Raising funds to help fight hunger.

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Did you know that more than 10% of households experience food insecurity?

At bankHometown, our annual Neighbors Helping Neighbors fundraising drive is all about trying to make a difference by raising money for local food pantries that help our neighbors in need gain access to healthy food.

Each fall, we invite bank customers, employees, and members of the community to donate money throughout the month of November. All donations (up to $2,500 per donor) are matched dollar for dollar by bankHometown and the total divided among participating food pantries across Central Massachusetts and northeast Connecticut in communities we serve.

In the 18 years since we started the drive, we’ve raised more than $330,000! This year, we hope to add to that total and make an even bigger impact!

bankHometown President and CEO Robert J. Morton says he’s proud of this annual giving tradition. “Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a great example of how we can enhance everyone’s quality of life if we work to solve our biggest problems—together.”


Giving back to veterans who gave so much.

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“Those who serve our country are owed a huge debt of gratitude for their contributions,” says bankHometown President and CEO Robert J. Morton. “So, we want to give back to them and thank them for their service.”

It’s with those goals of support and appreciation in mind that bankHometown held a nearly month-long clothing drive in its Massachusetts offices and a food drive in its Connecticut offices between Memorial Day and Independence Day to benefit two outstanding local veterans’ organizations: Veterans Inc. and Veterans Base Camp.

Veterans Inc. in Worcester is the largest provider of support services to veterans and their families in New England. Since 1990, they’ve helped more than 90,000 veterans in need live healthy and fulfilling civilian lives. Their Stand Down initiative is a daylong, annual event featuring more than 60 service providers ready to accommodate veterans’ needs.

Veterans Base Camp in Chaplin, Conn., is a nonprofit organization that offers veterans the support they need when find themselves homeless, jobless, food insecure, lonely, or feeling hopeless or without purpose after they return home from deployment. Among the services they provide are transitional housing, a food pantry, parenting support, a “buddies” outreach program, and more.

Not only did the bank collect food and clothing for both organizations, but our employees proudly volunteered to distribute the donations at veterans’ events in the local communities, too.

“We sincerely appreciate all those who visited our offices and donated selflessly to both drives,” said Rob. “We look forward to making this an annual event in support of our veterans.”


Creating a safe environment for youth sports.

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Young Starz Futsal Club Founder Kwadwo “Coach K” Frempong had a vision: Turn a couple of dilapidated tennis courts on Ray St. in Webster into a state-of-the-art futsal complex to benefit the area’s kids. He secured a generous 20-year lease on the property for just $1 from the Town of Webster—but his vision would become reality only if he could raise the $70,000 needed to convert the courts.

What’s futsal? It’s a fast-paced game similar to soccer, but played on a smaller, hard court with just five players per side. Futsal helps players develop their soccer skills by providing a higher intensity game with more touches on the ball, requiring quicker decision-making, sharper techniques for ball control, and improved attacking and defensive abilities.

As part of Young Starz’s fundraising effort, bankHometown, with its two locations in Webster, donated $15,000 and became the project’s lead corporate sponsor—and one of its biggest cheerleaders—securing the naming rights to the complex. In addition to the donation, bankHometown President and CEO Robert J. Morton and local accountant and bank director Sam S. Pappas, CPA, worked closely with Coach K to help frame the project’s scope, raise funds from area companies, and provide advice and guidance on the project.

Not only did Young Starz raise enough money to cover the renovation, they were able to set aside $2,500 to provide scholarships to players from low-income families unable to afford the cost of participating.

Coach K credits the generosity of corporate donations for fulfilling the organization’s vision. “We’re grateful to our sponsors for making this complex a reality and can’t wait to help kids develop their technical skills and agility, but most of all, to instill a love of team play with positive, structured coaching and in a safe and modern environment,” he said.

Rob points to the futsal complex as a shining example of what happens when members of the community, representatives from youth sports organizations, municipal leaders, and local businesses come together for a common goal.

“Youth sports is one of the best ways for kids to develop a love for skill-building, team play, and physical fitness, and unlock their potential as a well-rounded individual. bankHometown was excited to help turn Young Starz’s and Coach K’s vision into reality by providing the funds necessary to get the project started,” Rob said. “We’re thrilled to know that kids are getting a safe and fun environment at the ‘bankHometown Futsal Complex’ to hone their skills.”


