By Kisha Tapangan,

Eastern Bank is committed to being a prominent voice in and for our communities. As the 2018 midterm election is quickly approaching on November 6th, the issues being discussed have a direct impact on our colleagues, customers, and communities.

Because of this, we are proud to launch the Good Votes campaign to help educate, empower, and encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote.

Women Running for Congress: What Tools Are Needed to Win?

 

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Offers Community Empowerment

The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus Empowers Female Candidates 

Citizenship Day in Boston Provides Resources and Support

The Transgender Rights Movement and Why You Should Vote Yes on 3

Join Us For Good

By Kisha Tapangan,

Good serves, donates and advocates. Together, we can make a good change in our communities.

Community Advocate, Catherine D’Amato, Stands up for LGBTQ Rights

By Kisha Tapangan,

By Satta Sarmah Hightower | June 28, 2018 | 4 Minute Read

For more than 30 years, Catherine D’Amato has been an unwavering advocate within the LGBTQ community.

D’Amato’s advocacy work was forged from her own personal experiences. When she was in her late teens, D’Amato came out to her parents, but unfortunately, she wasn’t met with acceptance. However, that experience eventually put D’Amato on a path that has helped her make a difference in the lives of countless others in the Greater Boston Area.

“Life gives you certain kinds of opportunities. By coming out and having to leave my family, I had to go to work and I had to leave college and I had to do some things that I may not have planned,” she says. “So the combination of being on my own and suddenly out when I hadn’t planned on it, put a lot of these pieces together for me because if you’re oppressed in any way, shape, or form, you can identify that oppression perhaps in other communities.”

Over the years, D’Amato has seen rights advance for the LGBTQ community, but she admits there’s still a lot of work left to do to safeguard these rights. This is why, even decades later, D’Amato works tirelessly every day—remaining steadfast in her mission to ensure that equality isn’t just some elusive ideal, but a living, breathing reality for all Americans.

Making a Difference in Boston

D’Amato’s work with the LGBTQ community began in San Francisco in the 1970s. During that time, the environment was more hostile to people who were openly gay. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California’s history, was assassinated. People were killed and beaten, and hate crimes didn’t exist as a legislative agenda in the same way they do today, according to D’Amato.

“Things have changed, but oppression is oppression and there might be varying degrees of it,” she says. “Wanting to make sure that our community is safe and free to be who they are is a very important piece.”

In San Francisco, D’Amato was the founding incorporator of the world’s first LGBTQ foundation—the Horizon’s Foundation. When she moved to Massachusetts, she continued her work helping to advance LGBTQ causes.

D’Amato became involved with the Human Rights Campaign in Boston, serving on the New England regional board and the national Board of Governors. Today, along with her work in the LGBTQ community, D’Amato has led the Greater Boston Food Bank—one of the top food banks in the United States—since 1995. Just last year, the Greater Boston Food Bank distributed 60.7 million pound of food to those in need. D’Amato is currently one of the longest tenured food bank CEOs in the nation. She also serves as the co-founder and co-chair of the Equality Fund at the Boston Foundation.

The Equality Fund, which currently has nearly $8 million in commitments, will be used to address issues and causes that directly impact members of the LGBTQ community.

“It’s just a very good thing for our community, because in 20 years who knows what the needs will be, but the good news is there’ll be a fund there to help,” D’Amato says.

Leaving a Legacy

However, it’s clear that the LGBTQ community still has several needs and challenges today. Recent research on Massachusetts’ LGBTQ community indicates how much progress the state—and country as a whole—still needs to make to ensure the safety and acceptance of this community.

The study found that although more young Massachusetts residents identify as LGBTQ now than in previous years, they still face higher rates of depression, suicide, and discrimination. LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as non-LGBTQ youth to say that they’ve experienced symptoms of depression, while 50 percent also say they’ve considered suicide. Though Massachusetts was the first state in the country to pass marriage equality and the state provides many resources, support services, and has advanced public policy issues related to LGBTQ causes, D’Amato says there’s still room to grow. There’s a need for the community to remain vigilant on issues like safety, bullying, employment, and achieving equal rights in other areas—especially in light of the current political climate.

