HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank announced that its charitable giving to nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley and Northern Conn. in 2020 surpassed its previous record high, set in 2019, making this the largest amount ever donated in any year in the bank’s history. Contributions totaled $1,300,000 in 2020, representing almost a doubling of annual contributions over the past five years (from $714,000 in 2016), and a cumulative total of $6 million over the past five years (2016 to 2020).
“While the COVID pandemic impacted many areas of our local economy, we were proud to increase our level of giving to the communities we serve, especially during such a time where people within our communities are in such need,” said Tom Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “As a mutual institution, we have a special responsibility to our depositors and our communities, and our strong support of so many worthy causes is one of the ways we demonstrate our commitment.”
Highlights of the support from the past year included grants to 292 unique nonprofits in the region, with an average donation of approximately $4,500 per cause. While the long-standing funding priorities of PeoplesBank include academic excellence, community vibrancy, and environmental sustainability, support in 2020 also included donations to COVID emergency relief funds and to purchase PPE for frontline responders, to organizations fighting food insecurity and homelessness, and to many area youth groups and early-childhood education centers.
“Way Finders is privileged to be a long-time beneficiary of PeoplesBank’s charitable giving and volunteer programs. Year after year, they make significant investments in programs and services that advance our communities,” said Keith Fairey, president and CEO of Way Finders. “In 2020, individuals and families in our region faced extraordinary challenges as a result of COVID-19. We know we can count on PeoplesBank to invest in meaningful solutions that will help people who are facing crisis now, and that they will also partner with us long-term as we work toward and advocate for equitable recovery.
Importantly, it is not just cash contributions that the bank has provided to assist these efforts — or, more specifically, that the bank’s employees have provided. The bank’s associates have consistently contributed more than 10,000 hours per year to local causes, with service ranging from board membership to volunteering in food pantries and survival centers, and within schools and youth groups. Though this number dropped considerably in the current environment due to social-distancing restrictions, it has long been a tradition for the bank to not only enable, but also actively encourage, volunteerism throughout the ranks.
“PeoplesBank has been an enthusiastic supporter of our work to help repair homes for low-income families with children, the elderly, military veterans, and people with special needs for many years,” said Colleen Loveless, president and CEO of Revitalize Community Development Corp. “They roll up their sleeves to volunteer and donate, not just the bank but their employees as well.”
PeoplesBank was once again recognized by the Boston Business Journal as a Top Charitable Contributor for the 13th consecutive year, and was once again the top-ranked bank headquartered in Western Mass.
“We believe that we ‘punch above our weight’ in the region,” Senecal said, “and, as an institution that is determined to remain independent — we will never be bought or sold — we look forward to continuing, and growing, our philanthropic giving in the years to come.”