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Serving the Community JTNB recognizes employees who are volunteers

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    Jim Thorpe Neighborhood Bank employees Sally Smith, Lori Cinicola, Jay Miller, Amy Behrens and Courtney Miller volunteer in their community with the support of their employer. The Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers recently thanked JTNB employees for being difference makers. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS

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    The Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers treated Jim Thorpe Neighborhood Bank employees to a picnic at Mauch Chunk Lake Park last week because of the difference they make in their community. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS

Published July 17. 2019 10:37PM

For 46 years, Jay Miller has served his community as a firefighter for the Jim Thorpe Fire Department.

It’s not uncommon for a call to come in while he’s working at Jim Thorpe Neighborhood Bank, where he is currently employed as senior vice president and compliance officer.

When it does, Miller always has the full support of his employer to respond.

“The bank leaves me go to fire, if I’m there overnight, they leave me get some rest. I can’t ask for anything more,” Miller said.

Miller is just one of many employees at the bank who give back to their community.

The Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers recently held a picnic at Mauch Chunk Lake to recognize JTNB employees as difference makers — not only for being community bankers, but also for their charity and volunteering.

Community banks aren’t just a source of capital for working people, they support their employees who are directly involved in organizations and events in their town.

“It’s much more than banking that community banks are involved with. That’s what differentiates us from the other banks out there,” said Craig Zurn, CEO of Jim Thorpe Neighborhood Bank.

Zurn has 36 years with the bank. He often recalls the advice of former CEO Harry Hintz, who still serves on the bank’s board at age 91. When Zurn started out, Hint said he was looking for employees who were willing to be involved in their community. When Zurn started hiring employees, he made it a point to ask if they are willing to be involved in the community, and what they’re passionate about.

When a summer lunch program for students in Jim Thorpe needed volunteers, Zurn allowed his employees to work on company time to staff the event. The pastor of the church overseeing the event said the bank’s charitable spirit was rare among most businesses.

The idea for last week’s picnic came from Troy M. Campbell, chairman of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers and CEO of Altoona First Savings Bank. Part of his job is to meet with the CEOs of the 154 community banks chartered in Pennsylvania.

They also invited representatives from Neffs National Bank and First Northern Bank of Palmerton.

Instead of just meeting with CEOs, he decided to hold picnics around the state meeting with the employees. At last week’s picnic, he served up “Curve Burgers” — straight from Altoona’s minor league ballpark. He also tossed corn hole bags with bank employees as part of a tournament to raise money for the organization’s scholarship fund, which allows community bank employees to conduct continuing education.

“What they do can seem very transactional, but they are making a difference in the life of a family, an individual or a small business,” Campbell said.

Employees serving in the community:

• Amy Behrens, the bank’s executive assistant, started helping at Carbon County Friends of Animals ten years ago. She is currently the group’s director and treasurer. Friends of Animals rescues, houses, and eventually finds homes for homeless animals. While their main focus is cats, they also help dogs and the odd sheep or horse.

• Lori Cinicola of the bank’s Center Street branch is passionate about children. She volunteers with CareNet of Carbon County, a pregnancy resource center. Cinicola loves to volunteer as a face painter at church picnics, or events in downtown Jim Thorpe. When a child wants their face painted but a parent is unsure about paying for it, she’s happy to do it at no cost.

“They walk away with a smile on their face that just melts my world,” she said.

• Courtney Miller of the loan department volunteers to help the VALOR Clinic Foundation hold stand down events for people in need. The events provide food, free clothing and free haircuts for people in need. She enjoys the feeling of helping others and making them smile for the day.

“It’s amazing how many people in our community are in need, but it’s also amazing how many people are there to help them as well,” she said.

• Jay Miller is not only been a member of Jim Thorpe Fire Department since age 16, he has also been a member of borough council off and on since 1978. He serves on the county council of governments and he’s treasurer of his fire company. A career at JTNB may have been predetermined — in eighth grade he did a project where he designed a building with JTNB on the marquee.

“Who was gonna say that I would spend the majority of my life there?” he said.

• Sally Smith of the bank’s Broadway branch said it can be hard to volunteer in the beginning, but eventually you realize that you’re not doing it for yourself. Her cause of choice is Relay for Life. Over the years she has gotten many bank employees to participate as well.

“When you do all this volunteering and you see the smiles on peoples’ faces, my heart grows bigger. I’m getting more out of it than I think I’m giving,” she said.

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