She adds that it’s vital for members of the LGBTQ community to work collaboratively and to fight together to make progress. “The important part for me, whether it’s pride month or not, is that we are stronger when we stand together as a community,” she says.

But D’Amato also says that its critical for the community to have allies. As D’Amato’s own experience has taught her, change can happen—it just takes time.

“For the folks that are on the other side of acceptance and inclusion, the advice I would give is to listen, learn, and then hopefully love, because these are human beings,” she says of the LGBTQ community. “My own experience, from being completely rejected from my family to not seeing them for multiple years or engaging with them to having your mother say, ‘Well, you’re my child and I love you and I want you to be happy.’ That’s huge for any person, whatever their story is. So the important part is to not be judgmental and to be educated and to understand.”

And that understanding will eventually lead to more acceptance and equality in our society, D’Amato hopes. It’ll just require a collective, unwavering effort—even in the face of ongoing challenges.

“I don’t think as a young, gay person in the 1970s in San Francisco that I could have seen some of the achievements that have occurred, both in our community and in the rights and privileges of being an American, so that is awesome,” she says. “Now, protecting those rights is where we are now—not losing ground, but maintaining the ground that has been gained. And when that is threatened, we’re all threatened. So the collective work is probably one of the most important things that people can continue to do. We’re stronger together than we are alone and that’s true for our own community. We must stand with each other.”

Read stories about other community leaders’ commitment to doing good and become a part of Eastern Bank’s Join Us for Good campaign.

Community Development Lending Helps Low-Income Neighborhoods Thrive

By Kisha Tapangan,

By Michael Givens | July 10, 2018 | 3 Minute Read

On Thursday, June 21, the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) announced that Eastern Bank will award $300,000 to a Massachusetts tax credit program to help continue a philanthropic partnership to help low-income communities across the Bay State. The announcement was made at the Mel King Institute 9th Annual Breakfast in partnership with Eastern’s Community Development Lending (CDL).

Eastern Bank staff at the Mel King Institute for Community Building Celebration. Photo by Tatiana Blanco Photography.

“The CDL group of Eastern Bank is driven by our commitment in doing good things in our communities,” said Yongmei Chen, Senior Vice President at Eastern Bank. “From affordable housing developments, [and] solar financing to economic revitalization projects, the CDL loan portfolio is one of the fastest growing business lines of the bank. We strive to be doing well by doing good.”

Implemented in 2014, the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program allows charitable organizations such as Eastern Bank to make donations to a shared pool of funds which are then distributed to community development corporations (CDCs) that provide a range of programs and services aimed toward supporting communities across the state. This is the third year in a row that Eastern Bank has participated in the program.

According to Joe Kriesberg, president of the MACDC, a membership organization of CDCs across the Commonwealth, the funds are used by the individual CDCs on such neighborhood projects as community organizing, the arts, youth and elder programs, job training, affordable housing production, and small business assistance. The true value of the CITC program is that community support and engagement drive whether the project will receive funding. The Eastern Bank Community Development Lending Program’s donation to the fund means that more CDCs have the resources they need to provide quality programming to Bay State communities—from Somerville and Worcester to Springfield.

“Eastern Bank stepped up with a significant level of support, not for one organization, but many across the eastern region of the Commonwealth,” said Kriesberg. “This was increased…new funding for CDCs that needed this support from a recognized and trusted organization, Eastern Bank, when CDCs were developing new fundraising networks through the CITC program.”

According to the MACDC, CDCs supported by the CITC program created or preserved more than 1,800 units of affordable housing in 2015 and 2016 and assisted more than 130,000 families. The 2018 Growing Opportunities, Assets, and Leaders (GOALs) annual report produced by MACDC also provides some exciting data about the impact of organization’s supported by Eastern Bank.

