Bankwell gives back to Wilton

According to Director of Marketing Diane Knetzger, Bankwell is named for its focus on wellness, and part of that wellness comes from giving back to the community.
That is why the executives, senior managers and branch employees at Bankwell Financial Group make a constant effort to help out in the places where they do business.
Bankwell is a Connecticut banking company that serves Fairfield and New Haven counties.
Most recently in the scope of its philanthropy, Bankwell in Wilton, along with the Norwalk and New Canaan branches, kicked off the “Give Well Food Drive” benefiting the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk — a homeless shelter — which began on Sept. 1 and will run through October.
Drop-offs are being accepted at the branch location, 47 Old Ridgefield Road.
The wish list for the drive mentions cereal, fruit juice, cooking oil, powdered milk, grape jelly, peanut butter, fresh and canned fruit, canned ham and tuna, pasta, pasta sauce, canned vegetables and canned soup. Monetary donations will also be accepted into a “pantry account.”
Just the month before, Wilton’s branch had two clothing drives, the proceeds of one going to the Open Door Shelter and those of the other to the Pacific House Emergency Men’s Shelter in Stamford.
“We weren’t planning on doing a food drive,” said Knetzger, “but we were told that the Open Door Shelter is in dire need of food donations right now.”
Though Bankwell in Wilton had just done two drives during a single month in August, they could not knowingly ignore the Open Door Shelter’s cry for help.
“We got word of the shortage and we said, ‘well, let’s see what we can do; let’s help,’” Knetzger said.
Branch manager and Wiltonian Ann Mitrione said it is because of efforts like that that Bankwell stands head and shoulders above all the other places where she has worked. Mitrione has managed Bankwell in Wilton for one year.
“I’ve been in this industry for 27 years,” she said, “and I’ve never worked for an organization that has been so generous to the community, with not only monetary donations, but volunteer hours as well.”
Mitrione experienced those hours first-hand when she found herself weeding, pruning and landscaping on a Saturday as a volunteer for the 28th annual HomeFront Day, a recurring event in which low-income homes in Norwalk are repaired
and renovated.
She will also be volunteering at the Oktoberfest event at Trackside on
Oct. 3.
But Bankwell in Wilton’s philanthropy doesn’t end with fund-raisers and volunteer days. One of the major ways the bank gives back is through the lending of its services.
Twice each year, once in May and again in October, Wilton’s branch holds “shred days.” Businesses and members of the community, regardless of where they bank, may come to Bankwell in Wilton and watch as a shred truck destroys their sensitive documents.
Bankwell in Wilton also offers the use of one of its boardrooms to local nonprofits as a courtesy. Stay at Home in Wilton, an organization that helps senior citizens continue living independently in their homes, has its monthly board meetings there.
To further help the elder members of her community, Mitrione heads over to the Greens at Cannondale once a week to perform off-site banking transactions for the seniors there.
Bankwell in Wilton is also a drop-off location for the Toys for Tots Foundation during the holiday season.

A rewarding job

“It really makes me proud to be a part of this,” said Mitrione. To her eyes, community service “opens doors in the community; it builds relationships, partnerships that are very special and meaningful.”
Knetzger seemed to feel the same way.
“What attracted me to this particular position,” said Knetzger, “was the fact that it wasn’t just working at a bank; it was a place where you could make a difference. And we can. We’re not part of a central hub in Atlanta or Chicago where you have to get all the approvals; we can do this sort of thing. And it’s great that we can. Who doesn’t like being a part of giving back?”
“And it’s fun,” added Mitrione. “Everything we do from the 5Ks we support to the different events like the one at Trackside or some of the golf outings that are raising money for causes. It’s fun. The home build was really fun. It was a lot of work, but at the end of the day you go home and you feel good about what you did.”