Category Archives: News

Hometown Bank’s Hometown Hero for November Raises Hope and Spirits

Hometown Bank’s Everyday Hometown Hero for November is a familiar figure in her hometown of Auburn. Sheila Barter serves on the board of directors as secretary of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and sits on a number of key committees – nominating, program, school/business partnership, health and business expo, Best of Auburn contest, Auburn Cleanup Committee and the golf tournament that benefits scholarships for students at Auburn High and Baypath Regional.

But it is her work with the Auburn VNA/ Hospice, a division of the Southern Worcester County VNA, a position she has held since 1985, that puts her in a position to do what she loves most, look out for the frail, the infirm and, in some cases, the forgotten. These days, Sheila spends much of her time speaking at local senior centers explaining the ins and outs of palliative care, home health assistance and end of life programs, such as hospice care with sensitivity and compassion.

“The word ‘caring’ is one of the first words you learn when you are employed in a health care agency,” says Mrs. Barter, who has a particular affinity for helping patients undergoing cancer treatment. When she hears some local resident has been diagnosed and started treatment, she sends anonymous, inspirational cards and words of encouragement, and she is fond of handing out hand-crafted “pocket angels” to help raise people’s hopes and spirits.

She has also supported Relay for Life efforts in both Auburn and Worcester, and encouraged her grandson, Nate to adopt the charity in fulfilling his school’s volunteer requirement.

The community of Auburn is so very fortunate to have such a warm and compassionate advocate,” says Hometown Bank’s Auburn branch manager, Tina Puzo, who nominated Mrs. Barter. “We should all be so fortunate as to have a Sheila Barter in our corner to encourage us and lift our spirits!”

A donation has been made to Why Me? Sherry’s House in Mrs. Barter’s honor.

Hometown Bank is a $400 million mutual bank with branch offices in Athol, Auburn, Leominster, Oxford, South Lancaster, Sturbridge and two locations in Webster


Hometown Bank celebrates 125th Anniversary with Open House

As Hometown Bank’s 125th anniversary year draws to a close, the Bank will be holding a special Anniversary Open House at all branch locations on Thursday, November 13, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Hometown Bank has been serving local residents as a respected community bank since 1889,” said President and CEO Michael D. Hewitt. “Along the way, we’ve grown to 8 locations, including our new Leominster office, but we’ve worked hard to maintain the Hometown Bank culture that is so appreciated by our customers. We hope area residents will take advantage of this opportunity to drop by their local branch office, meet our staff and learn more about why we believe this is the way banking should be.”

On November 13, all Hometown Bank offices will be serving light refreshments throughout the day. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet staff and enter a raffle to win a $500 gift card. The event is open to the public and you need not be a customer to enter the raffle.

Hometown Bank is a $400 million mutual bank with offices at 90 Exchange Street, Athol; 569 Southbridge Street, Auburn; 9 Sack Boulevard, Leominster; 31 Sutton Avenue, Oxford; 31 Main Street, South Lancaster; 331 Main Street (Route 31) Sturbridge; 4 Gore Road, Webster, and 218 R Main Street, Webster.

Hometown Bank’s Everyday Hometown Hero for October is Athol’s Bill Kessler

OXFORD, MA – Hometown Bank’s Everyday Hometown Hero for October, Bill Kessler says the driving force behind his volunteer activities in the community of Athol over the years has been the many opportunities he’s had to help make Athol a better place.

Kessler’s connection to the town goes back about a century. His grandfather moved to Athol in 1916, where he worked for L.S. Starrett, and raised three children. In the 1950’s, Bill’s parents moved out of town and it wasn’t until years later that Kessler was drawn back to Athol to raise his own family. “Affordable housing brought us here,” he says, “but what kept us here was that it was a wonderful place for kids to grow up.”

Kessler joined the Athol Rotary in 1996, saying “I was looking for an organization that allowed me to meet other local business people and community leaders, but what I found was lots of wonderful friendships and a multitude of opportunities to help make Athol an even better place.” Like his grandfather, who served as Rotary president in 1935, Kessler is also a past president of that service organization and now serves as its membership chair.

The Athol Area YMCA, where his three sons have worked and volunteered, is of particular importance to this month’s honoree. He has just completed a 3-year term as president of that organization’s board of directors. “The YMCA provides sports activities, after school and preschool programs for local kids,” Kessler says, “and actively promotes healthy living skills, youth development and social responsibility. The organization also provides numerous summer camping and day camp opportunities for kids at Camp Selah, in Tully, MA and Camp Wiyaka, in Richmond, N.H.” Each year, Kessler chairs a dinner dance to help raise funds to underwrite membership in the organization for needy local youngsters.

