The First County Bank Foundation, has awarded nearly $6 million in grants since its formation in 2001. The Foundation will be celebrating this achievement alongside community nonprofits during its year-end gathering planned for this evening, December 4, at the Italian Center of Stamford from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.
“It’s another stellar year for the First County Bank Foundation!” said Rey Giallongo, president of First County Bank Foundation and chairman and CEO of First County Bank. “Hitting the $5 million mark last year was a real milestone, and this year, we’re approaching $6 million in grants awarded to nonprofits in lower Fairfield County since the Foundation’s inception in 2001. It is such an honor to make these grants available to many important causes in our community.”
In 2013, the Foundation awarded 82 grants totaling approximately $560,000 to nonprofit agencies supporting community and economic development for children and families.. Of the $560,000, $27,000 were CommunityFirst Grants which are awarded year round. Since its inception the Foundation has awarded more than $5.8 million to over 300 community partners.
“This is an exciting achievement for the Foundation and we want to celebrate it with our nonprofit partners,” said Katherine Harris, vice president of First County Bank Foundation and president and COO of First County Bank. “I was at the bank when the Foundation was established and during that first year, we awarded $173,000 to area nonprofits. Year after year, we demonstrate our commitment to our core mission to support local communities through giving, volunteering and goodwill.”
As part of the December 4 celebration at the Italian Center, Teresa Younger, Executive Director of Connecticut’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), will be giving the keynote address on Strength in Numbers: The Voice of Women in Elected Office, Leadership and Philanthropy to an audience of approximately 200 nonprofit executives and guests.
Younger’s expertise in women’s economic security, health and safety, and the elimination of gender discrimination allows her to represent Connecticut’s women as she directs the PCSW in the fulfillment of its mandate. A lifelong Girl Scout, Younger recently finished two terms as President of the board of the Girl Scouts of Connecticut. She currently serves on several other boards including the Women’s Campaign School at Yale and the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. Nonprofit executives interested in attending the December 4 event at the Italian Center should call 203-462-4858 or email email@example.com.
Highlights of Foundation Grants Awarded in 2013
In line with the Foundation’s mission is the commitment to invest in success. As a new nonprofit opening a resource center for recent immigrants to the area, Neighbors Link Stamford needed support from the community. They needed volunteers and grant money, but also a bank to set up their 501(c)(3) account. When they turned to First County Bank – they found all three.
“I think the thing I like best about First County Bank is their holistic approach, I’m not sure how else to explain it. They were very helpful in setting up the bank account to hold our 501(c)(3) funds, but they are so much more than just our bank,” said Catalina Horak, executive director of Neighbors Link Stamford. “The First County Bank Foundation awarded us a grant to help us achieve our goals, and each year since we opened their executives have spent their community service day with us building planting beds and planting vegetables. They truly understand and actively support our social mission. There’s nothing more valuable than that.” The Foundation awarded $5,000 to Neighbors Link Stamford, which helped to expand high impact strategies for successful integration of immigrant families.
First County Bank Foundation is positioned to give back to numerous programs and initiatives that help strengthen and support the community. One such program is the Homes with Hope’s Bacharach Community, which provides emergency shelter for homeless mothers and their children.
“Last year, in Connecticut, more than 14,000 people – including 2,500 children – entered homelessness throughout the course of the year,” said Katherine Harris. “As a community, we need to do more to help these families find affordable or supportive housing.”
“The First County Bank Foundation has been a wonderful partner to Homes with Hope for the past decade. Their support of the Bacharach Community has been of enormous help to us and we thank them for being great neighbors!” said Jeff Wieser, president, Homes with Hope.
The Foundation awarded $10,000 to Homes with Hope’s Bacharach Community, located on Wassell Lane in Westport. The Community provides emergency shelter for up to six families headed by women.
First County Bank Foundation makes the grade by awarding $5,000 to the Greenwich Alliance for Education’s “Going Places with Books” bilingual early literacy program. The program targets preschoolers and is offered by way of a Storymobile that travels around the community, providing interactive read-aloud experiences.
“We strive to foster enthusiasm for books and language and promote young children’s mastery of the early literacy skills they will need to succeed in kindergarten,” said Julie Faryniarz, executive director of the Alliance. “Because of First County Bank Foundation’s generosity, our trained presenters are able to provide a rich curriculum for young children offering the building blocks needed for a future filled with the love for reading.”
Seniors compose the largest single segment of our country’s population today. Of the total population living in Fairfield County, 14% are seniors, according to US Census Bureau data for 2012.
“The senior segment is very important to us,” said Giallongo. “From our First County Advisors to our bank products, we go the extra mile providing services that are of particular interest to them. The success of the Bank comes from our customers. The Foundation’s grants are a return to the community for the Bank’s success, and it’s rewarding to see funds going toward programs that support our senior citizens.”
Among the many senior organizations First County Bank Foundation has donated to is the Stamford Senior Center, through its CommunityFirst grant program. The Center’s mission is to provide programs that will help all seniors to be active, healthy and contributing members of the community. The Center has been a beneficiary of the Foundation’s grants since 2009, most recently for their Health and Wellness Programs.
“Without the consistent generosity and kindness of the First County Bank Foundation, we would not have been able to provide the kind of unique health and wellness programs offered to our members, among them Yoga, Tai Chi and Dance classes and our health and wellness lectures,” said Ana Nelson, president and executive director of the Center. “Keeping our members active physically, intellectually and socially is vital to their overall health. We are grateful to the Foundation for its support and belief in what we do.”
There were several new grant recipients this year including Darien Fire Department, New Canaan Mounted Troop and Keystone House in Norwalk. Founded in 1972, Keystone House provides residential and psychosocial services to Norwalk area adults with psychiatric disabilities.
“On behalf of the Foundation, I want to personally thank these organizations and the people who work with them for helping the citizens of lower Fairfield County,” said Giallongo. “We are proud to support all our nonprofits who have demonstrated leadership, creativity and innovation and countless hours toward bettering the lives of others.”