Lee Bank Establishes Foundation to Build on Community Reinvestment

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Chuck Leach, president of Lee Bank and and Foundation Board Member Alison Brigham.
LEE, Mass. — Lee Bank has created the Lee Bank Foundation and project distributing $250,000 through the Foundation, a more formal entity for community donations. 
"Lee Bank's community contributions stretch back to its origins in 1852, but establishing Lee Bank Foundation sharpens our focus even further," said Chuck Leach, president of Lee Bank. "The Foundation also simplifies the application process for organizations doing meaningful work to support our Berkshire community."
The recently renovated Marble House will house the foundation along with the new financial wellness service, for which hiring is under way.
In recent years, Lee Bank has typically set aside at least 5 percent of its annual net income for the support of area nonprofits. This giving has been on the rise: in 2020, Lee Bank contributed nearly $179,000 to community nonprofits; in 2019, $145,000 and in 2018, $120,000. Last year, Lee Bank's distributions included $50,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County.
The Bank has supported more than 200 programs and organizations in recent years, including Greenagers, Community Access to the Arts (CATA), Berkshire Humane Society, Berkshire Immigrant Center and others.
The Foundation will be funded at $5 million by Berkshire Financial Services (Lee Bank's parent company), with the goal of providing $250,000 in grants annually to nonprofits.
"The timing for creation of the Lee Bank Foundation could not be better," said Jake McCandless of Lee, a Foundation board member. "After a year of turmoil and uncertainty with Covid-19, nonprofits supporting our community and our neighbors will benefit from a streamlined process that supports their vital missions now and into the future."
In addition to a 2021 grant goal of $250,000, Lee Bank's employee-driven, branch-based sponsorships will continue as in the past, with a $70,000 projection this year. 
"In addition to Foundation funding, our branch-based sponsorship awards are recommended by employees, based on their awareness of local needs and activities in their branch communities," said Leach.
The Foundation's board of directors includes Chuck Leach (president), Alison Brigham (treasurer) Nina Garlington (secretary) and Jake McCandless (director). Additional directors will be named in coming months, including at least one additional Lee Bank employee.
"Our goal is to empower our employees, customers and community, with excellent service, with simplicity and sincerity," said Leach. "Lee Bank Foundation is another means for us to meet this commitment."
For more information about the Lee Bank Foundation, visit the Community Impact page on the Lee Bank website.  
The Foundation's application for funding can be found here
Any questions can be submitted to our Marketing Manager and Lee Bank Foundation Treasurer Alison Brigham, at requests@leebank.com.

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LitNet Welcomes New Board Member

LEE, Mass. — Literacy Network of South Berkshire (LitNet) announced the election of Lorena Dus to the organization's Board of Directors.  
"We are very excited to welcome Lorena to the Board. Her background and perspective are ideal for providing strategic direction for LitNet's future growth," said Merle Duskin Kailas, President of the LitNet Board.  
Dus currently works as a Senior Case Worker at Berkshire Immigrant Center (BIC). A native of Venezuela, Dus joined BIC in September of 2017 after moving to the United States from Ireland. 
She has a degree in Political Science and a master's degree in Human Rights, and has worked with non-profit organizations from a very young age helping indigenous people, refugees, displaced people, and children at risk. She has traveled doing humanitarian aid after the earthquakes in El Salvador (2001), Peru (2007) and Haiti (2010) and has volunteered with the UNHCR, One Young World, the Irish Red Cross, and Oxfam International.
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