NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Savings Bank Foundation announced last week it would give $53,000 in grants to area nonprofit organizations as chosen by the bank’s customers.
The bank’s customers voted from January through March for their favorite nonprofits, which won Community Awards Grants proportional to the number of votes received. More than 1,800 bank customers voted.
The maximum award of $5,000 was given to the Middlebury Senior Center, which received $1,500 from the bank last year.
Jeanne Generali of the Middlebury Senior Center said there was a great need for some extra cash in the center’s limited budget.
Algela Leveille, also representing the senior center, said some of their seniors even opened up an account at the Naugatuck Savings Bank just so they could vote for the organization.
St. Francis Church in Naugatuck received $3,755, the Naugatuck YMCA received $3,037, the Middlebury Congregational Church received $2,982 and St. Mary’s Church in Naugatuck received $2,264 to round out the top five winners.
Jeff Chipokas, president of the YMCA board, said the YMCA would put the money towards children’s programs or daycare. The YMCA has 4,500 members.
“We touch a lot of the community,” he said.
Father Adam Hurbanczuk of St. Mary’s and St. Hedwig churches said the churches would use the money for charity to support the poor.
Deacon Earle Kimball, of the same churches, said they might use some of the money to help unemployed parishioners or the churches’ predominantly senior community by paying medical bills or helping to buy medical equipment.
Kimball said the church uses the Naugatuck Savings Bank for its own funds.
“It’s nice that the bank supports our local community here in Naugatuck,” he said.
Mark C. Yanarella, the bank’s president and CEO, presented awards to the organizations during May 11 ceremony at the bank’s 87 Church St. branch.
“We decided to go ask our customers basically who they would like to give it to,” Yanarella said. “It’s been a real interesting experience. We got a wide variety of recommendations.”
Yanarella said the bank started awarding grants to community organizations in 1998 because it was in a strong financial position and it wanted to give more to the community. The bank awards about $425,000 in community grants each year. Last year, it gave to 90 different organizations. Community Awards Grants winners are required to spend the money locally.
Despite a suffering economy, Yanarella said the bank has kept its financial support for community organizations at the same level for the past few years.
“We’ve made a conscious decision that this is not the time, when there’s more need than ever, to cut back,” Yanarella said.