In a Nutshell: Centreville Bank has been operating in Rhode Island for 192 years and counting. The community bank has remained dedicated to the residents of the areas it serves in a variety of ways. The bank sponsors community events and activities and promotes volunteerism among its employees. And the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation provides grants to a wide range of nonprofits and community organizations across the state in support of education, economic stability, and organizational infrastructure. The bank remains dedicated to its community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as well. For its ongoing support for the residents and nonprofits of Rhode Island, we are recognizing Centreville Bank with our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
In 2019, Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island celebrated 50 years of its meal-delivery agency for senior citizens who choose to live in their home rather than in an assisted living facility. The organization delivers meals to 1,200 Rhode Islanders every weekday.
And for those times when inclement weather or other emergencies prevent delivery of meals, there is the Centreville Bank Emergency Meal Program. This program, funded by Centreville Bank, allows Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island to provide five shelf-stable meals to homebound seniors to ensure they will have food through these crisis situations.
This support is just one of many ways the Rhode Island-based financial institution takes its mission as a community bank to heart, and, well, gives back to the community in meaningful ways.
Centreville Bank’s roots run deep in Rhode Island.
“The bank has been around for 192 years,” said Paola Fernandez, Vice President of Community Development at Centreville Bank. “It really has a strong tradition and customer base that’s very local. It’s very much about relationships and connecting to the communities where we serve.”
And yes, you read that right — 192 years. Centreville Bank opened its doors in West Warwick in 1828, only 38 years after Rhode Island became a state.
The bank now maintains seven branches — with three more in the works — primarily in the southern part of the state. As a bank that is truly focused on making a positive impact in its communities, we are recognizing Centreville Bank with our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
We recently had an opportunity to speak with Fernandez to learn more about just how the long-running bank works to support its communities and how the bank is adjusting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Strong Support for Community-Based Organizations Making a Real Impact
The bank’s long tenure in Rhode Island speaks to the stability and community nature of the bank, Fernandez said.
“It’s still a mutual bank, so it’s not publicly traded,” she said. “It’s governed by a board of directors, so it’s local decision-making, it’s about the customers and building those relationships.”
This translates not only to providing loans and other banking services with an emphasis on personal service, but it also means making decisions that positively affect the communities where the Centreville Bank customers live.
“You can’t know what’s most important to your community unless you’re in your community,” according to the bank website. “You have to meet the people around you to know what they need. You need to make connections with your neighbors to ultimately call them friends — and care about how they’re doing.”
Fernandez said a large portion of Centreville Bank’s funding to support nonprofit organizations and community initiatives comes from the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation which was established in 2005.
“Centreville Bank and the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation are committed to strengthening Rhode Island through partnerships with nonprofit organizations, especially those taking on our state’s most pressing challenges,” according to the bank.
The foundation’s goal is to develop partnerships through investments that are focused on student success, helping families achieve financial security, and supporting nonprofit infrastructure.
One of the many ways in which the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation supports student success is through the Robert O. Pare College Scholarship. Pare served the bank for 55 years and eventually became president of the institution.
“Mr. Pare served the Bank admirably, in a manner which has been honorable, forthright, and beneficial to the Bank’s success,” according to the bank. “The Robert O. Pare Scholarship is presented to local high school students who are dedicated to making a difference through community service. Each year, two (2) recipients are awarded individually a $5,000 scholarship.”
Sponsorships, Volunteer Efforts, and Grants Deliver Positive Change in the Bank’s Regions
“What are the issues? What are the needs in the community and how are nonprofits progressing those issues?” Fernandez asked. “We work closely with them to provide funding. In any given year, the foundation invests around $1 million on various causes throughout the state of Rhode Island.”
This support also plays out in the form of bank sponsorships and employee volunteer efforts.
“We are purposeful about our support through sponsorship and donations to community-based organizations that align with our community priorities,” according to the bank. “The typical sponsorship awarded is between $250 – $2,500.”
Fernandez said these sponsorships are usually in support of community events and activities, including support for little league teams or the convening of chambers of commerce.
“We also encourage our employees to participate in volunteering and giving back to the community,” she said. “And we offer opportunities to volunteers to do all kinds of things from cleanups to food drives to reading in classrooms, helping out at food pantries, all different kinds of activities.”
As far as grants, the list of causes Centreville Bank supports is impressive.
Among the organizations receiving grants from the foundation are The Autism Project, Books are Wings, the Jonnycake Center of Westerly, and the North Kingstown Food Pantry.
The bank also highlights on its website the work it is doing with the YouthBuild Preparatory Academy which operates as a school and provides integrated academics, industry-standard construction skills, and leadership development.
“As a community bank, we remain committed to helping to strengthen the lives of Rhode Islanders. We embrace this responsibility by supporting organizations that are making a positive impact through innovative and collaborative programs,” said Hal Horvat, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board. “These recipients of our Charitable Foundation grants are making a difference where it is needed most.”
How Centreville Bank is Serving Its Customers During the Coronavirus Crisis
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play out around the world, businesses and families both are learning how to navigate these uncertain times. And just as it has been there for its customers for 192 years, Centreville Bank remains available for its customers now.
“As the current pandemic continues to disrupt daily life for us all, please be assured that Centreville Bank is open, and will remain open, to provide you access to your accounts and the service and support you need during these difficult times,” according to the bank website.
Of course, the bank is also committed to the safety of its employees and customers. The bank is encouraging customers to conduct transactions in its drive-up lanes or Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs). But in the event that a transaction must be conducted in person, the Centreville Bank lobbies remain open by appointment.
Fernandez said the bank continues to support the community-at-large in these treacherous times via the United Way of Rhode Island.
“When the pandemic happened in March they established an emergency response fund and we immediately contributed to that fund,” she said. “And we are definitely monitoring and trying to be responsive to what the needs will be in the community.”
She said the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation is also prepared to focus its grants on helping the community deal with and recover from the crisis.
“We want to be able to mitigate this as much as possible and figure out how we can help,” Fernandez said.
After Almost 200 Years in Rhode Island, the Bank is Expanding into Connecticut
Fernandez said that, while Centreville Bank has been anchored in Rhode Island for nearly 200 years, it is expanding to Connecticut in the near future through a merger, which will also see two additional branches and a loan office in Rhode Island.
“We’re merging with Putnam Bank in Connecticut,” she said. “Putnam Bank is very similar to what Centreville Bank was a few years ago as a small community bank.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the completion of the merger but Fernandez said the bank expects it to be finalized very soon.
Nothing will change for current Centreville Bank customers, however. The bank will maintain its current name, high level of customer service, and commitment to its communities.