Ulster Savings Bank, a regional bank with a wide range of services, was originally opened in 1851 with a deposit of $120. Today, the bank has assets of approximately $734 million, 305 employees and 14 branches all over Dutchess, Greene, Orange, and Ulster counties. Ulster Savings Bank, a prime example of community banking at its best, is one of 7,000 “community banks” in the United States today; it lends to local businesses and residents, its board is made up of local people and it provides a wide range of banking services while devoting some of its resources to improving the regions in which it is located.
The full-service branches, in Gardiner, Kingston, New Paltz, Newburgh, Phoenicia, Poughkeepsie, Red Hook, Saugerties, Stone Ridge, Wappingers Falls, Windham, and Woodstock, offer free personal and business checking, online banking, mobile banking, online bill paying, remote deposits and an ATM network with no extra fees along with the regular savings accounts, commercial loans, mortgages, CDs, and debit cards.
The Gardiner branch at Ireland Corners is staffed by seven employees under the leadership of Kathy DeLano, Branch Manager. She opened the branch six years ago and has kept it focused on excellent customer service by encouraging employees to learn about their customers and create a family atmosphere. Anyone who walks into the branch is struck by the warm reception, the ready smile and the coffee machine in the corner for customers and visitors to help themselves.
The Gardiner branch has hosted a number of six-week art shows: Dolly Wodin’s quilts in November and December and, in January and early February, paintings by students of Kevin Cook, a successful local artist. Each show includes a reception involving food on specific Fridays from 12 to 2, one of the bank’s busiest times.
As part of their commitment to the community, employees have also been involved in a wide range of community events, ranging from assisting with Gardiner Day, the Heart Walk, a Cancer Walk, a fund raiser for breast cancer, and Christmas gifts for nursing home residents. Of particular significance is the branch’s celebration of Earth Day in April when the parking lot becomes a festival of food stations, booths of local, earth-friendly companies, tables of local farmers’ produce, and a broadcast location for a local radio station. The event draws people from all over the area. In addition to these activities, employees at the branch can encourage involvement in fund raising activities for their favorite causes, and there is also a modest budget for small local donations.
On a broader scale, Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation provides grants for teachers from Kindergarten to grade 12, scholarship support for college students, and grants to not-for-profit organizations in Dutchess, Greene, and Ulster counties. Since it was founded in 2001, the Charitable Foundation has supported over 122 organizations in the areas of education, housing and human services, benefitting organizations such as Family of Woodstock, the Children’s Home, the Mental Health Association of Ulster County, Hospice, the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of Kingston, the Ulster Literacy Association, and the Walkway Over the Hudson as well as local colleges and hospitals. Local organizations such as Locust Grove, Mohonk Preserve, the Phillies Bridge Farm Project, Unison Arts, and the Gardiner Library have also benefited from its support.
The Gardiner branch has grown each year in the number of households involved, the amount of deposits, and the extent of its lending. The high quality of customer service and the friendly attitude have drawn many customers from the region, as has the bank’s commitment to maintaining free personal and business checking and to remaining a local company caring about its community. Lobby hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 5:00 with Friday night open until 6:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 to 2:00 pm).