to be here in Chicopee,” Downing said, “and we look forward to becoming part of the fabric of the city.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank named Cynthia Malinowski as this year’s Community Support Award winner. Malinowski, vice president and branch manager of the downtown Northampton office, joined Florence Bank in October 1999 and has 33 years of banking experience.

The Community Support Award was established by the bank in 1997 as a means of formally recognizing employees who are active participants in community events and donate their personal and professional time to local not-for-profit organizations.

Each year, the award recipient can select a nonprofit organization of his or her choice, and the bank will donate to that organization. At Malinowski’s recommendation, Florence Bank will donate $500 to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The mission of the Food Bank is to feed neighbors in need and lead the community in ending hunger.

Malinowski serves as an active member of the Greater Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce. She is also involved with the Easthampton Helping Hand Society and occasionally volunteers at the Easthampton Community Center.

“Cindy is the ideal choice for the Community Support Award,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “Her positive energy, commitment to numerous local nonprofit organizations, and dedication to helping those in need within our community is exemplary.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank promoted Anita Sedlak to the position of vice president, branch manager of the Easthampton office.

Sedlak brings extensive knowledge and skill to her new role. Prior to her recent promotion, she was the senior assistant branch manager at the Easthampton office. During her tenure at the bank, she has been the recipient of the Florence Bank Community Support Award, which is granted to employees who demonstrate superior levels of involvement in the community. She is a graduate of the New England School of Financial Studies.

Sedlak serves her community as treasurer of Easthampton Dollars for Scholars, finance committee member for the Easthampton Helping Hand Society and a board member of the Florence Bank Easthampton Branch Charitable Foundation.

“We are happy to have Anita take on this new role as vice president, branch manager,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “Her knowledge of the Easthampton community and rapport with our customers make her the perfect choice to serve in this capacity.”

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Florence Bank will open its third Hampden County branch at 705 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee on Monday, March 22, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Wednesday, May 5.

“We’re very pleased to be expanding our presence in Hampden County,” said Kevin Day, Florence Bank’s president and CEO. “Our focus is on providing great customer service and helping to reinvigorate the community.”

A small number of bank employees, board members, and corporators will be present for the in-person, socially distanced ribbon cutting, along with Chicopee Mayor John Vieau.

The Chicopee branch has an open floor plan with two teller pods and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing.

Kimberly Downing will serve as assistant vice president and branch manager for the new location. “Florence Bank is known for providing exceptional customer service, so of course I’m thrilled to be part of the team and represent the Florence Bank brand for people in Chicopee,” she said.

Downing attended Holyoke Community College and has 35 years of banking experience. She will manage the daily operations and growth of the branch. She serves as a committee member for McDonald’s Nature Preserve in Wilbraham.

“We are happy Kimberly chose to join the Florence Bank team,” Day said. “Her extensive banking experience and dedication to customer service will serve the Chicopee community well.”

Other employees who will staff the new location are Diane Afonso, assistant branch manager; Tracy Keefe, customer service representative and senior teller; Kiara Sonoda, teller operations manager; and Karen Willemain, senior teller.

In August 2017, Florence Bank opened its first branch in Hampden County at 1010 Union St. in West Springfield, and in December 2018, the bank opened its second location at 1444 Allen Street in Springfield.

“With the addition of a branch in Chicopee, our third in Hampden County, we can really say we’re here, and we’re going to be part of this community for a long time,” Day said.

Florence Bank has nearly 5,000 customers living in Hampden County, including 750 business customers, and Day said the bank looks forward to deepening its impact in the region and working with neighboring businesses.

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank donated nearly $100,000 in 2020 to support a new food-distribution collaborative and nine other longtime nonprofits with a mission to feed people who are battling food insecurity in the Pioneer Valley.

The gifts have been made since March to organizations in all corners of the region, including the hilltowns, to help ease the economic strain brought on by COVID-19.

“We are so grateful. Without the support of donors, we would not have been able to continue our mission,” said Ruben Reyes, executive director of Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry in Chicopee, one of the recipients of bank funds. “COVID has affected us very hard. All of our fundraisers were canceled, and we were very worried about how to fund our programs.”

Compounding the problem, COVID-19 has also affected Lorraine’s clientele. Reyes said he is seeing an additional 200 to 300 families each month, and provides a month’s supply of groceries and dinners five nights a week to a total of 600 to 700 families. “We’re seeing a lot more families who typically would not need pantry services. They are coming to our doors for the very first time.”

