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North Hills Monthly

Banks Giving Back to Communities through Volunteer Efforts

Apr 01, 2018 09:36AM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch

Mars Bank employees

Banks not only help people invest in their dreams by lending them money, but many of them also invest in their communities by promoting a culture of volunteerism and charitable works.

At Omega Federal Credit Union in Ross, for example, the employees support multiple organizations in the area, delivering Meals on Wheels every week and volunteering at North Hills Community Outreach each month. They are also responsible for helping the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy plant and maintain the garden on McKnight Road in front of McIntyre Square. Other beneficiaries of Omega’s commitment to community service include Toys for Tots, HEARTH, The Light of Light Rescue Mission, and the Animal Rescue League, to name a few.

Employees can volunteer as a group or alone, with incentives given if they volunteer after hours or on weekends.

“We have an employee giving fund that employees contribute to—if employees choose to wear jeans to work, then they have to make a contribution to the giving fund,” explained Cassie Byrski, vice president of marketing and membership. “We also sell chocolate bars in all of our branches to benefit this fund. Last year we were able to make a donation to Children’s Hospital with a portion of the funds raised. 

“We feel like community volunteering is important and consistent with the credit union philosophy of people helping people,” added Byrski. “Getting out and making even a small contribution to help our local communities is rewarding for our employees, and we believe that it sets us apart as a financial institution that truly cares and strives to make a difference.”

Another bank that is very active in the community, both in the North Hills and throughout Pittsburgh, is WesBanco. According to Tony Rocco, senior vice president of community banking, this culture of volunteerism and giving back has been part of the bank’s culture from the beginning.

“It was always a primary function of community banks to be involved and to help businesses and residents in the local neighborhood,” he explained.

WesBanco’s involvement in various causes extends far and wide. With 37 offices spread out over five counties, each of its banking center managers is involved in several organizations including community development groups, chambers of commerce, nonprofits, or civic groups like Rotary and Lions’ clubs. Rocco himself has been active in the Northern Allegheny Rotary Club for more than 20 years, which has consistently contributed to local organizations such as Northland Library, HEARTH and Crisis Center North.

WesBanco’s employees periodically collect donations at banking centers for specific charities and also walk for causes. Perrysville Branch Manager Linda Yon arranges car washes with Boy Scout Troop #368 to help them raise money for camping trips in combination with collecting canned goods and money for North Hills Food Bank. She has been conducting a Teach Your Children to Save class for several years and teaches financial literacy at West View, Highcliff and McKnight elementary schools. The branch staff has also volunteered for more than 10 years at the St. Teresa Festival, which is a major fundraiser for the church.

WesBanco donates money as well as time. “We have a significant budget earmarked for charitable giving; we look at opportunities throughout our market and deploy the funds as best we can. There are a lot of needs, and we work to have a positive impact on as many community organizations as possible,” said Rocco.

Mars Bank is also committed to community service and charitable donations.

“In 2017, the commitment of the bank and its staff was over $115,000 in direct donations and sponsorships and 3,500 hours of community service and hours,” said Tracie Williams, vice president, human resources.

In recent years, the bank has helped with food donations and packing baskets for North Hills Community Outreach’s program, Thanksgiving on Every Table, and also volunteered with and provided sponsorship for Big Brother Big Sisters. They’ve helped to sort and distribute food for the Lighthouse Foundation’s Produce to People Program, and they’ve helped to fund and provide mortgages for the residents of Hosanna Industries, as well as worked on home repairs and helping with a “blitz build” of a home.

One major initiative in which the bank is involved is in sponsoring financial literacy education at Pine-Richland and Mars Area High Schools as well as first-time homebuyer events to help students and the public understand personal finance in order to reach their goals.

“As a community bank, we are focused on the areas where we work and live,” said Williams. “We support some organizations because our staff has an interest and passion in certain community efforts. This permits us to participate more directly with local and targeted groups.” 

Williams explained that the bank coordinates service days and activities that provide service opportunities for staff, and they are permitted to take paid time to participate in quarterly volunteer events, such as the United Way Week of Caring. They also hold monthly Jeans Days, in which staff is permitted to wear jeans to work in exchange for donating to a designated charitable organization. 

“The bank’s focus on community service is part of our mission. We believe that the impact of our time and treasure is reaching far beyond the numbers to change lives, families, neighborhoods and our communities,” said Williams.