Page 25 - BusinessWest January 20, 2021
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Checking on the Community
Banks, Credit Unions Ramp Up Philanthropy During Difficult Year
PBy Joseph Bednar
aul Scully says local philanthropy is baked into the DNA of this region’s financial institutions.
“Banks have always been great about support- ing communities. And we are fairly philanthrop- ic,” Country Bank’s president and CEO added, noting that the bank gave $1.3 million to local nonprofits last year, touching about 400 different
“If you’re still employed with no interruption in your household income, you might not realize a lot people were living on a shoestring, and that shoestring broke. The opportunity to donate and give back is huge.”
organizations in some way.
Those numbers aren’t atypical. What made
2020 slightly different is where that money went. “Of that, about a half-million went to what I
would call COVID-related initiatives,” Scully said, citing causes ranging from equipping frontline workers at hospitals to meeting soaring demand
at local food banks due to the pandemic’s economic impact on families.
At Freedom Credit Union’s April board meeting — the first one after it and the region’s other banking institu- tions closed their doors in mid-March — Presi- dent and CEO Glenn Welch said he asked to make larger monthly donations to the com- munity than usual.
“I told them, ‘I’m
not sure what’s going to
happen, but we need
to support the community.’ The board agreed and allocated a chunk of money that we could utilize in the community.”
In the days that followed, Freedom announced a donation of $55,000 to be dispersed among several community organizations at the front lines of the local fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, including Baystate Health Founda- tion; Mercy Medical Center; Cooley Dickinson Health Care; the Food Bank of Western Massa-
Paul Scully says much of Country Bank’s philanthropy in 2020 was directed at “COVID- related initiatives.”
chusetts; Hampshire Hospitality Group, whose Hampshire County Heroes feed first respond- ers in Hampshire County; and Feed the Fight, an initiative of Peter Pan Bus Lines and area restaurants to feed healthcare workers and first
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