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By Jaidyn Crookston | February 01, 2022 | 6 Minute Read

Northern Bank’s Mission to Reduce Homelessness One Family at a Time

Northern Bank partners with Heading Home to help reduce homelessness
Imagine how hopeless and afraid you might feel if you had no home, no job, and weren’t able to provide for your family. Half a million Americans live this nightmare every single day, including whole families with nowhere to go. 
To help combat this need, Northern Bank partners with Heading Home, a local nonprofit that aims to end homelessness in the Greater Boston area by providing food, permanent housing, and other support services (like financial education) to families in need. 
Northern Bank’s partnership with Heading Home began in 2015, when Jim Mawn (President of Northern Bank) and Katie Gatcomb (Head of Compliance & CRA) learned about the program and saw an opportunity to make a difference. 
Since then, Northern Bank has participated in six “Up & Out” moves arranged by Heading Home, as well as other fundraisers and projects sponsored by the nonprofit. The “Up & Out” program provides permanent housing to families who have been living in homeless shelters. 
To be a recipient of an “Up & Out” project, families experiencing homelessness must go through a program that helps them learn to manage an apartment, get a job, budget, and more. Heading Home wants to set these families up for success, and making sure they’re financially literate helps them do that. 

How Northern Bank supports “Up & Out”

Heading Home arranges the apartment and all the details of the “Up & Out” moves, while Northern Bank and its employees donate furniture and home supplies, then prepare the apartment and welcome the family. 
Before employees donate items, the bank meets with the family to learn more about them. They ask them about their likes and dislikes, hobbies, favorite movies, colors, food, and more. This helps bank employees decorate the apartment and stock the fridge. The bank also asks for a wish item, usually one larger item they would love to have. One single mom asked for a white Christmas tree, so Northern Bank made sure there was one in the apartment. 
While preparing for the move, Northern Bank dedicates one floor of its building to collecting donated items. Katie uses Kadince to manage a list of what they’ve collected and what they still need. Employees can sign up to donate certain items, which they then bring to the dedicated floor. Employees can also give gift cards, which the Northern team uses to purchase any items that haven’t been donated. Eventually, everything on the list (and then some) has been marked off.  
When it comes to donating items, Katie said that bank employees love to get creative. For example, an artistic employee donated some of her artwork, and an employee who loves to bake made sure the house smelled amazing by bringing freshly made bread on the day of the move. 
To prepare for the family’s arrival, Northern Bank volunteers clean and furnish the apartment, decorate, and stock the fridge. 
Katie said, “During the first move, I didn’t know what to expect. It was a little disorganized the first time. We’ve learned since then that it’s easier to work as a crew instead of in shifts.” To make the move easier, Northern Bank has a cleaning crew, shopping crew, decorating crew, furniture building crew, and more. This ensures that every volunteer knows their job and works together toward the same goal. With this crew system, it only takes Northern Bank one day to prepare the apartment for the family’s arrival. 
On the day of the move, Northern Bank and Heading Home employees greet the family. For many employees, this is the best part of the project. To be there and see the family in their new home for the first time is a wonderful experience. A moment Katie will never forget is when one little girl saw her new room and asked if she gets to sleep on that bed every night. 
Some of the moves have been filmed, and Northern Bank shares this video with customers, employees, and social media followers. The video is even shown as part of new employee orientation and onboarding. You can watch Northern Bank’s most recent video here

How the “Up & Out” moves have helped Northern Bank

Something Katie loves about the bank’s partnership with Heading Home is that she gets to work with people in the bank she normally wouldn’t. This program helps people get to know one another and feel comfortable talking to each other. Not only does it build relationships in their community, it also builds internal relationships at the bank.  
“The first move created such a contagious event,” Katie said, “Everyone was talking about it, and everyone wanted to be involved.” This “super experience” has increased camaraderie and teamwork among bank employees and departments. 
Northern Bank’s partnership with Heading Home has enabled the bank to further its commitment to reduce homelessness for families in their community. And based on the feedback Katie has received from employees, community members, and recipients of an “Up & Out” move, they’ve already made a huge impact. 
To learn how your institution can partner with nonprofits like Heading Home, check out this article

The ideas in this article came from our webinar with Katie Gatcomb, Head of Compliance and CRA. The views and opinions shared are from Katie Gatcomb and not those of Northern Bank, Heading Home, or of any other person or organization. You can view the webinar recording here

None of Kadince, Inc., its affiliates, or its respective employees, directors, officers, and agents (collectively, “Kadince”) are responsible or liable for any content or information incorporated herein. Read full disclosure.

Jaidyn Crookston | Content Manager, Kadince

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