In the spring, Florence Bank donated $50,000 to the Community Food Distribution Project created jointly by the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton to help fund emergency food distribution in the early months of the pandemic.

The new collaborative makes food staples available through on-site distributions at nearly a dozen local sites. Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton established the organization in partnership with Community Action Pioneer Valley, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the city of Northampton, and Northampton Public Schools. Grow Food Northampton and the Northampton Survival Center each received $25,000 from the bank.

Since May, Florence Bank has also made the following gifts to these local nonprofits: Easthampton Community Center, $7,500; Easthampton Congregational Church, $2,500; Open Pantry Community Services Inc. of Springfield, $1,000; Chesterfield Community Cupboard, $5,000; Amherst Survival Center, $10,000; the Gray House Market of Springfield, $5,000; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as part of Monte’s March, $1,000; Springfield Rescue Mission, $10,000; and Lorraine’s, which received $1,000.

Florence Bank also nominated Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen to receive a $5,000 award from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. Charitable Foundation, which the nonprofit has accepted.

“Florence Bank cares about its community, and in these unprecedented times, there’s nothing more important than helping our neighbors,” President Kevin Day said. “The pandemic has heightened food insecurity and has prompted many people who never before needed assistance to reach out for help.

“Florence Bank was founded on the idea of neighbors helping neighbors,” he added. “What better way to display that principle than to contribute to the organizations that are meeting the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors?”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank promoted Shelley Moreau to the position of vice president, mortgage compliance specialist in the Residential Lending department at the main office in Florence.

Moreau has been an employee of Florence Bank for 37 years. Prior to her recent promotion, she served as the assistant vice president, mortgage compliance specialist. She is a graduate of the American Bankers’ Assoc. Compliance School for Lending.

During her tenure at the bank, she has been the recipient of the President’s Award, which is awarded to employees who demonstrate superior levels of performance, customer service, and overall contribution to the bank. Moreau serves her community as treasurer and board member of the Hilltown Community Development Corp. in Chesterfield.

“We are thrilled to announce Shelley’s well-deserved promotion,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “She is a dedicated and valued employee who consistently delivers great results. She has been an asset to the bank for many years, and I look forward to watching her progress even further in the years to come.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently donated $10,000 to the Amherst Survival Center, which connects residents of Hampshire and Franklin counties to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts.

Since mid-March, the Amherst Survival Center has focused its resources on food and nutrition programs, ensuring its ability to provide hot meals to go, daily access to fresh produce and bread, and full grocery shops from its food pantry in as safe a manner as possible.

This summer, the center established a strategic plan to address the steady rise of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their plan entails doubling the food provided by the food pantry while also expanding grocery offerings to roughly two weeks each month. Additionally, the center will expand its staff in order to implement evening and weekend hours and integrate deliveries into the schedule with a goal of delivering food to 1,000 to 1,500 area residents per month.

“We had a very busy summer season,” said Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center. “We’ve continued to see more and more people for lunch, and had many new households sign up for the Food Pantry, both to pick up on site and for our rapidly growing delivery program. With the help of our amazing volunteers and support staff, we spent the summer passing out produce, cooking up to 250 lunches per day, and in August alone, we delivered groceries to nearly 1,000 people.”

These efforts have been fueled by generous donations, Ben-Ezra added. “With support from organizations like Florence Bank, we’ll be able to expand our evening and weekend hours to facilitate access for those returning to work. By year end, we expect to serve 6,000 residents, a 50% increase from fiscal year 2019.”

Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day added that “we’re thrilled to support the Amherst Survival Center as they continue their important work and service the increased amount of food-insecure people in need. They’ve done an outstanding job throughout the pandemic and, during the summer alone, distributed more than 200,000 meals to community members. We’re proud to stand beside them and support their integral efforts to make sure we all have the food we need.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank hired Jessica Wales to the position of vice president and branch manager of the Granby and Belchertown offices.

Wales studied at Ashworth College, where she received her bachelor’s degree in management, and is currently pursuing an MBA in marketing there. She is also a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies.

She is a recipient of Florence Bank’s Community Support Award, an annual tradition established by the bank in 1997 that formally recognizes employees who are active participants in community events and donate their personal and professional time to local not-for-profit organizations. She was also recognized by BusinessWest in 2014 as a member of the 40 Under Forty, which celebrates young business and civic leaders in Western Mass.

