Montco’s BB&T Employees Roll Up Their Sleeves to Improve Communities One Project at a Time

Lighthouse Projects are a perfect illustration of how hard BB&T and its employees work to establish their roots in the communities they serve.

By Chris Cooper

BB&T Bank – based in Winston-Salem, N.C. – arrived in Pennsylvania through its recent purchases of Susquehanna Bank and National Penn Bank, and now operates 17 branches here in Montgomery County.

Known officially as Branch Banking and Trust Company, BB&T is a mission-driven organization with a strong commitment to serving communities.

“What is readily evident is the deep-rooted culture and mission of the bank, which has been in place for decades, and is unwavering,” said Mike Rainone, BB&T Market President in King of Prussia. “It carries through not only to the associates, but to the clients and, most importantly, into the community.

“The bank feels very strongly about their activities in the community and the Lighthouse Projects are the stars of the show.”

A BB&T Lighthouse Project is a service-oriented outreach that enables bank associates to roll up their sleeves and work at designated nonprofit organizations during regular working hours.

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“Every employee gets eight hours of time that they donate to a project,” said Rainone. “Some will use it all in one day, some will donate a half day to a couple of projects.

“The bank gets a budget from the sponsoring employee for the cost to provide the services to the charity. The employees are then charged with buying the material and showing up on the appointed day and carrying out the project.”

Last year, 21 individual Lighthouse Projects were completed in the Delaware Valley, with more than 250 employees donating 1,170 volunteer hours. Projects may include landscaping, food and clothing support, health services, homebuilding and rehab, educational projects, and charity walks and runs.

Mike Rainone

“There are a wide variety of projects our bank has undertaken,” said Rainone, “from painting, rehabbing, landscaping, and packing backpacks.”

Fifteen employees volunteered last year at Center in the Park, a nonprofit community center in Northwest Philadelphia that is primarily focused on the needs of older people. Rainone’s team mulched, weeded, and planted a garden in the Center’s backyard, painted its art room and lunch room, and clean its pottery room.

“Center in the Park’s mission of serving our elderly population and providing them with an outlet for social, recreational, health and fitness, arts and learning activities should be applauded,” said Rainone. “We’re proud to team up with them and help in any way we can.”

This year, a BB&T crew volunteered at the Conshohocken location of Cradles to Crayons, a national charity for children who come from low-income families. The employees helped assemble packages that included clothing, strollers, cribs, and car seats.

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Also, some BB&T employees recently volunteered at ACHIEVEability, a Philadelphia nonprofit that works to permanently break the generational cycle of poverty through higher education, affordable housing, supportive services, community and economic development, and accountability. They prepped and painted common areas there.

According to Rainone, employees at every level of the organization get involved.

“We are an organization where leaders lead by example,” he said. “From the very senior positions at BB&T all the way down the ladder, people take part. Our chairman is proud to talk about his Lighthouse activity every year.”

What’s it like to participate in a Lighthouse Project as a BB&T associate?

“From personal experience, I come away from giving back to our communities feeling thankful for the opportunity to serve,” said Rainone. “Knowing that our efforts help make the lives of others a bit better is fulfilling, and I believe my associates feel the same. And while we are always thanked for our service, we also need to give thanks to those individuals we help who carry out their organization’s mission every day.”

Additional BB&T branches in Montgomery County will also be involved with Cradles to Crayons for their Lighthouse Project. Others have chosen On Gracie’s Wings, a foundation that honors the memory of Abington’s Grace Parker by assisting foster children on their transition to independent living.

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