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Bank officials presented a check to the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter.

Berkshire Bank Cuts Ribbon On Renovated North Street Branch

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
01:10PM / Wednesday, January 16, 2013
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Sean Gray, Michael Supranowicz, Daniel Bianchi, Tami Gunsch and Heidi Higgins cut the ribbon on the newly renovated branch.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Bank donated $1,500 to local organizations Wednesday to celebrate the opening of their newly renovated North Street branch.

The renovated branch features a cafe, a community room and a new teller layout intended to provide a more comfortable experience for the customers as well as reduce bank errors.

But bank officials didn't hark on the branch itself but rather used it as an example of how much they care about the community.

"We are very committed to Berkshire County and downtown Pittsfield," Tami Gunsch, senior vice president of retail banking, said.

Bank employees have put in thousands of hours helping community organizations during paid shifts and given grants to many organizations, which Berkshire Bank Foundation Executive Director Peter Lafayette claims could be the most by any employer in New England.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony continued that emphasis with $1,500 donations to both the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter and Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires.

"This means a lot," said Goodwill CEO Frank Engels, adding that the money goes to their "Suit Yourself" program which provides free work clothing for those entering or reentering the workforce. "This type of reaching out is extremely important to us."

Eleanor Sonsini Director Megan Padgett was at a loss for words with the donation because the shelter is so small and can only survive with volunteerism and gifts.

"We rely very heavily on community organizations and our volunteer staff," Padgett said.

On the business side, bank Executive Vice President of Retail Banking Sean Gray said they have loaned the most money than ever before in the last year, further helping the economy grow.

"We're really proud to be part of this community," Gray said. "No community is more important than our home base."

One of the the bank's gifts was te donation of their former offices on Allen Street to 1Berkshire. That gift stood out the most for Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President Michael Supranowicz. He called the branch renovation just "a small investment" while the larger investments are the ones in the community the bank is making every day.

"Berkshire Bank has always been a great partner," said Mayor Daniel Bianchi. "We just wish you the very best of luck."

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