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Kish Bank Community Celebration Honors Local Difference-Makers, Looks to Future of the Arts in the Region

by on June 27, 2019 4:30 AM

Kish Bank honored individuals and organizations who are committed to making a difference in the local community with its fifth annual Kish Celebrates Community event on June 20 at Beaver Stadium.

The gathering, which featured special guest speaker Penn State President Eric Barron, included the presentation of Kish's Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year Award to Discovery Space and the Humanitarian of the Year Award honoring the late Barbara Palmer, a lifetime philanthropic leader in the Centre Region who died in January. Heidi Leonard, assistant vice president and branch manager of Kish Bank’s Huntingdon office, received the Community Impact Award and a Pink Zone check was presented to central Pennsylvania hospitals.

“We’re here to share our pride in this region, celebrate your commitment to our communities, recognize the work of some outstanding organizations and individuals, and learn about an amazing new project with significant implications for the future of this region and our quality of life,” said William P. Hayes, Chairman and CEO of Kish Bank, addressing a crowd of 250 community volunteers and supporters. “For a regional community bank that is headquartered and entirely focused here, it is a source of great pride that we can play our part in the positive force created by this region’s commitment to caring, volunteering, and giving,” he continued.

 “Pride in place” and the role of the arts in creating it became an anthem for the evening, as Hayes cited the findings of the “Soul of the Community” study conducted by Gallup and the Knight Foundation. The study, which examined 26 small cities across the U.S., ranked quality of life factors that specifically contribute to community attachment and what the survey called “pride in place.”

The results of the study, in which the State College region ranked third in the country, found that in all of the 26 communities, social offerings, openness, and aesthetics are most highly correlated to community attachment.

Quoting from the study’s findings, Hayes said, “‘A community’s most attached residents have strong pride in it, a positive outlook on the community’s future, and a sense that it is the perfect place for them.’ And there is little question that the arts are important in building that bridge because they connect directly with the human spirit and the sense of well-being that the arts in all its forms help to stimulate.”

Barron added that vibrant communities are key to the success of the region and noted that national surveys regularly cite the importance of educational and cultural opportunities when people and businesses decide where they want to be located.

"The arts are at the top of the list. I applaud Kish Bank’s focus on communities, and their support of the arts, which will increase our ability to draw visitors and new residents to our region,” Barron said

For the size of the region, local communities are well-equipped with museums, such as The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State
and Juniata College Museum of Art, Barron said. In addition to the Palmer, Penn State has 21 other museums, but deterrents like parking challenges prevent them from becoming destinations.

“I have a vision and plan for a museum complex at the edge of the Arboretum at Penn State," Barron said. "We need a place large enough to display all the magnificent works of art. We need to be able to access more parking. We need school buses to be able to pull up to the front and drop off kids.”

The new University Art Museum at Penn State will not be funded by tuition dollars, but by donors and additional funding received from the university's share of the Big Ten media contract negotiations.

Barron thanked Kish Bank for being among the first to donate to the new museum project.

“This is an opportunity to increase the vibrancy of our region in a way that has a profound impact on how we associate ourselves with this wonderful place in which we live,” he said.

Humanitarian of the Year Award

The Humanitarian of the Year Award posthumously to Barbara Palmer. She passed away in January of this year at the age of 93, but her legacy of giving and caring will endure for generations. After arriving in State College in 1953, she immediately began to engage in community activities. In 1986, she and her husband, Jim, donated stock to Penn State University’s art museum, which was renamed The Palmer Museum at Penn State in their honor, and endowed chairs in the Colleges of Communications and Engineering.

Palmer became the first female president of Centre County United Way and facilitated Easter Seals’ movement to the United Way. She chaired the Women in Philanthropy for Penn State’s Grand Destiny Campaign, provided Centre Volunteers in Medicine with is first major gift, and supported numerous other causes, including Centre LifeLink, the YMCA, and Mount Nittany Health Foundation, where she not only volunteered and contributed, but played leadership roles in fundraising as well.

A renowned patron of the arts, Palmer was a founding member of the Palmer Museum of Art Advisory Board, endowed scholarships for College of Arts and Architecture students, and supported many artistic causes, including the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, the State Theatre, Penn State Centre Stage, and the Center for Performing Arts.

