Chelsea Provident Cooperative celebrates 125th anniversary

It wouldn’t be Broadway without a Chelsea Provident Cooperative Bank right smack in the middle of the city’s busiest street.

For it’s been 125 years that the city has been home to the well-known banking institution, having been founded on September 25, 1885, as the Provident Cooperative Bank.

Joseph Vinard, president and chief executive officer, said the bank will celebrate its 125th anniversary with various events and daily drawings beginning Monday at the bank. The cutting of the birthday cake will be held Friday (Sept. 24) at 2 p.m. Customers can take advantage of a special offer on a six-month certificate of deposit at 1.25 percent.

Vinard, his staff, and the bank’s board of directors are understandably proud of Chelsea Provident Cooperative’s status as both the oldest bank still operating in the city and the oldest business continually operating in the city.

But while they’ll take time to celebrate the bank’s legacy that now stretches into a third century (19th, 20th, and 21st), they’re not resting on their many successes. They’re looking to the future with much optimism and in fact, Vinard and the board of directors are preparing to make an historic announcement.

“We are hopefully days away from officially changing the name of the bank to Chelsea Bank,” said Vinard. “The reason is not for anything other than Cooperative is a confusing term for people – and there are no other banks that are based solely in Chelsea, so we felt that having the name, Chelsea Bank, would be a good way to honor the community and to honor the bank.”

Chelsea Provident Cooperative Bank is a mutual, state-chartered financial institution, which means that every depositor is a shareholder and has a vote at the annual meeting.

Vinard was asked why the bank, which has $49.1 million in assets, has been able to stand the test of 125 years of dramatic change in the industry that has seen other institutions either merge or simply leave the scene.

“Primarily, our bank has remained true to its community and its original charter which was to service the local community,” said Vinard. “We didn’t get caught up in the risky lending that a lot of the financial institutions have got caught up in – not just this past round, but in prior years. We didn’t go out and do things that were beyond our scope.”

Vinard said the institution has remained true to its mission as a small, full-service community bank. “Primarily what we do is we make mortgages to homeowners in the local community. We offer low-cost, mininum balance checking and savings accounts, online banking, telephone banking, and debit cards. We accept deposits from local depositors and we manage that money like it were our own. No depositor of this cooperative bank or any cooperative bank has ever lost a penny because we are not only FDIC-insured but we fully insured by the Share Insurance Fund (SIF) for all amounts over $250,000.”

Vinard directs a multilingual staff of 19 employees, 15 of which are full time. There is a board of directors that is chaired by James Carabineris and includes Janice Sikorski, who recently retired after 44 years of service at the bank, local business owner Sergio Jaramillo, retired veterinarian E. Turner Lewis, noted certified public accountant Susan Gallant, and local businessman James Hill.

Vinard is the 11th president of the Chelsea Community Provident Bank, joining a distinguished group that includes such past legendary business leaders as Irene Grzybinski at the helm of the city’s oldest bank. Ms. Grzybinski, who is believed to be the first female bank president in the state, passed away last year.

Yes, it’s been 125 years of banking excellence, but make no mistake about it. Vinard knows that banking is a competitive business.

“It’s a very competitive business,” said Vinard. “It’s hard when you have global banks and you’re competing with multi-national corporations, but we feel we can do it better.”

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