The report states that more than 5,000 job opportunities were created or preserved through the work of CDCs. Nearly 860 small business owners were provided assistance as well — clear indicators of the impact of well-resourced community programs.

Kay Mathew, the resource development manager for Madison Park Development Corporation (MPDC) in Roxbury’s Dudley Square, said the donations given by Eastern Bank through the CITC program go a long way in making an important impact on low-income communities.

MPDC received a $15,000 CITC donation from Eastern Bank in 2016 and another in 2017, which helped to increase the reach of an array of MPDC community building programs that support residents in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. For example, Eastern Bank’s CITC funding supports year-round workforce development and community leadership programs for up to 90 youth in Roxbury including a highly successful summer youth jobs program. It also supports MPDC’s civic engagement program, which provides year-round voter education and get out the vote activities. Eastern’s CDL funding helps MPDC augment its healthy food programs, which teach residents how to access healthy food and prepare nutritious meals. Donations also support two community gardens at affordable housing developments and regularly-scheduled physical activity events such as yoga classes and walking groups.

“It’s through the resources provided by Eastern Bank that we are able to make our programs work so well,” Mathew said.

Kai Grant Brings Community Empowerment to Local Vendors in Dudley Square

By Kisha Tapangan,

By Miriam Schwartz | July 2, 2018 | 3 Minute Read

The Black Market pop-up shop in Boston’s Dudley Square neighborhood stood proud and defiant on the eve of its season grand opening. Black Market, now in its second year, was born out of a desire to give entrepreneurs a space to build their dreams, and in turn became the fulfillment of a dream for its founders, too.

But just 72 hours before the grand opening, owners Kai and Christopher Grant found a hateful message spray-painted on the building’s wall.

“White Lives Matter,” the graffiti stated, but this didn’t come as a surprise to Kai Grant. Far from deterring her and her vision for Black Market, she was more determined than ever. “We knew it was coming. We knew it was just a matter of time,” she wrote in a Facebook post adding, “WE WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.”

The Black Market pop-up shop was conceived with a mission of eliminating the wealth gap between black and white households in the Boston area and celebrating black culture. The Black Market even paved the way for others who took inspiration from its success—several storefronts have popped up around Boston.

According to a report that was shared in a recent Boston Globe article, the median net worth for non-immigrant African-American households in the Greater Boston Area is $8, while the household median for whites is $247,500. This disparity is especially relevant in the Dudley Square neighborhood, home to Black Market and a vibrant black community.

The graffiti’s inflammatory message also showed a misunderstanding and ignorance about Black Market’s mission. “We wanted to create an opportunity for black-owned businesses and make a dent in the wealth gap experienced by Boston’s indigenous black community,” said Kai, “we are one of the most diverse markets in New England. We represent more than 25 nations, all ages, religions, [and] languages.”

Despite those events, the Grants had a “by local for local” marketplace in Roxbury to open, and vendors to welcome. Local vendors have flocked to Black Market because of the unique opportunity that it presents—a space to show their creations, build a customer base, and show a record of cash flow—all of which are instrumental for entrepreneurs looking to take the next step in business.

“I’m here because I love my community. I’m fourth generation Roxbury,” said Kai between answering last-minute questions, waving to people passing by on Washington Street, and beaming with excitement about the upcoming opening.

“There is so much potential here, but it never gets moving; it’s not translating to the community,” adds Christopher Grant. Together, the Grants put their money (they funded the Black Market pop-up shop with their retirement savings) directly into building up and supporting the Dudley Square community.