“Barbara appreciated and experienced the full range of elements that are important to ‘pride in place,’ but most notably her appreciation for the arts seemed to permeate her life and remained an important priority for her to the end,” Hayes said.

Palmer’s lifelong friend, local businesswoman Mimi Barash Coppersmith, accepted the recognition on her behalf. 

“I feel the love and gratitude that surround this latest recognition of my beautiful, ever-loving, hopeful, graceful, kind, and giving best friend,” Coppersmith said. “For all of us and all of the Palmer family, thank you, Kish Bank and Barbara Palmer, for your roles in making our combined community a truly better place.”

Kish presented a donation to the Palmer Museum of Art in Palmer’s memory, and offered to commission a bronze plaque by Jeanne Stevens-Sollman bearing her likeness to be affixed in an appropriate place of honor in the new museum.

Bill Hayes, Chairman and CEO of Kish Bank; Mimi Barash Coppersmith. Photo by Chuck Fong.

Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year Award  

Discovery Space, the State College non-profit dedicated to providing science education through interactive exhibits and hands-on programs, was awarded the Outstanding Non-Profit of the Year Award in recognition of its new collaborative community workshop, The Rivet, which will open later this year. The Rivet, a 5,000-square-foot makerspace located in the garage bays behind Discovery Space on North Atherton Street, gives community members the space, tools, and classes to be able to make anything.

“Many elements of a vibrant healthy community are developed through the creativity of individuals and non-profits looking to fulfill a need. Discovery Space did just that."

Greg Hayes, President and COO of Kish Bank and Linda Gall, Advisory Board Member and Fundraising Campaign Chair for Discovery Space. Photo by Chuck Fong.

Pink Zone Presentation to Area Hospitals

N. Susan Woodring, Executive Director of Pink Zone, presented a Pink Zone check in the amount of $311,006 to beneficiaries, including three regional hospitals: Mount Nittany Medical Center; Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital; and Penn Highlands Huntingdon, formerly J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital. Since its inception, nearly $3 million has been raised to support the fight against breast cancer and empower survivors; of that, Kish Bank employees have raised more than $212,000.

Woodring used the opportunity to describe new Pink Zone initiatives, including a partnership with the Penn State Research team and Dr. Deb Kelly, whose work looks at the molecular structure and behavior of cancer cells and what sustains their growth and causes them to return.

“Let’s look deeply into this problem using the wonderful tools and investments that we have here at Penn State and lead the globe in killing these cancer cells and outsmarting and outwitting them in very unique ways.  I would challenge everyone to join me in supporting [Pink Zone],” Kelly said.

Bill Hayes, Chairman and CEO of Kish Bank; Kirk Thomas, Chief Administrative Officer at Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital; Wendy Garlock, Penn Highlands Huntingdon Foundation President; Jennifer Pensinger, Executive Director of the PA Breast Cancer Coalition; Dr. Deb Kelly, Ph.D., MRSC, Professor and Lloyd & Dottie Foehr Huck Chair in Molecular Biophysics; N. Susan Woodring, Executive Director of Pink Zone; Angelique Cygan; Breast Health Navigator at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Photo by Chuck Fong.

Kish’s Community Impact Award

Kish’s Community Impact Award, which is made annually to a Kish employee, was presented by Greg Hayes to Heidi Leonard, assistant vice president and branch manager of Kish Bank’s Huntingdon office. Leonard is Treasurer for the board of J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, parent liaison for the board of Huntingdon Dance Company, and recently joined the board of the Huntingdon Community Center. She serves on the steering committee for Leadership Huntingdon County and is active in the Standing Stone Elementary School PTO. 

As co-chair of Kish’s Community Action Team in Huntingdon, she participates in the PRIDE Telethon and PRIDE Olympix; collects canned goods for local elementary schools; rings the bell during the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign and supports their school supply and winter coat drives; and volunteers for Comcast Cares Day, which benefits the Huntingdon Community Center.

Greg Hayes, President and COO of Kish Bank; Heidi Leonard, Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager of Kish Bank’s Huntingdon office; Daryl Hartzler, Commercial Lines Insurance Specialist; Sandy Berardis, Kish Travel Specialist. Hartzler and Berardis were finalists for the Community Impact Award. Photo by Chuck Fong.

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