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Bank helps to make new senior bus a reality

Date: 2/8/2012

Feb. 8, 2012

By Debbie Gardner

AGAWAM — A donation from Easthampton Savings Bank Foundation helped the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center reach their goal of raising $65,000 for a new bus.

Last Thursday, Branch Officer Susanne deVillier and Assistant Vice President of Commercial Lending Louise Nicholas from the Agawam branch of Easthampton Savings Bank joined bank President and CEO William Hogan Jr. at the Senior Center to present a check for $25,000 to Emile Coté, president of the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center.

“They had raised quite a bit of the money on their own when they asked us for a donation,” Hogan said. “We asked them how much, and when they told us how much they needed, we [offered] a challenge grant — if they could raise $25,000, we would match it.”

Mayor Richard Cohen praised the “wonderful partnership [Agawam] has with Easthampton Savings Bank,” and thanked them for their support, which assisted the Council on Aging to “purchase a bus for those people who need transportation to our Senior Center.”

Coté, who helped coordinate several fund-raisers to replace the center’s 12-year old bus, including a December 2011 craft fair that raised $20,000 and a pasta and meatball dinner that raised $4,000, said the majority of the $40,000 that his group raised toward the purchase of the new vehicle came through a letter campaign soliciting donations from businesses and residents.

Senior Center Director Joan Linnehan, who assisted the Friends with the grant-writing proposal, said the idea of replacing the center’s aging bus was originally brought up in January 2011. In September 2011, the Friends began planning fund-raisers to raise the money needed to replace it.

“It was really Emile and his committee and the letters they wrote [that raised the majority of the funds],” she said, adding that the provisions of the grant required that the group raise 75 percent of the cost of the new bus before the bank would make its donation.

Linnehan added that the order for the new Senior Center bus was being placed that morning, the same day the check was received from Easthampton Savings Bank.

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