Keeping the “UNITY” in Community & Bridging DivisionsOctober 31, 2022
Bridging Divisions Through a Shared Commitment to Helping Our Neighbors
By Christopher D. Maher, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, OceanFirst Financial Corp.
We hear so much these days about the factors that divide our nation, such as views on social and political issues, that we may overlook the one thing that unites us: we are all members of some community, somewhere. And the health and well-being of our community depends heavily on the actions we take to help our neighbors overcome hardships and share in economic opportunities.
And so, it was heartening to see the tremendous participation by our employees in OceanFirst Bank’s CommunityFirst Day on October 6, 2022. On that day, we closed all our branch locations and offices at noon so that our team members could volunteer with nonprofit organizations in our communities. More than 750 Bank employees, who we call WaveMakers, volunteered their time – as well as their passion and energy – to work at nonprofit organization project sites throughout New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston.
The list of activities pursued by our volunteers on CommunityFirst Day is long, with over 100 volunteer sites supported on October 6th, but here are just a few examples of where our WaveMakers helped make a difference:
- Boys & Girls Club is an organization with a mission to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. OceanFirst employees assisted at the Long Branch site with after school activities for students including homework and play-time.
- Philabundance, a member of Feeding America based in Philadelphia, is focused on driving hunger from communities today and ending hunger for good. Twenty-five OceanFirst WaveMakers helped with sorting and packaging food for senior citizens and assembling nutrition snack kits for children or those experiencing homelessness.
- Over 1,000 coats were distributed to young people who won’t have to worry about being cold this winter – because they received a coat during CommunityFIrst Day thanks to more than 30 WaveMakers who visited 14 sites of O.C.E.A.N., Inc. and Gateway Community Action Partnership. Coats were distributed in Lakewood, Manchester, Toms River, Brick, Atlantic City, Lower Township, Woodbine, Hammonton, Buena, Smithville, Pleasantville, Egg Harbor Township, Linwood, and Bridgeton.
- Ten WaveMakers worked on home building projects with Habitat for Humanity chapters in Galloway, Atlantic Highlands, as well as at a veteran homeowner’s house in Neptune City. Another 29 employees sorted donations and stocked the shelves at Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations in Pitman, Freehold, Toms River, and Vineland.
- Fourteen WaveMakers volunteered at two women’s shelters, Dottie’s House in northern Ocean County, and 180 Turning Lives Around in northern Monmouth County.
- The WaveMakers Boston team prepared food at the headquarters of GREAT Youth and Families, a program of Housing Families. The mission of Housing Families is to ensure housing stability to strengthen individuals, families, and communities.
- At Cathedral Soup Kitchen in Camden, an organization committed to nourishing, training, and employing people as they work to end hunger, there were 7 WaveMakers on-site serving food to neighbors in need.
In total, our WaveMakers devoted over 3,000 hours on October 6th to support such vital missions as relieving food insecurity, assisting veterans, improving health and wellness, protecting the environment, aiding future generations, building inclusive communities, fostering economic empowerment, and promoting arts and culture.
It is also important to point out that CommunityFirst Day is just one of the many ways OceanFirst supports our communities. Our WaveMakers are active all year, dedicating thousands of hours to local nonprofits. In addition, OceanFirst Foundation, established in 1996 in conjunction with our initial public offering, has contributed more than $45 million to-date to charitable organizations serving our market areas.
I believe that OceanFirst’s dedication to corporate responsibility and service is so strong and enduring because we continue to honor the commitment to our neighbors that inspired the formation of our community banking organization over 120 years ago. Our team members are also guided by a shared mission:
To build relationships and financial solutions that empower clients to achieve their goals. By providing innovative products backed by outstanding service, we will achieve our vision of enhancing our commitment and responsiveness to the markets, customers and team members we serve.
There will always be differences of opinion in our society, but events like CommunityFirst Day teach us that having a shared dedication to improving the lives of those around us will keep the “unity” in community.