At their core, Kai and Christopher are problem solvers, and they’ve put their years of experience—Christopher as a 25-year foreman for the MBTA and Kai as an entrepreneur in her own right—in service of the community they live in. “We are creating solutions to these things. We’re told to pull ourselves by our bootstraps. This is a bootstrap business—we’re pulling ourselves up, and our community,” said Kai. The graffiti, followed by an effort on social media to take down Black Market’s Facebook page, wasn’t just an attack on Black Market and its vendors. “It was an attack on our community,” adds Kai.

But on a sunny Sunday in late April, the attack became a thing of the past. The Black Market was open, and the Grants, the talented vendors personally curated by Kai, and hundreds of shoppers filled the space to capacity. As Prince played in the background, shoppers browsed handmade beauty products, clothing, jewelry, and home furnishings—all lovingly made by the people selling them. There, an opportunity to support hyper-local businesses and put money directly into the community’s hands was met with enthusiasm. Even Mayor Marty Walsh stopped by to show support. Outside, there was no trace of hateful words. Inside, only love.

The Grants stressed the need for cooperatives in the black community but also that Black Market is a space for all, that welcomes all. “We’re at an interesting time, we’ve seen a lot of divisive narratives created, but we are united. Everyone that comes into this space is welcome,” said Kai.

Surrounded by the vendors of Black Market and all repeat attendees from last year, Kai was resolute. “We believe in our mission and we’re not going to stop. It’s too important right now.”

Follow Black Market on Facebook for updates on events, pop-up shop dates, and to support the Dudley Square community.

Join In! PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th

By Kisha Tapangan,

By Nicholas Conley| June 27, 2018 | 2 Minute Read

When veterans come back from war, they often bring painful experiences back home with them. While everyone recognizes the courage of a hero putting their life on the line for others, these same veterans often face even harsher challenges back at home, trying to adjust to life as a civilian. One common struggle for many military personnel is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition which has impacted almost 1 out of 5 recent U.S. veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)—it hits a shocking 71 percent of female officers in particular. That’s why in 2010, Congress declared PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th.

Though the official diagnosis of PTSD wasn’t recognized by the American Psychiatric Association until the 1980s, symptoms of this all-too-real condition were probably noted as far back as 2100 B.C., according to History. Despite this, veterans who are open about their experiences with PTSD have often been mocked, feared, or treated as outcasts. This stigmatization also impacts non-veteran PTSD patients, such as survivors of abuse, imprisonment, and sexual violence. The lack of comprehensive support for PTSD survivors has made many people afraid to speak out, recognize their own condition, or receive the help they need.

In Boston and the surrounding New England area, there are many ways for PTSD survivors to get assistance; there are also programs for friends, family, and others to lend their support. In honor of PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th, here are some ways to help.

Donate
In the United States, an average of 22 veterans commits suicide every day, often due to PTSD or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Meanwhile, the streets of Massachusetts are flooded with over 50,000 stray dogs looking for both a purpose and a home. Operation Delta Dog is a Massachusetts organization aimed at solving both problems, by pairing veterans with homeless dogs that are adopted, trained, and certified. To keep their program running, Operation Delta Dog depends on individual donations. Give here.

Advocate
Suicide is a high risk for those living with PTSD, and the Military Veteran Project is a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to preventing veteran suicide through new research and treatment solutions. To accomplish this, they have spearheaded creative fundraisers such as the #SaveAWarriorChallenge and the Float it Forward campaign. Join the Military Veteran Project as a proud supporter.

Serve
When a person with PTSD is in the midst of a personal crisis, sometimes they need to talk to someone who isn’t a friend or family member. That’s why the Veterans Crisis Line exists at 1-800-273-8255. It’s a free service that connects veterans in need to a real human responder through phone, chat, or text. If you have the necessary experience, compassion, and/or training to talk to someone when they need help, volunteer to become a responder today.

The PTSD Foundation of America not only wants to help those currently living with PTSD, but to also expand awareness among the general population. They offer many volunteer opportunities through their website. Get involved today.

