STATE COLLEGE, PA – June 24, 2019 – Kish Bank hosted its fifth annual Kish Celebrates Community gathering on June 20 at Beaver Stadium, which featured special guest Dr. Eric Barron, President of The Pennsylvania State University. Highlights of the evening included presentations of Kish’s Humanitarian of the Year Award to Barbara Palmer, lifetime philanthropic leader in the Centre region, sponsored by The Centre County Gazette and Town&Gown Magazine; Kish’s Outstanding Non-Profit of the Year Award to Discovery Space, sponsored by The Sentinel; a Pink Zone check to its beneficiaries; and Kish’s Community Impact Award to Heidi Leonard, Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager of Kish Bank’s Huntingdon office.
“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, as he addressed the 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.
That pride—especially the phenomenon of “pride in place” and the role of the arts in creating it—became the anthem of 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 Dr. Eric Barron, President of The Pennsylvania State University and special guest at Kish Celebrates Community. William P. 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; and Angelique Cygan; Breast Health Navigator at Mount Nittany Medical Center. 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 stated, “‘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.”
Dr. Barron supported the Gallup poll, saying, “The very success of our region is dependent on the vibrancy of our communities. National surveys consistently cite the importance of educational opportunities and cultural destinations as key factors in the decisions by corporations and individuals in selecting where they live and work. 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 believes that, for the size of the region, the communities are well-equipped with museums, such as the Juniata College Museum of Art and The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State. In addition to the Palmer, Penn State has 21 other museums, but deterrents like parking challenges prevent them from becoming destinations. Barron continued, “I have a vision and plan for a museum complex at the edge of the Arboretum at Penn State. 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 excess funding received via Big Ten media contract negotiations. Barron thanked Kish Bank for being among the first to donate to the new museum project, exclaiming, “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.”
Kish Bank presented 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, Barbara immediately commenced 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 William P. Hayes, Chairman and CEO of Kish Bank, and Mimi Barash Coppersmith, Barbara Palmer’s lifelong friend who accepted the recognition on her behalf.
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,” said Hayes.
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,” said Coppersmith, continuing, “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 to the appropriate place of honor in the new museum.
Discovery Space, a State College non-profit dedicated to providing science education through interactive exhibits and hands-on programs, was awarded the Outstanding NonProfit 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 of Discovery Space, gives community members the space, tools, and classes to be able to make anything.
In making the award, Kish Bank President and COO Greg Hayes, said, “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.”
N. Susan Woodring, Executive Director of Pink Zone, presented a Pink Zone check in the amount of $311,006 to beneficiaries, including three local hospitals: Mount Nittany Medical Center; Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital; and Penn Highlands Huntingdon, formerly J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital. Since its Greg Hayes, President and COO of Kish Bank, and Linda Gall, Advisory Board Member and Fundraising Campaign Chair for Discovery Space. inception, nearly $3 million have 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. Kelly, who was in attendance, urged, “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].”
Kish’s Community Impact Award, a prestigious award made annually to a Kish employee, was presented Kish Bank President and COO 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.
Kish Bank is an $870 million regional community bank that operates sixteen offices and financial centers in Centre, Mifflin, and Huntingdon counties. Affiliates of Kish Bank include: Kish Insurance, Kish Financial Solutions, Kish Benefits Consulting, and Kish Travel. For additional information, please visit www.kishbank.com. Kish Bank is a subsidiary of Kish Bancorp, Inc., trading under the OTC stock ticker symbol of KISB.
Photos by Chuck Fong