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Tiffany Club Honors Eastern Bank

by Sue O’Connell
Friday Jan 31, 2014
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The Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation was honored on Jan. 23 with a "Community Leadership Award" from The Tiffany Club of New England. The Tiffany Club is a social and support organization for the transgender community.The Foundation was honored for its support of the LGBT community.

Eastern Bank chairman and CEO Rich Holbrook accepted the honor and delivered a speech. Below are his remarks:

"Thank you so much for honoring Eastern Bank here at your First Event of 2014 with your inaugural Community Leadership Award. It means a great deal to me and all of my colleagues at Eastern bank, especially those who are with me this evening.

For those of you who don’t know much about Eastern Bank. Let me give you a little history lesson.

We were founded right here in Salem in February of 1818. In fact it is possible that the founding Corporators met in this very room. We were established as a mutual bank, which means we have no shareholders, no one who owns the bank. We exist for the benefit of our stakeholders, who are our customers, our colleagues, and our communities, and we try to balance the needs and opportunities of all three. We are now both the largest and the oldest mutual bank in the entire nation, and we are very proud of that fact.

We especially take our responsibility to communities very seriously. We donate ten percent of our net income to charity every year. We are engaged in the community as volunteers in a wide variety of organizations. But we also take the view that as a bank, we have the privilege and responsibility to use not only our time and our treasure, but also our voices, to help our communities. Over the past few years, we have become much more outspoken advocates for a variety of social justice issues, including transgender rights.

We were the first bank in the country to have a Transgender person added to our Governance Structure (Gunner Scott).

We were one of the first companies to offer health insurance for transgender surgery and supporting services in Massachusetts, and one of the first to protect gender identity and expression from discrimination through our own policies.

In 2011, thanks to Nancy Stager, we were one of the very few employers who testified at the State House for Transgender Equal Rights, encouraging the Commonwealth to pass the bill to eliminate discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

Last year, we testified again at the State House in support of the Public Access Bill to ensure that people are protected in public places, regardless of their gender identity or gender expression, and we remain hopeful that this will pass.

And we continue now, as part of a workgroup across the Commonwealth and connected to others nationally, to work toward the elimination of the exclusions in health care insurance that deny medically necessary services to Transgender people.

Why do we do this? Because it is the right thing to do, and it is part of our mission.

In 1818 when we were founded, the documents indicated that the reason for establishing this new bank was to -- quote, "provide prudent and industrious persons of modest means" unquote -- with access to the financial system...at that time, to have a safe place to put their money and earn interest on it.

It is interesting the term they used to describe their target audience...PERSONS.

It does not limit the persons they meant.

It applies to the very tall and to the vertically challenged.

It applies to the very young, and to the very old.

It applies to those who are white, black, brown, yellow or red.

It applies to Protestants, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Shintoists, and atheists.

It applies to Native Americans, descendants from the Mayflower, legal immigrants from around the world, and undocumented persons.

It applies to those who are healthy, those who are ailing, those who have AIDS and other devastating diseases.

It applies to Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

It applies to gays, lesbians, straight, and the questioning.

And it applies to transgendered persons.

Why? Because we believe that every person has worth. Every person should have dignity. Every person should have an equal opportunity to work hard to live out their dream. Every person should be treated fairly, with respect. Every person should know that other people care about them and love them and advocate for them.

That is the mission that drives Eastern Bank and its people. I am incredibly proud to be associated with the bank and my colleagues and directors. I and we are incredibly honored and humbled to receive this award from you, from an organization like The Tiffany club that has had to fight so hard and so long to begin to achieve the respect and dignity that all of us deserve. Thank you so very much."

Copyright Bay Windows. For more articles from New England's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.baywindows.com

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