Reflections on 2016: Norway Savings Bank 150th Anniversary

As 2016 comes to a close, I’d like to share with you reflections from one of the most significant milestone years in the history of Norway Savings Bank.

Think back…all the way back to 1866, that’s when Norway Savings Bank was originally chartered…right after the Civil War by fourteen men who shared a vision.

They signed the charter in February of that year and Nathaniel Gunnison was elected the first President. The Oxford Democrat newspaper reported in 1866, “On Monday last, the Corporation of the Norway Savings Bank met and organized agreeable to the provisions of the Charter granted by the last Legislature….Deposits will be received after the first of April, and interest after the first of May. Sums of not less than 25 cents nor more than 400 dollars will be received on deposit….The institution is not established to foster a spirit of speculation, but rather to encourage economy and a disposition to save the small items that are so lavishly spent in a place like this for various articles that are of no real value, but amount to a decided injury to the recipient. The young, especially in this region, will now have an excellent opportunity to commence a new system in the disposal of their various gatherings of cash, which if kept in this saving institution, as many are in others, till they arrive at their majority, will give them a good start on their entering upon the stage of business for themselves.”

For the last 150 years, Norway Savings Bank’s mission has been rooted in meeting the needs of our communities. Whether it has been supporting the local community theater, membership in the land trust, caring for animal protection, driving economic development, or supporting children and education, our charitable giving and employee volunteerism has always identified the bank as a genuine community-minded organization. And over the last year, we have supported more than 400 organizations including the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Boy Scouts of America – Camp Hinds Dining Facility, Norway Downtown Revitalization, Riding to the Top, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Boys and Girls Club, Equality Maine, Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association and Friends of the Eastern Prom – and if you haven’t visited Fort Allen Park this year – you really need to see the interpretive exhibits we helped fund in this beautiful park located on Munjoy Hill in Portland. I am certain our bank forefathers would be proud of the community work the bank continues to do.

But how do you properly pay tribute to an organization that celebrates its 150th birthday? Well, we began the year by publishing a special commemorative book that chronicles the bank’s history and highlights significant milestones.  I am happy to say the book was the recipient of a Pinnacle Award, which JS McCarthy Printers (the book printer) in Augusta received, shortly after its publication.  Next we focused on celebrating with our customers, our communities, and with our employees. Lots of birthday cake was enjoyed in all 24 of our locations back in February, and customers have been invited all year long to submit stories on Facebook of how the bank has impacted their lives or made a difference. Here’s one that captured our hearts:

“I have been a Norway Savings Bank Customer since 2000 when I moved back to Maine after graduating college. I love the hometown feel and the personalized service. I love that I know my bank tellers and they know me. They notice if I got haircut or change the day I do my usual banking business. These little details matter. Yet, Norway offers big bank perks, like the Gen Gold option. My husband used to use a large out of state bank and he has also happily switched to Norway Savings Bank. No intentions of switching, they have our business for the long haul.”

Legislative sentiments and words of congratulations came in from all members of our Maine delegation, and from local house and senate members. Senator Angus King even stopped by our Brunswick office to offer his words of congratulations. At our Norway office, Senator King’s Regional Representative, Ben Tucker along with State Representative, Tom Winsor and State Senator, Jim Hamper presented a copy of the Congressional Record statement as well as recognition of service in honor of our 150th Anniversary. And our employees enjoyed a blast of a celebration when we all donned our best disco gear and danced to the music of Motor Booty Affair as part of our annual employee awards banquet.  We celebrated in May with the bank’s Corporators, and then raised our glasses again in August with the bank’s retirees.

Our employees found other ways to celebrate, including the publication of a Norway Savings Bank special limited-edition cookbook which was sold in our branch network for $10. Funds have been tallied, and we distributed the $10 thousand dollars in cookbook proceeds to various food pantries in our branch network. And just last week, employees created a 25 year time capsule where all kinds of photos, mementos, etc. were collected and placed in a special vault for opening in 25 years. I got a sneak peek at the various items…at least future Norway Savings Bank employees will think we were a fun bunch!

So, the year has flown by, and I have been proud to lead such a special organization, especially one with such a rich heritage and a generous spirit. I consider myself a steward of this place, and I am resolved to continue our traditions, our commitment to community and customers, our organization as a Best Places to Work, and as a Best Bank to Work for, continue our place as one of the top performing community banks in Maine, and generally, to ensure we are a strong organization for another 150 years.

In closing, on behalf of our 280 employees, I would like to thank you for your steadfast and loyal support of Norway Savings Bank. We wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.