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.