First County Bank Foundation

Three High School Seniors Each Win $5,000 Scholarships From The Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award

L to R Standing; First County Bank Chairman & CEO Rey Giallongo, First County Bank President & COO Katherine Harris, First County Bank Board of Directors Member, Richard Taber L to R Seated; Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award Winners, Ashyla S. Cody, Andrew K. Sawyer, Katarzyna Babinska

Three high school seniors were recently recognized as winners of the Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award administered by the First County Bank Foundation.

Katarzyna Babinski from Stamford’s Academy of Information Technology & Engineering, Andrew Sawyer from King Low Heywood Thomas in Stamford and Ashyla Cody from Stamford High School each won a $5,000 scholarship from the First County Bank Foundation for being recognized as outstanding citizens in their communities.  The money will be used toward their continuing education.  The award is named after Richard E. Taber who retired as chairman and CEO of First County Bank in March 2011.  It is in recognition of Taber’s 40-plus-year career at the bank and innumerable contributions to the community through the First County Bank Foundation.

“Each year, the First County Bank Foundation increases its support to nonprofit organizations that support community and economic development for children and families.  The Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award expands on this program by offering scholarships to exceptional graduating seniors,” said Rey Giallongo, chairman and CEO of First County Bank, and president of the foundation.  “We are excited to be able to offer scholarships to such amazing students and know we are supporting future leaders in healthcare, business, and sports management. This year’s recipients are truly exceptional!”

“The achievements of these young adults in the realms of citizenship, leadership, academics, service and sportsmanship are being honored with this award,” said Dick Taber, a member of the board of directors at First County Bank.  “I am very proud to have my name associated with such generous individuals as these three young adults.”

This annual award honors high school students living in lower Fairfield County who consistently demonstrate good citizenship at school, at home and in the community.  The program awards scholarships to three deserving students and is designed to recognize and encourage young people who are honest, hard-working, helpful and fair.  Each year, the foundation accepts student applications from Jan. 1 to May 31.  Winners are notified in June.

When asked about receiving the award, Andrew Sawyer said, “I was very excited to win the award. When I got the call, my heart dropped, I was at a loss for words. The First County Bank Foundation is a great organization that’s committed to helping young students and future leaders succeed. I felt very thankful they picked me among so many students that applied. I’m looking to become a sports manager, this a great start for me and I’m able to contribute to my own college tuition.” Andrew will be attending Endicott College in Beverly, MA in the fall.

“When Mr. Giallongo called me and said I was a winner, I was getting my hair done,” said Ashyla Cody. “I was so happy and felt blessed that First County Bank Foundation chose me as one of the winners and grateful that they saw a lot of potential in me. My goal is to finish undergrad, pursue physical therapy and one day design my own clinic. I’d like to work with pro athletes and basketball players and when I’m successful, give back to my community. First County Bank Foundation is my inspiration.” This fall Ashyla will be attending the University of Connecticut Storrs campus.

Katarzyna Babinska, who plans to attend the University of Connecticut in Storrs said, “When I first learned about the Taber Citizenship Award, I thought this would be a great opportunity to help me with my aspiration to become a nurse. When I learned that I won, I was deeply grateful and thrilled. Thank you to the First County Bank foundation for giving me the chance to shine.”

The Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award does not seek to salute star scholastic or athletic performers.  Applicants are judged by the following characteristics:

  1. Citizenship – The student must be regarded as dependable and demonstrate respect for people, property and the law.  The student is also courteous, helpful and caring in their relationships with other students, teachers, coaches and adults.
  2. Leadership – The student demonstrates an ability to work with and motivate others, has sound values, good judgment, sense of fairness and has earned the respect of their peers.
  3. Academics – The student continually strives to the limits of their abilities, both in the classroom and at home, to achieve those personal academic goals that their parents and teachers believe are within reach of the student.  This in no way implies that the candidate must be academically superior.
  4. Service – The student readily and unselfishly helps others at home, at school and in their community to a degree that is judged exceptional for a person of the candidate’s age.
  5. Sportsmanship – The student demonstrates an earnest attempt to do their best during athletic or group competitions, shows a respect for the rules of that competition, and in terms of priorities, place the success of the team above a need for personal advancement.  This does not imply that the student must be an outstanding athlete.


Each winner receives a personalized certificate; a check for $5,000 will be sent directly to the school of choice; a congratulatory advertisement will appear in the local newspaper, including a photo; and winners will be prominently displayed with a photo on First County Bank’s Website.

Established in 2001 in honor of the bank’s 150th anniversary, the First County Bank Foundation was created to distribute funds annually to nonprofit organizations that support community and economic development for children and families.  As a mutual bank with no shareholders, First County Bank considers contributions made by the foundation a means of paying dividends back to the local communities it serves.  Since its inception in 2001, the foundation has awarded a total of 544 individual grants, worth more than $5 million.


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