Helping young entrepreneurs succeed.

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All entrepreneurs have one thing in common: the dream of starting their own business. Unfortunately, many don’t have the business training or support to make that dream a successful reality.

Enter “Entrepreneurship for All” or “EforAll,” a nonprofit organization focused on accelerating the positive economic and social impact of inclusive entrepreneurship on our communities. EforAll’s Business Accelerator program offers free, high-touch programs geared toward helping aspiring entrepreneurs launch their businesses, including training, mentorship, and access to a professional network. In fact, EforAll chapters have launched more than 1,100 new businesses nationwide over the last decade, engaging hundreds of business leaders as mentors. Nearly 85% of those businesses are women-owned and nearly 70% are BIPOC-owned.

bankHometown President and CEO Robert J. Morton has been volunteering with the Greater Worcester chapter since Fall 2022, teaming up with Securonix Regional Director Fred Bement to mentor Noel Stemn and Isaiah Tatum, two Worcester natives with a vision for bringing healthy and delicious juices and smoothies to downtown Worcester.

Stemn and Tatum met as middle school students at Nativity School in Worcester, and dreamed of opening their own business, but didn’t know what kind. That is, until Isaiah visited Atlanta and saw the ubiquity of juice and smoothie bars in that city. Recognizing that Worcester lacked healthy, delicious options in the downtown area, Stemn and Tatum started experimenting with flavor combinations in Tatum’s basement with the aim of developing recipes that were fresh, delicious, and a healthy alternative to fast food-style drinks.

“Our juices were not only great-tasting, they made you feel like you were doing something right for your health and your body,” says Tatum. “It was a concept we thought Worcester needed.”

After successfully selling their blends at pop-up stores and local events, the pair began working on a business plan and on finding a permanent location. Shortly thereafter, they were accepted into EforAll’s Business Accelerator program and met Rob, who along with Fred met with them for 90 minutes every Saturday morning. Rob provided not only his own advice and guidance, in particular about assessing costs and profitability, but introduced them to a broader network of professionals who could help them focus their efforts and satisfy the needs of their young business.

In April 2023, Woo Juice opened its first brick-and-mortar location at 22 Front Street in Worcester’s revitalized Midtown Mall. The following October, they opened a second location at Worcester Public Market at 160 Green St. Woo Juice features more than 15 concoctions ranging from $5 to $12, including an array of freshly pressed juices with a high number of energizing antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients; tasty smoothies rich in fiber; and immunity-boosting wellness shots with a powerful kick of flavor. Drink names are both inspired by locations around Worcester, such as the Green Hill Glow (spinach, celery, apple, cucumber, and ginger), Kelley Splash (cucumber, pineapple, and ginger), Water St. Cure (carrot, beet, lemon, and apple), and Crompton Kool-Aid (mango, strawberry, passionfruit, almond milk or coconut water). Every drink is made in-store from fresh fruits and vegetables with no additives.

“We think people will love our commitment to using only fresh ingredients,” says Stemn. “So, we’re excited to launch our own stores and bring healthy options that people can feel good about to our hometown.”

For Rob, helping support young business owners and giving his time and talents has been mutually rewarding, especially in the city he’s worked in and around for the past 36 years.

“EforAll demonstrates how supporting aspiring entrepreneurs can lift up not only the business owners and their families, but an entire community,” Rob said. “I was happy to help Isaiah and Noel channel their commitment and perseverance and help them unlock their potential to turn Woo Juice from an idea to reality.”


Helping the hungry access healthy food.

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Who says bankers can’t also be farmers?

This summer, members of our Retail Banking, Commercial Lending, Credit, and Commercial Loan Administration teams spent several mornings volunteering at the Community Harvest Project (CHP) in Grafton, helping to grow, tend, and harvest fruits and vegetables for our neighbors experiencing hunger.

Recognizing that those who experience hunger are also more likely to have limited access to healthy foods—which leads to poor health effects like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease—CHP is a nonprofit farm that engages and educates volunteers to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for hunger relief. With locations in Grafton and Harvard, CHP welcomes more than 7,500 volunteers annually to work on the farm and move hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh produce from the fields to distribution agencies like food banks and pantries and ultimately onto the plates of people all across Worcester, Middlesex, and Suffolk counties.

