Kennebunk, ME – The Kennebunk Savings Community Promise annual giving program is looking back on the year in donations to local nonprofit organizations; in 2022, contributions totaled $1.8 million, with 362 groups receiving funds. The Community Promise is a source of pride for the mutually-owned Bank and its employees. “We see our communities as our stockholders,” said Bradford C. Paige, President & CEO. “The Community Promise is central to our purpose and it is part of our identity to be as involved as we are.”

Among the Bank’s donations this year was a season-long sponsorship of the New Hampshire Theatre Project (NHTP), a community-minded arts nonprofit in Portsmouth, NH’s West End. “The Kennebunk Savings Season Sponsorship is invaluable to New Hampshire Theatre Project,” said Genevieve Aichele, the theatre group’s Executive Director. “Ticket fees only cover 30% of a production’s cost, even less now with audiences slow to return after COVID. Without sponsors like Kennebunk Savings, we could never produce the high-quality, thought-provoking performances for which NHTP is known.” The Bank’s donation also underwrites NHTP’s “Community Connectors” series, which encourages community dialogue around issues and themes explored in their shows.

A grant from the Bank went to further expanding the Sanford Community Garden managed by the Sanford-Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust. “The support of Kennebunk Savings allowed us to serve more gardeners and three social service agencies along with a summer gardening program for 20 pre-teens,” said Bud Johnston, the Trust’s Director. The Sanford Head Start Program also received almost 400 pounds of produce from the gardens. In 2023, the Land Trust plans on augmenting the gardens with a greenhouse, and elevated garden beds for increased accessibility.

Kennebunk Savings helped fund the preservation and protection of the Barkley Property in Hampton – a project that Hampton Conservation Commission Chair Jay Diener called “an extraordinary achievement.” The land encompasses 22 acres of pristine wetland and upland in an already highly-developed area of Hampton. “The property has many great qualities about it related to storm water management, water quality, wildlife habitat, and wildlife corridors. It will also give people a chance to step off the roads and away from the community bustle to settle among the trees and by the flowing water for a few moments of peace and quiet. That is as important to the success of a community as is a vibrant economy and great schools,” Diener said.

The Bank also supported the work of longtime educational partner, Junior Achievement of Maine. The group’s Development Director, Abby Rioux, notes that the Bank’s grant “is projected to empower over 1,400 students in York County during the 2022-2023 school year.” The group’s school programs teach skills like budgeting and career planning, as part of their “Financial Education and Work Readiness for York County Kids” initiative. “After two difficult years that created severe academic barriers for Maine kids, Kennebunk Savings’ support continues to help inspire students to dream big and reach their potential,” Rioux continued.

The Bank’s Spotlight Fund – a proactive arm of their giving program – made targeted donations in support of three signature causes – substance use disorder prevention and recovery, alleviating food insecurity, and supporting early childhood development. Spotlight grants included helping to purchase a car for the Maine Recovery Fund to provide rides to work for their clients, and a contribution toward the construction of the new Families First medical center in Portsmouth, NH.

The $1.8 million in total donations represents the Bank’s highest-ever community commitment, but Paige emphasized one of the Bank’s informal, internal mottos: “We like to say that it’s not just about what we give, it’s also what we do, and I really believe that,” he said. Kennebunk Savings employees logged 8,950 hours of volunteer time in 2022. Liz Torrance, VP, Social Responsibility Manager at the Bank, observed that “our coworkers are everywhere in the community. Serving on boards, helping to organize fundraisers, pitching in with yardwork and caring for animals at shelters.”

Volunteering even took some employees into the ocean, where they assisted with Special Surfers, a nonprofit that provides surfing lessons to individuals with disabilities. Kennebunk Savings has been a longtime sponsor and provider of volunteer assistance. “This summer was my first time volunteering with Special Surfers, and I will make sure not to miss it moving forward,” said Jess Owens, Manager at the Bank’s Lower Village branch in Kennebunk. “Seeing the smiles on the faces of the participants, and tears of joy from the parents was so incredible. You would have to experience it for yourself to truly understand. Having a family member with a physical disability gives me such an appreciation for what this program contributes to our community. I am counting down the days till the next event!”

The Bank’s Community Relations team, which administers annual giving, has been working responsively since the beginning of the pandemic. “The circumstances of COVID-19 prompted our nonprofit partners to get creative—expanding access and creating new channels for services,” Torrance explained. “Two years later, the scope of their work has permanently expanded – and yet many of them are operating with lower levels of funding. It was gratifying to be able to show up for them.”

Kennebunk Savings Employees Jess Owens and Nancy Caron volunteer at a Special Surfers event
Kennebunk Savings Employees Jess Owens and Nancy Caron volunteer at a Special Surfers event