24 years of being a good neighbor

Key Bank all over Western New York take part in “Make a Difference Day” by taking time off from work to help its communities.

Area Key Bank branches in Dunkirk and Westfield helped community nursing homes this year.


In light of National Nursing Home Week, Absolut Care Activities Director Hillary Pattison honored it with the Key Bank employees this year.

Pattison appreciates Key Bank personnel taking time out of their work day to come and lend a helping hand.

“They are fabulous. The residents love it. It is so nice,” she said. “They were here last year and we all had so much fun. They (Key Bank) are a good group of people and a good amount (of residents) participate.”

Lead Teller Linda Utegg looks forward to this every year.

“We get as much out of this enjoyment as the residents do. That is why we pick this one; it is a nice one to come back to,” she said. “We have come here a couple of times, but we go to other places too. We planted flowers in the park, spent time at the library, and painted the recreation center by the soccer field. It is always Westfield related.”

Personal Banker Crystal Schrantz was really energized as she sat among a crowd of eager participants.

“This is a great turnout,” she said. “This is a real game.”

Bingo Winners included a whole family: John Mead (first- and last-time bingo winner) is the son-in-law of Mildred Timmerman (one-time bingo winner) who is the sister-in-law of Maggie Kelsey (one-time bingo winner) and the last winner of the day was Joan Ulrich who tied with Mead for the last bingo game.

They were offered Key Bank supplies as prizes and sifted through the choices until finding the right one.

Schrantz added she has been doing this for 11 years now.

“It is rewarding and exciting. I hope to do this every year,” she said. “I love it every year; this (Absolut Care) is my favorite. I love coming here.”

Branch Manger Pam Yokom has spent 25 years at Key Bank and has loved every moment of working at the bank.

“I think it (Key Bank Day) is wonderful. We meet a lot of people in the community. We get out and see customers and friends,” she said. “Everyone really supports our way of giving back to the community. I enjoy the staff – we are like a big family.”


Branch Manager Pattie Halas really got a kick out of the WCA Home residents supervising Key Bank staff while they were doing yardwork.

“We did some weeding, cleaning out shrubs, trimming bushes and picking up garbage,” she said. “We chatted with the residents on the porch who were watching us.”

Halas explained what this day means to her.

“For 24 years, Key Bank has closed its doors at noon and has their workforce go into the community and give back to it,” she said. “We pick different organizations within the area. We have worked at Circle of Love, Salvation Army, and the Library. We try to do small projects. It is always much appreciated by the community.”

The Dunkirk branch found a little nest of tiny baby bunnies while pulling weeds from the garden, and the employees as well as residents got really excited.

“The residents can watch the bunnies grow up in the garden,” Halas said.

Seven-year employee Kathy McCarthy said they all enjoy this every year.

“We always have a good time,” she said. “Every year is a good experience.”

McCarthy described finding the six baby rabbits.

“We pulled weeds out and boom – there they all were,” she said.

Two-time Dunkirk Garden of the Week winner Cynthia Webb loves to garden.

“I love the little details especially when I garden,” she said about winning garden of the week. “They give you a sign you stick in your garden for a week, and than they give it to someone else.”

Halas added no one complains about what projects are done.

“Everything was perfect timing this year. This is when people are out doing yardwork and they like the extra help. With all the rain we had, it made it much easier to weed. This is the perfect time to do weeding, because of all the rain,” she said.

Halas was happy to have Bob Wong help this year.

“We needed a strong man to help with the heavy lifting,” she added.

Key Bank encourages different branches to notify their customers ahead of time that they will be closing early to do Key Bank Good Neighbors Day.

“We try to make sure customers know we are doing Make a Difference Day a week early,” Halas said. “We don’t want to inconvenience customers.”