Published in the March 10, 2017 edition.
By GAIL LOWE
WAKEFIELD — It was a proud moment for Wakefield Co-operative Bank.
On Tuesday afternoon, March 7, State Commissioner of Banks Terence A. McGinnis visited the bank along with other dignitaries, local officials, bank employees, members of the board of directors and friends to offer congratulations as it celebrated its 130th anniversary.
During his remarks, McGinnis said it was remarkable for a bank to survive and thrive independently for that length of time.
“The bank is growing successfully and is more vibrant than ever,” said Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Wolnik. “Everyone in attendance (today) is a friend and advocate of the bank. I’ll be presumptuous and suggest that you each believe deeply, as I do, in personal service, reliability, trust, local decision-making and the welcoming open door policy.”
Wolnik said the bank views itself as an integral part of the community, one that both helps and supports local residents and businesses. “We support our local economy,” he commented, adding that the bank’s mission is to help people. We all play a different role, but we have that common mission,” he said.
As a symbol of the bank’s history and to promote continuity long into the future, Wolnik announced at the celebration the bank’s “First Time Home Buyer” initiative. He said that the bank serves all demographics, but will aim to serve the needs of younger home buyers for years to come.
About the bank’s employees, Wolnik said, “They tirelessly support our great community service every day in so many ways. It starts right here outside our front door and works its way in and around the downtown, across town and beyond.”
“This service helps to continue and build the bank’s legacy,” he said.
This legacy, in part, includes supporting various groups in the community. To demonstrate the bank’s commitment to this legacy, Wolnik presented Selectman Paul DiNocco, who serves as president of the town’s Main Street Initiative, and Nancy Bertrand of the Wakefield Historical Society, checks for $500 to benefit the activities of both organizations.
Wakefield Co-operative Bank also donates time and money to many other local charities while supporting community organizations such as the Wakefield Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce and the Wakefield Rotary Club.
In 2016 alone, the bank donated $30,000 to local organizations and volunteered many hours to local associations. The financial institution is also the sponsor of the Wakefield Public Schools’ annual “Parent University,” an event that is open to parents from all area communities, not just Wakefield, as well as the “Teaching Kids to Grow” program at both the Galvin Middle School and Woodville School. This program teaches students to plant and grow vegetables and herbs that are later donated to the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry.
In addition, Wakefield Co-operative Bank gives $1,000 scholarships every year to senior high school students from both Wakefield and Lynnfield who are involved in girls’ hockey, football and baseball. The bank is also a major sponsor of Wakefield’s 4th of July celebration and Job Shadow Day for high school students.
The birthday celebration continued on the bank’s second floor following congratulatory speeches by Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio, state Sen. Jason Lewis, state Rep. Donald H. Wong (R-Saugus/Wakefield) and state Rep. Paul Brodeur.
In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s celebration, the bank sponsored a scavenger hunt for residents.
Assistant Vice President Elaine Guaetta, who is the branch manager in Wakefield, said that hints for the scavenger hunt were posted on Facebook for participants to locate a “birthday box” at a business in either Wakefield or Lynnfield.
The finders of the boxes were instructed to visit the bank to receive a $50 certificate to the business where the box was found.
“This way, we are not only celebrating our 130th birthday but we’re also encouraging people to shop local and support local businesses,” said Guaetta.
On Wednesday, March 8 employees were at the scene of the bank’s first loan on Highland Street where giveaway treats were given to customers to thank them for their support.
And Thursday, March 9 was “pop the balloon” day. Residents were invited to stop by both branches in Wakefield and Lynnfield to pop a balloon to reveal a prize and to receive their “good morning clue” for the birthday box and gift certificate.
Boit made history in 1902
Wakefield Co-operative Bank was incorporated on January 31, 1887 and opened its doors for the first time on March 5, 1887 in the old Town Hall. In 1902, the bank made history by becoming the first bank in the United States to include a woman, Elizabeth Eaton Boit, on its board of directors.
Refreshments for Tuesday’s event were provided by Laurie’s 9:09 Catering Service.