In a crowded dining room at the Golden Slipper Center for Seniors, the Citizens Bank Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia kicked off a second year of their "Citizens Community Bridge" initiative with an important step: more money.
Citizens Bank Executive Vice President Edward J. Ryan presented a check for $110,000 to Federation President and CEO Ira M. Schwartz, capping off the two-year, $250,000 donation from the Citizens Bank Foundation.
The funding focuses on six specific areas that Federation programs tackle: reducing hunger, increasing financial literacy and self-sufficiency, providing food to the elderly, offering emergency assistance, and boosting social action and service.
Ryan lauded the Federation for its work, and added that the support of Citizens Bank comes not just in financial terms, but in personal ones as well.
The foundation's goal is not simply to donate cash, he said, but to get its volunteers involved in worthy community service. The volunteerism he touted was demonstrated that very day, as seven employees from Citizens Bank packaged nonperishable food items for families in need.
He described the successes that the grant money has provided in its first year, which run the gamut from education to elder care. Seven scholarships were provided to the Jewish Employment and Vocational Service for career training, so that people could learn the skills to become electricians, plumbers and court reporters, among other trades. The grant would also provide food for the 144 families added over the last year to the lists of the Jewish Relief Agency, which works to distribute kosher food to some 2,000 families a month.
The Citizens Bank Foundation and the Golden Slipper Club and Charities have given 52 emergency grants to be used for heating bills and rent for senior citizens, and the Jewish Community Center's Cook for a Friend program provided 20,000 meals to 200 homebound seniors in 2006.
Schwartz emphasized that the bank had "created a bridge between the needs we've identified and the programs that positively impact these needs."
Ryan noted that the bank has a credo: colleagues, community and customers. "If we don't support the community that we work in, then it won't be as vibrant."
About a year-and-a-half ago, bank employees suggested that the foundation pair up with Federation because of the wide variety of programs it participates in, said Sylvia T. Bronner, senior vice president for public affairs at Citizens Bank. "These match up very nicely with what Citizens is about," she said.
Deborah Kahn, a bank volunteers who packaged food at the event, said that helping is not just about financial donations, "it's about getting involved."