Savings & Community Bankers of America challenges other trade associations to match its pioneering efforts in reaching out to needy groups in cities that host their meetings.

Over the past three years, SCBA's Housing Partners, a voluntary organization of spouses of CEOs of member institutions, has raised nearly $60,000 for housing-related charities in Washington, D.C., San Diego, Calif., and New Orleans, La. At this year's convention in Orlando Fla., Housing Partners will donate money to House of Hope, a home for runaway teenage girls in Orlando.

If a fraction of the organizations that hold conventions in a city would donate time and money to a local charity as we have done, think what it would mean. Obviously, the charity is helped, but perhaps even more, are benefits to the trade association and its members.

SCBA's unique community outreach program began in 1991 when SCBA spouses decided it was time to become more actively involved in carrying on the traditions of the industry. They formed Housing Partners.

Each year, Housing Partners selects a housing-related charity in the city that hosts SCBA's annual convention and raises funds for it during the convention. The funds come-from several sources, including a craft show staffed by spouses and stocked with hand made items they have donated. There is also an entertainment fund-raiser. This year, pianist Marvin Hamlisch will be featured, thanks to a generous contribution from SCBA's subsidiary companies. Last year in New Orleans, a standing-room-only jazz event raised the roof -- and the dollars.

Another way for members to contribute is through a newly established Sustaining Fund, which will enable Housing Partners to extend its community outreach. Response has been excellent; thousands of dollars have already been raised. Also, the Florida Bankers Association, which merged with the Florida League of Financial Institutions earlier this year, has announced it will contribute substantially to the effort.

The fund-raiser has become a vital part of the convention. It started with SCBA and our spouses group, but now everyone participates, including our subsidiary companies, the state leagues and individual institutions, which often use Housing Partners' fund-raising ideas to help groups in their own communities. These are people who go to many meetings during the year and they want something more than entertainment. They want to feel needed.

The number of people donating money and crafts and volunteering their time increases each year. Crafts range from knitted baby garments and potholders to toys. scarves, paintings jewelry. Many spouses and CEOs spend hundreds of hours crafting one-of-a-kind pieces, such as counted cross-stitch tapestries, quilts and wooden circus trains, that are eagerly anticipated each year.

The charity also contributes in whatever way it can. For example, a group of girls from House of Hope will sing at SCBA's convention. The girls will also help at the craft show.

Most of the charities selected by Housing Partners receive no government funds and rely entirely on individual private donations, For these worth organizations, Housing Partners' donation is a gift from out of the blue. "No one has ever raised that much money for us," said Mildred Krieger, co-founder

with Sister Jane Remson of "My House," a residence for homeless mothers and children in New Orleans and recipient of $35,000 from SCBA in 1993.

Housing Partners often stimulates the charities to explore other sources of funds. House of Hope recently formed a committee to attract corporate donations. "We would like to get into the corporate arena," said Sara Trollinger, president of House of Hope. "No one has done what SCBA is doing for us on a national level. We're thrilled because it will hopefully encourage other organizations to do the same."

SCBA and Housing Partners are eager to see this happen and to spread the word. Please contact Linda Holland at (508) 887-8685 or Kit Harahan at (202) 857-3138 if you are interested in learning more about Housing Partners' community outreach.

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