Educate
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a huge supply of resources and information about the causes, treatment, and history of PTSD. The VA also offers a numerous range of services to veterans with PTSD at about 300 community-based Vet Center locations. Learn more about all of the different services.

For those who learn better in a classroom setting, the Manchester Vet Center in Hooksett, New Hampshire, offers an annual crash course on both PTSD and TBIs, featuring a panel of veterans and health professionals discussing their experiences with the group. This year’s crash courses will take place on September 21st and 28th. RSVP your spot on their Facebook page.

PTSD Awareness Day is about recognizing both the veterans and civilians living with this trauma. Here’s how you can help.

Honoring 200 Years of Service within the Community

By Kisha Tapangan,

By Michael Givens| June 25, 2018 | 3 Minute Read

On Tuesday, June 12th, more than 1,600 people gathered for Eastern Bank’s 200th anniversary at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) to celebrate and commemorate their ground-breaking work supporting and empowering local communities.

“I think we’re going to continue to grow and expand and further deliver on our community mission,” said Eastern Bank CEO Bob Rivers of the organization’s legacy and his hopes for the future. “It’s manifested by our commitment to 10 percent of our net income every year to charity. The Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation has over $100 million today…It’s really just delivering more of that impact to more and more people over time, here in New England and beyond.”

Rivers was joined by the Eastern Bank Partners For Good, award-winning former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, and three-time World Series champion and former designated hitter David “Big Papi” Ortiz. The celebration, however, didn’t end with commemorating Eastern Bank’s 200th anniversary. The bank also welcomed a new Partner For Good—two-time gymnastic Olympian and Needham, Massachusetts, native Aly Raisman.

Eastern Bank 200th Anniversary Event in Boston on Tuesday June 12, 2018. (Photo By: Greg M. Cooper / Eastern Bank)

“I’ve always been a fan of Eastern Bank just because of how passionate they are about doing good and I think with the way that the world is today, we need a lot more brands like Eastern Bank. I’m very, very proud to be working with them,” said Raisman. “They are incredibly supportive of what I’m doing right now with Darkness to Light, which is trying to end child sexual abuse. I’m very grateful for their help and I’m very excited to work together.”

Flutie, who founded The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, echoed Raisman’s sentiments about Eastern Bank.

“It’s been a great partnership for 14 years,” he said. “Eastern Bank is involved in the community and it’s great to be affiliated with someone who is giving back…it’s just a matter of doing something nice for somebody and putting them in the best position to prosper. That’s what Eastern Bank is all about.”

“Partners For Good is something totally different—this thing is unbelievable,” Ortiz exclaimed to the crowd at one point during the festivities at the jam-packed venue. Ortiz is the founder of the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which seeks to provide vital pediatric care to children across New England and his home country of the Dominican Republic.

The evening was filled with a well-earned sense of accomplishment as attendees reflected on the impact of Eastern Bank and its consistent service to New England’s communities.

Having just celebrated his 23rd anniversary with the bank, David Guilmette, a retail administration specialist, summed up his thoughts on the institution’s legacy with the word “inclusiveness” and discussed a particularly good act that Eastern Bank performed that really resonated with him.

“Standing up for the LGBTQ community and the transgender community—it’s amazing what they’ve done,” he said. “Our executive vice president of human resources has gone to the State House in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire to speak on transgender rights.”

Guilmette said the philosophy of acceptance isn’t just a community practice, it extends to the staff as well. “They make everybody feel welcome. Everybody is included in Eastern Bank.”

When asked what separates Eastern Bank’s 200-year legacy from other well-known banks in New England, Guilmette didn’t hesitate with his response. “At Eastern Bank, the employees know who you are when you come in. We know our customers. They call us, they come into the branch, we know who they are and it’s just a homey feeling when you come in.”

While Guilmette has been on a near-quarter of a century journey with Eastern Bank, Deborah Williams has just started hers. A vendor loan compliance specialist with the bank for just three months, Williams couldn’t contain how excited she is to be working with the institution.