All told, bankHometown employees spent nearly 125 volunteer hours on the farm. On one morning alone, they harvested more than 3,400 lbs. of several varieties of squash, which CHP Manager of Volunteer Programs Wayne McAuliffe said would equal about 12,000 servings!

“There’s something about being present on the farm, harvesting food with your own hands, and seeing the results of your labor, knowing it will make a real difference for so many of our friends and neighbors who are experiencing food insecurity,” said bankHometown President and CEO Robert J. Morton. “We all agreed that it was a highly rewarding and meaningful experience and one that we’re eager to take part in again.”


Supporting those who support local business.

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Local businesses have always been the backbone of our local economy. And few organizations have supported the local business community—especially during the recent COVID-19 pandemic—as fervently and consistently as the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

And so, while bankHometown has always been a member and ardent supporter of the Worcester Regional Chamber, it was the chamber’s outreach and support of local business owners during the economic downturn in 2020 that prompted the bank to announce a $25,000 challenge grant to help sustain the chamber’s programs and services.

As bankHometown President and CEO Robert J. Morton noted, while local businesses were particularly hit hard by the sustained economic shutdown brought on by the pandemic, the chamber continued to support the local business community through difficult times—even while experiencing its own.

“The Chamber underwent its own loss of funding from the cancellation of events and revenue-generating programs, slowed membership growth, and other challenges,” said Rob.

“Regardless, the chamber never lost sight of its mission and never stopped delivering services to support local businesses in a time of crisis. That’s remarkable.”

“We are forever grateful to bankHometown for recognizing the work the chamber did to support local businesses, especially during the pandemic,” said Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Timothy P. Murray. “We appreciate this generous donation to help us continue to provide those services to the business community.”

In addition to the grant, bankHometown continues to support the Chamber year in and year out, through sponsorship of specific programs and events and as presenting sponsor of its Chamber Exchange: The TV Show.


Sharing the warmth with those in need.

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For nearly two decades, we’ve been sharing the warmth with those in the community who need it most.

Our Fuel Assistance Fund is a program that Millbury Savings Bank started back in 2005 and that bankHometown proudly continued when the banks merged in 2019.

Over the years, the fund has provided more than $430,000 in home heating assistance to our neighbors in Millbury and Sutton, helping more than 50 low-income individuals and families per year with the high cost of heating their homes.

The program provides $350 for oil, natural gas, or electric directly to the energy supplier, and supplements other fuel assistance programs for which applicants may qualify—making an enormous difference in the lives of those who rely on help for this basic necessity. Representatives of the Senior Centers of both towns help to administer the program.

“I’m so proud that our fuel fund has been helping families heat their homes for nearly 20 years, because we know what an enormous difference it can make when funds are stretched thin through a cold New England winter,” says bankHometown President and CEO Robert J. Morton. “We thank the Sutton and Millbury Senior Centers for partnering with us to reach those most vulnerable and look forward to potentially expanding the program to additional cities and towns in the coming years.”


Funding the future of learning.

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Anyone who’s visited a modern library knows they’re much more than rows of shelves filled with dusty old books.

In many communities, like Webster, they’re important gateways for children and teens to access technology, homework help, STEM-related activities, educational programs and events, and much, much more.

So, when Webster’s Public Library was demolished in 2016 to make way for a brand new, modernized Gladys E. Kelly Public Library, bankHometown and the Hometown Bank Charitable Foundation stepped up in a big way, making a multi-year commitment totaling $250,000 toward the $2.5 million project.

According to bankHometown’s chairman at the time, Sam S. Pappas, there was never a question that the bank and foundation were eager to help make this valuable new facility a reality. “We knew it would turn out to be a wonderful and meaningful center of learning that would support the greater Webster area for many years, and it certainly has proven to be just that,” he said.

Some of the modern amenities the library offers since reopening in 2018 are a 100-seat community meeting room, smaller study/meeting rooms, a young adult room, technology capabilities including Wi-Fi, eReaders and laptops, a local history room, and a whole host of events, programs, and activities benefitting children, teens, and adults.