NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> Officials with the Bank of America celebrated the grand opening of its new financial center at the Village of Newtown Shopping Center on July 25 with a ribbon cutting.

Philadelphia market president Jim Dever, consumer banking regional executive Bassam Awadalla, consumer banking market leader Kaitlin Elwood and Newtown financial center manager Lori Kelly led the celebration with remarks and by announcing a $15,000 donation to Bucks Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s been a busy, busy year for us when it comes to how we are investing in our community and how we are impacting our associates and clients,” said Awadalla. “But this grand opening is pretty special. I am a Bucks County guy. I live and work here. I spend a lot of time in Newtown and it’s really exciting for me to be here with you today to celebrate this grand reopening.

“We had the banking center across the street, but as we thought about the needs of our clients and our associates, we invested in this tremendously beautiful new center. I’m very proud of the team here, but I’m also very proud of the bank’s investment in our local community.”

The new financial center - the sixth new or remodeled financial center to open in the greater Philadelphia area in the past few months - has been redesigned with new furnishings and layouts. It also incorporates the bank’s latest “high-tech, high-touch” innovations designed to advance the client experience and to help in meeting their financial goals.

“We have the best digital capabilities of any bank in the United States,” said Awadalla, “where clients, for their convenience, can schedule appointments online to see us, they can use our cardless ATMs and when they come to the financial center we have iPODs where we can educate our clients around various bank products and services or we can use leverage the iPODs to educate clients about better money habits through our financial literacy program.

“All these capabilities help clients with their day-to-day banking and for clients who need advice, we have specialists here whose number one job is to engage clients and help them with their needs,” said Awadalla.

Elwood, who oversees 11 BOA financial centers in Bucks County, began her career 16 years ago as a part-time teller at Newtown. She now ranks among the top four percent of BOA market leaders nationwide.

The Bucks County market, she said, “takes great pride in helping our clients achieve financial wellness, delivering exceptional client care - and I’m proud to say the Bucks market ranks 92 in client care - and cultivating an environment where associates are excited to come to work every day and can achieve their career goals,” said Elwood.

“We have been making investments in innovation to improve the lives of our clients, which have made it easier for our associates to do what they do best, which is staying engaged with our clients and learning more about them,” Elwood continued. “When we know more about their priorities it gives us an opportunity to really help them through their different life events.”

In addition, Elwood said BOA's associates are “passionate about giving back and making a difference in the neighborhoods where we live and work. We have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement, Gilda's House in Warminster and the Morrisville Food Bank. At the food bank we were able to help more than 100 families shop for their groceries," she said. "The hugs and smiles we received made it clear what we have the power to do as individuals, as a community and as a great company.”

Elwood also took a moment to give kudos to financial center manager Lori Kelly who had the job of opening a new center and closing an old one at the same time, “which is no easy feat. And it was a true labor of love.”

Kelly has been with BOA for 36 years, including 15 in Newtown where she has become the face of the bank for its clients.

“My favorite part of my job is being able to volunteer in the community, mentor her peers and most of all interacting with my clients," she said. "God forbid, they don’t see my car in the parking lot or me somewhere in the financial center. They are always wondering where Lori is. This gives me such pride in knowing I am individually making an impact in their lives and they feel connected with me and my team.”

Located next to the new Starbucks, the new 3,701 square foot state-of-the-art center has space where clients can meet with Bank of America certified professionals who will listen to their priorities and provide them with tailored solutions to meet their individual financial needs and goals. It replaces BOA’s former center, which will be demolished as part of a multi-million-dollar renovation and expansion of the Village at Newtown Shopping Center.

Dever said he’s been looking forward to this opening for quite some time. “We have a lot of financial centers throughout our market, but as market president and someone who lives and banks here, this is special to me,” he said.

In celebration of the brand new center, located next to the new Starbucks and adjacent to Salad Works, Dever announced a donation of $15,000 to Bucks Habitat for Humanity.

“There are many, many places where we have the opportunity to volunteer. At the top of my list is doing a Habitat home,” said Dever. “It is hard labor, but it’s fun labor. One of the most special things I have experienced as a banker is the dedication event with the homeowner. The house is not just turned over to someone. There are no freebies in life. Individuals who take on a house have had to themselves put in upwards of 200 hours. It’s a very, very special event.”

Florence Kawoczka, the executive director of Habitat Bucks County, was on hand to accept the donation on behalf of Habitat, which is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing through constructing, rehabilitating, and preserving homes; advocating for fair and just housing policies; and providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.

Through a multi-level partnership with Habitat, BOA employees have volunteered at build sites, supported grand-openings and dedications, served on the Habitat board and donated to Habitat’s ReStores in Middletown Township and in Chalfont, thrift stores that financially support the Habitat mission.

According to Kawoczka, the $15,000 donation from BOA will be used to support Habitat’s Home Repair program, which Habitat launched about eight years ago after realizing a need among the county’s low income homeowners.

“We are seeing explosive growth in the need for repairs and your gift will go toward that program,” Kawoczka told the BOA leaders. “Thank you so much for what you do for our community and for the partnership."

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