Wales serves her community as a board member of the United Way of Hampshire County and is an active member of its finance and investment committee. She also serves as a committee member of both the Western Massachusetts Women’s Business Network and Cooley Dickinson’s Golf FORE Health.

“We are thrilled to have Jessica back with our Florence Bank family,” President and CEO Kevin Day. “Jessica is a hard worker who has not only impressed her peers but has also made a lasting impression on our customers. I know we will see excellent contributions from her in the years to come.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank has promoted Shelley Daughdrill to the position of senior vice president, director of retail banking.

In her new role, she will oversee the bank’s retail banking operations and direct and supervise the retail administrative staff and managers throughout the bank’s branches, as well as the Customer Service Center. Daughdrill first joined Florence Bank in 2005. Prior to her recent promotion, she served as vice president and area manager.

Daughdrill brings extensive knowledge and skills to her new role. During her tenure at the bank, she’s been the recipient of both the President’s Award and Community Service Award. These awards are given by the bank to employees who consistently go above and beyond at work and in the community. Daughdrill is also the recipient of the 2011 Paul Winske Access Award given by Stavros, a local non-profit organization that supports people with disabilities. The annual award is given to organizations and people who go above and beyond for the people they serve.

Daughdrill is a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies at Babson College. Additionally, she is currently enrolled at UMass Amherst pursuing a business of arts degree in business studies. She proudly serves her community as a board member and attendance chair of the Amherst Rotary Club.

“We are thrilled to see Shelley’s career progress with the bank as she begins her new role as senior vice president, director of retail banking,” said Florence Bank president and chief executive officer, Kevin R. Day. “Shelley’s skills and expertise are invaluable, and I look forward to seeing her thrive in her new role.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank donated $5,000 to Chesterfield’s Community Food Cupboard, which was recently established by Chesterfield’s Council on Aging and a group of volunteers, the Community Cupboard Support Team, to help needy families access food during the COVID-19 crisis. The team includes members of the Select Board, trustees of the Chesterfield Library, along with Council on Aging board members and the Chesterfield Finance Committee.

When the Chesterfield Community Food Cupboard was initiated, it solely offered dry and canned foods and has recently integrated dairy, eggs, fruits, and fresh vegetables. “With many families finding their incomes reduced, the need to travel to larger stores several miles away has become a difficult option,” volunteer Denise Cormier said. “Our small food cupboard has become a valuable resource for locals as they appreciate being able to get food in their own community rather than having to ask for help at a food bank in a neighboring town.”

Janice Gibeau, director of Chesterfield’s Council on Aging, noted that “the creation of the Cupboard has been both a family affair and a community affair. The Cupboard has been a go-to place for nourishment and ‘food for the mind’ as we provided books and games while libraries were closed. Many people reported that they use the Cupboard because of safety concerns with large grocery stores. We hope to continue into the fall while we seek an indoor site with heat and other utilities.”

Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day added that “we are pleased to be able to contribute to the newly established Community Food Cupboard so they can support the people of Chesterfield and the hilltowns with the essential, fresh foods they need.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank promoted Jennifer Halpin to the position of Employee Relations officer in the Human Resources department at the main office in Florence.

Halpin joined Florence Bank in 2014. Prior to her recent promotion, she served as the Employee Relations manager. She holds a bachelor of business administration degree from UMass Amherst.

During her tenure at the bank, she has been the recipient of the President’s Award, which is awarded to employees who demonstrate superior levels of performance, customer service, and overall contribution to the bank.

“We are thrilled to see Jennifer’s career progress with the bank as she begins her new role as Employee Relations officer,” said Kevin Day, bank president and CEO. “Her consistent performance, dependability, and expert knowledge have made her an integral asset.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that Rebecca Albro was recently selected as a recipient of its President’s Award.

The President’s Award was established by the bank in 1995, affording employees the annual opportunity to nominate their peers for this prestigious honor that recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank.

Albro, who was nominated by numerous colleagues, is a teller operations manager and customer-service representative in the main branch in Florence. She began work at Florence Bank in 2014.

