Well, folks, it’s Wednesday morning again, time for more good people doing good things!
A bank with a heart – no joke!
Typically, if you pondered a business that was least likely to win an award for altruism, it might be the banking industry. Banks and bankers are not known for giving or being compassionate. There is at least one exception, though … Ulster Savings Bank (USB) in upstate New York’s Hudson Valley. Ulster started doing business in 1871 and this spring is celebrating its 170th anniversary! But to celebrate, they aren’t giving raises or huge bonuses to CEOs, they are giving back to the community!
The bank’s CEO and President Bill Calderara explained …
“As a mutual savings bank, we were created for the benefit of our customers and the community, we have no shareholders. That enables us to keep all profits local and reinvest into the community in a number of ways. Celebrating our 170th anniversary with just as many random acts of kindness is our way of spreading kindness and supporting our community following a challenging year.”
Since the effort began, the community outreach team at Ulster Savings has donated toys and puzzles to a local homeless shelter, as well as stuffed animals to an area child abuse prevention facility.
They’ve also picked up the tab for everything from garbage collection, haircuts, pizza, groceries, restaurant meals, flowers, and coffee—to the fees for New York State auto inspections at local garages—all to ease the worries of local citizens who’ve been financially impacted by COVID-19.
Beginning in March 2020, USB “proactively dispersed $64,500 to immediately support local efforts in providing much-needed food and other essential services during the COVID-19 crisis.”
But the community-centric bank had a well-earned reputation for its philanthropy long before the pandemic. Twenty years ago, in honor of the bank’s 150th anniversary, Ulster Savings created its in-house charitable foundation, the Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation, to “assist the community in the areas of education, housing, and health/human services.”
Last year in response to the pandemic, USB gave out close to $600,000 in grants. While the money is certainly a much-needed boost, Calderara says everyone who works for USB is committed to sharing time as well. “Our goal is that 100% of employees volunteer every year.” (That works out to roughly 10,000 man-hours of community service annually.)
This is the first bank I have ever heard of or run across that I can honestly say qualifies as ‘good people’.
A HUGE small act of kindness …
I don’t know this good person’s name, know him only as Ian from Southend Sea Front, but I know he is a good people with a heart of gold. Last month, Natalie Fernando was taking her 5-year-old autistic son Rudy (affectionately known as “Roo”) for a seaside walk when the little boy spiraled into a meltdown. Says Natalie …
“My son loves to walk, but he hates to turn around and walk back, we usually try to walk in a circuit to avoid this but on his favourite walk with the boats we have no choice but to turn back. This will often lead to a meltdown, one which I can normally handle but on the back of two weeks out of school today was too much for him and me.”
As people are wont to do, some walked past giving Natalie and Roo dirty looks, others simply tried to ignore the situation. And then along came Ian. He asked Natalie if she was okay, and as soon as she explained the problem, Ian walked over to Roo, lay down on the ground near him, and began talking to him.
Ian then walked Roo and his mum back to their car. What a small, but ever-so-kind gesture Ian performed that day. This, my friends, is what I mean when I say that we all have the opportunity to be a ‘good people’. You don’t have to be rich or famous, don’t have to have super powers … you just have to care.
And the winner is …
Ivan Fernandez Anaya showed his character on a racetrack in Navarra, Spain, and in the process he wound up showing the world what true sportsmanship looks like! Ivan is a long-distance runner from Spain who competes in cross country and marathon races.
Ivan was just about to finish a cross country race when he noticed Abel Mutai, a Kenyan athlete who’d been in the lead, began to slow down as he approached the finish line. Abel did not speak Spanish so he got confused by the signs and thought he had already won. Ivan saw what was happening in an instant and could have easily darted past his opponent to win the race himself. Instead, he slowed his own pace and pointed Abel towards the real finish line so he could win.
Everyone who witnessed the race was rightfully impressed with Ivan’s actions! He didn’t hesitate to do the right thing, proving that being a good sport is still one of the most important aspects of sports. Later, a journalist asked Ivan why he didn’t take the opportunity to win the race and he laid out his reason for doing the right thing …
“My dream is that someday we can have a kind of community life. But what would be the merit of my victory? What would be the honor of that medal? What would my Mom think of that?”