Cornerstones of the Community
Local financial institutions provide a backbone of support for our community
At the core of our inter-connected community here on the Cape and Islands, a network of banking, investment and financial management entities keep local businesses running, depositors securely serviced, investors happy, and in so many ways provide an intricate web of connection and support for every tier of our unique society. Financial organizations are as common as the noses on our own faces, and equally as critical for essential functions, perhaps no more than within the charitable landscape of our community. It is easy to attribute the generous giving of the Cape’s financial institutions to be an expected by-product of merely managing large sums of capital. However, a closer look reveals an industry full of individuals who view their professional and personal commitment to giving as an extension of who they are.
Dorothy Savarese, chair and CEO of Cape Cod 5, the region’s largest financial institution, says, ”As a community bank, and as a mutual community bank, we actually feel as though it is our obligation, and it is in our DNA to support the community.” Savarese, who chose Cape Cod 5 among a variety of offers within the Cape banking community when she moved here over 25 years ago, says, “I came to Cape Cod 5 because of the bank’s focus on community. In fact, that year (1993) they were chosen to receive a ‘Philanthropist of the Year’ award.” Savarese reflects on the way the Cape has changed since she first arrived, and thereby how the needs and resources the bank administers have also evolved. “It has changed so dramatically, and yet the forces of that change were in place even at that time,” she recalls. “The expansion of tourism had been a strong economic driver for many years. Then, adding the expansion of the economy from second homeowners has been a good driver by offering opportunities to the home and hospitality industries. But at the same time, it has applied significant pressure to the availability of affordable housing. The attractiveness of our region, both for retirees and visitors, has provided welcome economic effects, and yet it has come with a lot of challenges.”
Therein lies the balance that local financial institutions continue to strive to maintain as they serve depositors, borrowers and investors. Like dropping a pebble in a pool, the prosperity of a community does not come without causing a ripple effect. “The bank recognizes the gap that needs to be bridged between the opportunity for prosperity as well as the challenges within the community, in order to create a desirable place to live that keeps that prosperity going,” Savarese confirms.
Theresa Richards grew up on the Cape. She still calls Chatham home. The vice president and district manager for Rockland Trust speaks with unwavering passion when she discusses her commitment to this community. “I am Cape Cod,” she confirms. “I feel so enriched to serve this community, professionally as well as charitably. So much of what we do in our communities extends beyond our banking workforce. I interact with people’s lives every day, and if I am not in tune to how I can help, I’m simply not doing my job.” Richards, who travels the length of the Cape says that the network of caring and cooperation is at the core of the bank’s values.
With the introduction of COVID, the banks found themselves in the midst of a variety of maelstroms, from the pressures and volumes associated with administering a tsunami of Paycheck Protection Program loans for the Small Business Association to re-assessing the allocation of charitable giving slated for the coming year. “Before, everything was so effortless. When we created our budgets, it was based a normal year. We quickly realized we couldn’t do that. We needed to respond quickly, but we need to be thoughtful about where we could make the most impact,” Richards states.
Lori Meads, president and CEO at Seamen’s Bank in Provincetown, says that their 169 year commitment to the Outer Cape communities presented unique challenges that had much to do with predicting the future, not a skill often taught in business school. “No one knew what the full effect of the pandemic would be on our primarily seasonal, tourist-driven economy,” Meads recalls. As a native of Truro, Meads understands the needs of the Outer Cape economy. “We were there for our local businesses and nonprofit organizations who provide the much needed services for the community. The Seamen’s Bank Long Point Charitable Foundation has taken a more focused position on supporting health and human services organizations during this time and I am proud of our team and how hard everyone has worked to make a difference.” Meads stresses the value of a community bank, “When people needed a place of support, they knew where to go, and we were there for them.”
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