“For nearly six years, Becky has been a reliable asset to our organization,” Florence Bank President Kevin Day said. “Her ability to manage and encourage others is admirable. Becky is the consummate employee to receive the President’s Award.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank donated $7,500 to the Easthampton Community Center to support its Food Pantry Program that serves 22 towns throughout the Pioneer Valley.

The Easthampton Community Center’s Food Pantry currently provides food each month to 6,000 food-insecure individuals in need, including more than 600 children in the greater Easthampton area through the Kid’s Summer Pantry Program.

The Easthampton Community Center has been a dependable resource in the Easthampton community for 46 years. The core of the Community Center’s mission is to provide services and assistance to residents through its Food Pantry, Community Care Kitchen, and Clothing Closet programs. Additionally, the Community Center serves as a meeting space for community groups and celebratory gatherings.

“We are pleased to be able to contribute to the Easthampton Community Center so they can continue to serve the people of the Greater Easthampton area with the essential resources offered through their Food Pantry,” said Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day.

Added Robin Bialecki, Easthampton Community Center’s executive director, “since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Easthampton Community Center has seen a huge influx in the number of individuals in need. Donations like this from Florence Bank will help keep our mission sustainable and strong during this challenging time.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that Dawn Harrington was recently selected as a recipient of its President’s Award.

The President’s Award was established by the bank in 1995, affording employees the annual opportunity to nominate their peers for this prestigious honor that recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank. Harrington was nominated by numerous colleagues.

Harrington, a senior mortgage underwriter in the main office’s Mortgage Origination department, joined Florence Bank in 2016 and has 19 years of banking experience. She earned her associate degree in legal studies from Bay Path University.

“Dawn has been a reliable asset to our organization since day one,” said Kevin Day, president of Florence Bank. “Her energy is boundless, and her ability to encourage her team is admirable. Dawn is the consummate employee to receive the President’s Award.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that Matthew Pittenger was recently selected as a recipient of its President’s Award.

The President’s Award was established by the bank in 1995, affording employees the annual opportunity to nominate their peers for this prestigious honor that recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank. Pittenger was nominated by numerous colleagues.

Pittenger is the senior information technology specialist at the main headquarters in Florence and has worked at Florence Bank for six years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from UMass Amherst. Pittenger also holds a Comptia A+ certification, which is the industry standard for establishing careers in information technology and the preferred qualifying credential for technical support and operational roles.

“Matt is a perfect example of how hard work and determination truly pays off,” said Kevin Day, president and CEO of Florence Bank. “His peers have praised his dedication, enthusiasm, and the impressive skill set that he brings to the job each day. We’re happy to have Matt as part of our team, and the President’s Award is the perfect milestone to showcase his service to the bank.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that David Cisek was recently selected as a recipient of its President’s Award.

The President’s Award was established by the bank in 1995, affording employees the annual opportunity to nominate their peers for this prestigious honor that recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank. Cisek was nominated by numerous colleagues.

Cisek, a senior accounting associate in Florence Bank’s main office, has been with the bank for five years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in ethnic and gender studies and a master’s degree from Westfield State University. In addition, he also serves as an adjunct professor at Westfield State’s Department of Ethnic & Gender Studies.

“The long list of comments we received about David tells the story — from ‘he consistently goes above and beyond’ to ‘his enthusiasm and commitment to his job puts everyone in a positive, happy mood,’” said Kevin Day, president of Florence Bank. “David is a true asset to the bank, and the President’s Award is well-deserved.”

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank has pledged $50,000 to the YMCA of Greater Springfield to help fund the new wellness and childcare center that opened at Springfield’s Tower Square on Dec. 5.  

The new, state-of-the-art facility includes a 15,000-square-foot education center that serves infants through elementary-school students. Additionally, the facility includes a new, 12,000-square-foot wellness center with premium strength and conditioning equipment in a space that overlooks the city. Community support will also allow the organization to build an endowment fund to ensure fiscal strength for its growing camp programs and facilities. 

The YMCA in Springfield, established in 1852, currently serves more than 15,000 members and program participants. In addition to the Springfield-based programs, the YMCA of Greater Springfield operates the Scantic Valley YMCA, Wilbraham Early Learning Center, Stony Brook Acres Camp in Wilbraham, and Camp Weber in West Springfield. 

“We are pleased to be able to contribute to the YMCA of Greater Springfield to help the organization continue to fulfill their mission and grow in the center of Springfield,” said Florence Bank President Kevin Day.

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