“I really am amazed at all they do for the community and all they do for the employees,” she said.

Noting that she’s worked with other large banks, she contended that those other banks, “don’t do half of what Eastern Bank does for its employees.” When she started working at the bank, she was impressed with how devoted the bank is to service and says she’s committed to the institution and its mission.

Learn more about Eastern Bank’s mission to Join Us For Good.

Sarah-Ann Shaw and Klare Shaw: A Lifelong Dedication to Community Activism

By Kisha Tapangan,

By Satta Sarmah Hightower | June 20, 2018 | 3 Minute Read

Social activism and community advocacy are in the Shaw family’s DNA.

Sarah-Ann Shaw, who grew up in Roxbury, Boston, had a politically-active father who was a part of the Democratic Club of Roxbury. Following in his footsteps, she joined the NAACP Youth Council and became a Girl Scout. Her civic involvement as a young person eventually carried over to her work as a journalist and as the first black woman to be televised in Boston.

“I thought it was necessary to talk about social issues because they really weren’t being covered. When I went to work at Channel 4 in the late 60s, coverage of the African-American community was basically negative coverage,” says Sarah-Ann. “I knew there were other kinds of programs and things happening in the community, and so I thought it was important to try to let other people know about the other things that were going on in Roxbury.”

And just as her father laid the groundwork for her activism, so did Sarah-Ann for her daughter, Klare Shaw. Together, they have championed several causes focused on fostering more equity and justice in the city, especially for minorities.

Their work will be honored when they receive Eastern Bank’s 2018 Community Advocacy Award this month. Though the mother-daughter duo is grateful for the recognition, they both say that the country still has work to do in order to build a more inclusive and fair society.

“It’s like a pendulum,” she says. “At some point, it swings and you think things will really change, but then it kind of swings back the other way. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying to make change happen.”

From her participation in the NAACP Youth Council, her community involvement grew over time.

She worked at St. Mark’s Social Center, was a member of the Boston Action Group, and coordinated voter and housing education efforts as part of a civil rights group called the Northern Student Movement. In her professional career, Sarah-Ann also worked on anti-poverty and community health education programs.

After regular appearances on a local public affairs show as part of her advocacy work, WBZ-TV hired her in 1969—making her the city’s first black female reporter. She stayed with the station for more than 30 years, covering many stories that provided more breadth and depth about life in Boston’s black communities.

Sarah-Ann’s work in front of and behind the camera naturally encouraged her daughter, Klare, to get involved, too.

“There were a lot of protesting, boycotts, and things that I grew up [doing]—either handing out fliers for or carrying pickets for—so I had an understanding about the structural challenges in this country and how they had to be addressed at a very young age,” says Klare.

Today, Sarah-Ann and Klare are involved in several community activities. Klare has spent her career working with foundations, for the state of Massachusetts, and for Boston public schools—bringing a lens to her work that allowed for maximum inclusion and outreach to communities and trying to facilitate the work of other community advocates. Sarah-Ann is on several boards including the League of Women for Community Service, and Klare is on the board of the Urban Farming Institute. She and her mother are also members of the Democratic State Committee.

Both say they are encouraged by the work of young community advocates and professional organizations that have pushed for more inclusion and representation in the city, but issues of equity still remain in Boston—especially when it comes to fair housing, education, and employment.

“Some of the more subtle aspects of racism or exclusion in the city have now morphed into areas that have more to do with access,” says Klare. “The desegregation that was in place around the city in the 60s has now morphed into a struggle for black people and other people of color to be included in some of the more lucrative economic advancements in the city and some of the areas where significant power is wielded.”

Sarah-Ann and Klare say that they hope their example and life’s work encourages more people to get involved and makes them feel that they, too, can make a change in the city and help it become more equitable for everyone.

