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Easthampton, Massachusetts — bankESB has approved a PPP loan to Riverside Industries Inc. which will allow the Easthampton-based day program to continue serving its more than 250 clients and pay its nearly 200 employees for the next eight weeks.

“We are so grateful to Matt Sosik, our lender Maureen Mahar, and to bankESB,” Riverside President and CEO Char Gentes said.  “The bank has always been a strong advocate for us in so many ways, and once again bankESB is Riverside’s champion in the face of this pandemic.”  Since 2005, bankESB has provided charitable donations to Riverside totaling nearly $300,000.

According to Gentes, Riverside’s facilities at 1 Cottage Street closed on March 17, but its mission has not stopped as the organization continues working with clients under a new remote service model and has paid 100% of employees’ salaries and benefits for the last four weeks.  Without the PPP loan from bankESB, Gentes said that she would be facing some difficult decisions on how to keep her organization operational starting next week.

“I told Matt that I needed his help, that we were in a vulnerable situation, and that if we didn’t get these funds, we would not have a future,” she explained.  “Matt’s promise was to get Riverside in line for PPP funding because he understood the dire need.” 

According to Gentes, the loan will allow the organization to breathe and continue its mission of serving its clients remotely, while paying its staff in full for the next eight weeks. 

“These are trying times,” said Matt Sosik, bankESB President and CEO.  “With Riverside forced to close, we knew the financial situation they were facing and the huge negative impact it would have on the community, their clients, and their staff.  We stepped in quickly to get these funds to Riverside today so that they could meet all of their obligations.  As a community bank, this is what we do and I’m proud of our ability to help local businesses and non-profits like Riverside,” he said.

“bankESB’s help is an emergency lifeline that will allow us to both pay our staff and help our clients,” said Gentes. “Our staff members are human service workers who rely on their paychecks and need their health insurance and benefits.”

The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a small business stimulus program included in the federal government’s recently enacted $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  The PPP provides $349 billion for SBA lenders like bankESB to fund loans to businesses in order to guarantee eight weeks of payroll and other costs to help businesses remain viable. To qualify, businesses must have 500 or fewer employees and demonstrate that they have been negatively affected by the Coronavirus. While businesses must apply by June 30, they should apply as soon as possible because funds are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

While the loan funds provide a short-term bridge, Gentes stresses that more funds are needed for the longer term.  As a fee-for-service program, Riverside still faces the prospect of decreased revenue due to the state mandated stay-at-home advisory.  Today, Gentes sent out an urgent appeal to funders and supporters by email, saying that the need for financial support could not be any greater than it is now and urging the community to consider supporting Riverside during this unprecedented time. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.rsi.org.

One of Riverside’s tenants, Janna Ugone, has generously donated a supply of masks for some of Riverside’s sister colleagues in residential services and for Riverside clients, families, and employees.  For more information, visit westernMAskproject.com.”

About Riverside Industries

Riverside Industries serves people with disabilities living in 33 cities and towns throughout Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. The company’s nearly 200 employees work directly with or support clients’ ability to achieve daily independence, from securing and maintaining jobs to undertaking daily activities like voting and going to the store to purchase daily items they need to live.  Approximately half of Riverside’s clients live with their families while the remainder live in private or state-operated residential homes. While the median client age is between 35 and 40, Riverside serves clients as young as 16 through its high school partnership program as well as clients in their 60s and 70s until they reach retirement age. 

About bankESB

Founded in 1869 as Easthampton Savings Bank, bankESB is headquartered in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and operates 11 branches throughout western Massachusetts. Through its sponsorship and charitable giving program, bankESB and the Easthampton Savings Bank Charitable Foundation support non-profit organizations and causes throughout Hampden and Hampshire counties. In 2019, the bank and foundation donated more than $337,000 to nearly 250 organizations. In the last five years, the program has donated more than $1.7 million. For more information, visit bankESB.com.

bankESB is a member of the Hometown Financial Group, a $3 billion mutual multi-bank holding company headquartered in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and the parent company of bankESB, bankHometown, and Abington Bank. For more information, visit bankHFG.com.

In the Photo

Riverside Industries President and CEO Char Gentes and bankESB President and CEO Matt Sosik met on Thursday, April 9th to celebrate signing the documentation necessary for Riverside to receive PPP loan funds needed to remain operational during this pandemic.

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