A number of projects on the Peninsula were boosted last year by grants from Ettalong’s Bendigo Bank in a bid to support grassroots community initiatives.
Notable donations included a $50,000 grant to spark plans for the Umina Skate Park Precinct upgrades, a $34,000 fund to support youth programs through the Peninsula PCYC, and a $70,000 donation to the Umina Beach Men’s Shed to help build a new shed.
Branch manager of Community Bank Ettalong Beach, Peter McKeon, said the 16-year-old branch has always tried to give back to the community through local investments.
“When the big banks left Ettalong, local shareholders got together to make sure there was still banking here,” McKeon said.
“And now with 240 shareholders, our rule is that we only give 20 per cent of our profits back to our shareholders each year in the form of dividends, with the remainder available to assist in community projects.
“There is a verification process with the applications, but we aren’t looking for specific plans … we’re always actively looking for worthwhile community projects.”
McKeon said the branch is now involved in a range of initiatives to support victims of domestic violence, including offering no interest loans to families across the Coast, and regular donations to organisation Relief Beyond Crisis.
The branch’s recent $70,000 commitment to assist in the relocation of the Umina Beach Men’s Shed on Osborne Ave has “made a world of difference”, according to Men’s Shed Secretary, Vic Brown.
“It makes the work possible – without those donations and assistance, it would take our members a very long time to raise enough money,” Brown said.
Funding from the bank has also recently reached Ettalong Public School, with a $5000 donation to help purchase food for its Breakfast Club.
Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch said the Bendigo Bank team does some incredible work across the local community.
“Bendigo Bank’s funding initiatives and profit-with-purpose model show us just how easy it is for all of us to contribute every day to a better and stronger community,” Tesch said.
“We can all put our money where our mouth is and with a simple switch of bank, we can have a remarkable difference on our community and local quality of life.”
Tesch also noted that as soon as she was elected in April, 2017, she opened the Gosford’s electorate account in Bendigo Bank, knowing that 80 per cent of any profits made by the bank would be returned back into the community.
“I encourage community organisations to reach out to apply for any grants and to support their members in switching to their local Bendigo community bank … it’s a two-way thing,” Tesch said.
“They really focus on community needs.”
Coast-wide, Bendigo Community branches in East Gosford, Lisarow and Kincumber have all helped contribute $30,000 to provide palliative care equipment at Gosford Hospital, $50,000 to Regional Youth Support Services, and a $15,000 cheque to support Central Coast families who have a child with a prolonged illness.
More information on how to apply for the community grants can be found on the Community Bank Ettalong Beach website.