Saco KeyBank employee Michelle Lemelin mops the floors of Biddeford's Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center as part of statewide efforts for bank employees to give back to their communities Wednesday. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

Saco KeyBank employee Michelle Lemelin mops the floors of Biddeford’s Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center as part of statewide efforts for bank employees to give back to their communities Wednesday. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Seeds of Hope in Biddeford is the recipient of a spic n’ span spring cleaning treatment, thanks to a slew of generous employees from the KeyBank branch in Saco on Wednesday.
 
The cleanup was part of the bank’s 27th annual “Neighbors Make the Difference Day,” during which 300 KeyBank employees engaged in more than 30 community service projects across the state — including several areas of York County, from Ogunquit to Kennebunk to Shapleigh and beyond.
 
In Biddeford, four employees from the KeyBank branch in Saco mopped the floors, scrubbed the walls and swept the halls of the Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center in Biddeford, which feeds between 70 to 80 people in need breakfast and lunch several days each week.
 
Rev. Shirley Bowen, executive director of the community center, said it was an honor to be selected by the bank’s employees as one of the hundreds of projects across Maine. 
“We’re just really honored that they recognize we’re an organization that really tries to help people on as tight of a shoestring as possible. To get the blessing of having people come in and just give freely of their time … is wonderful,” Bowen said.
 
Shannon Pickel, manager of the Saco KeyBank branch, also lauded the opportunity to get out and volunteer for the event.
 
“It’s just something that we’re doing to give back to our community. Our business is successful because of our clients, so it’s our way of doing what we can to help,” said Pickel, who celebrated her first Neighbors Make the Difference Day on Wednesday. “I think it’s really great that KeyBank is getting into the community, and we’re doing this for nonprofits and local businesses that need the help.”
 
KeyBank employees receive paid time off to volunteer in the neighborhoods where they live and work. In Maine, they volunteered more than 1,200 hours during the event, according to a release from the bank.
 
Bowen said the center cleans up after each meal service, and hires someone to thoroughly clean each week, but the deep spring cleaning done Wednesday will help the center maintain its fresh and clean image all spring long.
 
She said, regardless of one’s circumstances, each person deserves to be served in a safe, clean and welcoming environment.
 
“We believe that the people we serve should have the opportunities that those who don’t need our services (have): to be in an environment which is clean and bright and welcoming, and we work really hard to make sure that’s the case,” she said. “This is an extra benefit to really get this level of deep-cleaning done.
 
“We care about our space, we want it to look nice for our neighbors and we want to keep it clean and healthy,” she said.
 
Jen Steimer, lead teller at the KeyBank Saco branch, said the day of service wasn’t so much about the bank or the services it provides, but instilling a commitment to community service that will continue to persist.
 
“I think it’s really amazing to be part of a bank that’s so invested in their community … This is our chance to be part of that,” she said. “We can all get out and make a difference, even in the littlest ways like cleaning walls and mopping floors.”
 
Pickel agreed.
 
“The little things count,” she said. “I wish we could donate so much more, but I think every little bit helps.”
 
— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


KeyBank employees from the Saco branch clean up the Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center in Biddeford on Wednesday, as part of the bank’s 27th annual “Neighbors Make the Difference Day.” ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

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