“People ask me what’d I’d like to see happen,” says Sarah-Ann. “I would like to see a more level playing field. Whether that’s people sitting on boards, people getting jobs, people getting a proper education, people getting a house—a roof over their heads. I think working towards a level playing field is very, very important.”

Learn more about how Sarah-Ann Shaw and Klare Shaw were chosen as Eastern Bank’s 2018 Community Advocacy Award honorees.

Eastern Bank Celebrates 200 Years of Service in New England

By Kisha Tapangan,

By Nicholas Conley | June 12, 2018 | 2 Minute Read

A bank that donates 10 percent of its profits to charity, volunteers over 50,000 hours, and actively fights for women, gateway cities, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community? While Eastern’s Join Us For Good initiative has only recently drawn headlines from the Boston Globe, the company’s mission is nothing new. This year marks Eastern Bank’s 200th anniversary along with a heritage of inclusiveness, community, and standing up for good causes.

This philosophy is so embedded into the fabric of Eastern Bank that on every employee’s first day, they are given a card that lists Eastern’s core values: “Integrity, Innovation, Diversity and Inclusion, Commitment, and Teamwork.” The other side describes Eastern’s vision: “We embrace our mutuality, culture and creative spirit to build lasting relationships with our customers, colleagues, and communities in pursuit of a better, fairer, more sustainable world.”

Even though Eastern Bank is the oldest mutual bank in the country, its history of serving underrepresented communities goes back to the very beginning. Back in 1818, the bank’s first customer was a woman named Rebecca Sutton, which at the time was so unheard-of that a male attorney had to make the deposit on her behalf. Looking back on Eastern Bank’s 200th anniversary, many such milestones can be found. Though the company hasn’t always been called “Eastern Bank”—that consolidated name arose from the 1981 merger of Salem Savings Bank and First East Bank—the company has never abandoned its local roots.

The 1980s marked a key time in Eastern Bank’s growth, and the bank continued its expansion efforts in 2002 when it merged with the Allied Insurance Agency, now Eastern Insurance Group. Today, Eastern Insurance has become one of the top 35 P&C insurance agencies in the country. And of those 35, it’s the only one led by a woman—Hope Aldrich, whom Eastern Bank CMO Paul Alexander credits for Eastern Insurance’s current success. “They’ve done a phenomenal job, and hopefully, we’ve given them a grand platform that gives them a little extra topspin.”

Looking back, it might have been the 2010 merger with Wainwright Bank where Eastern cemented its reputation as a social justice champion. At the time, Wainwright was known for its strong foothold in Boston’s LGBTQ community. When Eastern purchased the company, it didn’t run away from those associations.

“Eastern embraced it,” says Alexander. “What Wainwright brought was an increased focus on the LGBTQ community, and that’s become a very important pillar in terms of a community whose business is important to us, and [that has] also influenced an area of human justice that we totally support.”

Another significant chapter in Eastern Bank’s growth was the 2014 merger with Centrix Bank. “What Centrix brought was a strength in commercial lending in Southern New Hampshire,” says Alexander. “That’s why Eastern went after that merger—because Centrix had that strength, and they had a similar value system to Eastern in terms of giving back to the community.”

The running theme throughout all of these mergers has always been a focus on growth, while not sacrificing the values that make Eastern stand out. “The more we grow, the more we’re able to give back to the community,” says Alexander.

Every year, Eastern Bank focuses 20 percent of its charitable donations on a specific cause. In 2017, it was immigration. In 2018, that cause is advancing women. As this 200-year-old mutual bank continues into the future, it aims to continue supporting the causes that their customers value. “Our focus [is] on social responsibility and doing the right thing, that’s our point of differentiation,” says Alexander. “You can choose a bank for a lot of reasons. We hope people will choose us not just because we serve our customers in a terrific way, but also because we’re devoted to causes—to communities—that other banks aren’t.”

Learn more about Eastern Bank’s Join Us For Good initiative and their work in supporting community members.