In addition to the Rotary and YMCA, Kessler is a member of the Athol Chamber of Commerce and the North Quabbin Lodge of Freemasons, past president of the Chuck Stone Little League, a former Scoutmaster for Troop 8 at the Athol Congregational Church, and past president of the Athol Lions Club. “I’ve just always enjoyed helping out” he says.

At his request, a donation has been made to the North Quabbin Lodge of Freemasons Angel Fund in his honor.

Hometown Bank is a $400 million mutual bank with branch offices in Athol, Auburn, Leominster, Oxford, South Lancaster, Sturbridge and two locations in Webster. To nominate an Everyday Hometown Hero from your community, visit the Hometown Bank website at

Photo Cut Line: Hometown Bank’s Everyday Hometown Hero for October, Bill Kessler, of Kessler Investments, with Athol Branch Manager, Marc Ostberg.

Hometown Bank Grand Opening Celebration is Saturday, October 18th

LEOMINSTER, MA – Hometown Bank will mark the opening of its eighth location with a Grand Opening Celebration at 9 Sack Boulevard, Leominster on Saturday, October 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to President and CEO Michael D. Hewitt. A special ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Hosted by the North Central Chamber of Commerce, the ceremony will include greetings from area legislators, Mayor Mazzarella and other local dignitaries.

“Our staff has been working around the clock to create a welcoming environment for our new Leominster customers,” said Hewitt, “and one which reflects the Hometown Bank style of banking, where customer service always exceeds expectations and we really do know your name.” The space has been renovated floor to ceiling, with new offices, a new drive-up window, overnight drop-box and ATM.

“We are absolutely delighted to have assembled a staff comprised of local banking professionals who know Leominster and its residents,” he continued. “Our branch manager, Donna Daigle and her assistant branch manager, Cynthia Walker each have more than 30 years of local banking experience and I know they are eager to greet their customers on day one.”

During the grand opening celebration, the Bank will offer a number of special products and rates, including a Totally-Free NOW Checking promotion, two special CD promotions and a Super Money Market promotion.

Attendance is free and open to the public. Entertainment will be provided by Malik the Magician and musician Andy Cummings, with a special appearance by Johnny Appleseed, who will be on hand passing out apples to guests. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served, along with pizza from Leominster’s Espresso Pizza.

Branch Manager Donna Daigle says the event will also feature a raffle with a host of prizes, including a 42” LCD TV, three $250 Great Wolf Lodge gift certificates including an overnight stay at and a basket filled with gift cards to other Sack Boulevard merchants. “One winner will go home with the grand prize of a $1,000 gift certificate to Whitcomb Travel,” Daigle added and a number of lucky attendees will be given a chance to win money in the Bank’s Cash Cube. Raffle entry is free and no purchase is required.

“In addition, Hometown Bank will be making a $1 donation to Ginny’s Helping Hand for every raffle entry,” says Hewitt. “We are pleased to welcome this local food pantry to the family of agencies that benefit from our Neighbors Helping Neighbors program.” Neighbors Helping Neighbors is an annual fund drive conducted by the Bank each November in which it matches all donations from its customers and the community dollar for dollar to help benefit local food pantries.

Hometown Bank is a $395 million mutual bank with branch offices in Athol, Auburn, Leominster, Oxford, South Lancaster, Sturbridge and two locations in Webster.

Woodcome Appointed to Hometown Bank Board of Directors

OXFORD, MA – Edward L. Woodcome, President of Woodcome Insurance Agency, 166 Hamilton Street, Leominster, has been appointed a Director of Hometown Bank, according to Board Chair Jeanne L. Katrenak.

“We are delighted to welcome Ed to the Board as we prepare to open our Leominster branch office,” said Katrenak. “Ed has been servicing the insurance needs of Central Massachusetts for over thirty years and brings a wealth of business knowledge and expertise to the Hometown Bank team.”

Woodcome is well known in the Leominster market as an insurance expert, community activist, sportsman, golfer, friend and neighbor. In May, 2014 he was elected a Corporator of Hometown Community Bancorp, MHC. He has been married to his wife, Sue for 32 years and has three grown children.

Hometown Bank is a $395 million mutual bank with offices in Athol, Auburn, Oxford, South Lancaster and Sturbridge and two offices in Webster. The Bank is opening its eighth location at 9 Sack Boulevard in Leominster, with a grand opening celebration slated for Saturday, October 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and a special ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include entertainment, giveaways and refreshments.

Hometown Bank Announces Everyday Hometown Hero for September

OXFORD, MA – In every community, there is a go-to person who always seems to have just the right answer when you need information. In the town of Brookfield, that person is our Everyday Hometown Hero for September, Peter Martell.

For the second month in a row, our committee has selected an honoree from this small town with a population of just over 3,000. And like our August honoree, Donna Lafleur, who nominated him, this month’s Hometown Hero is heavily invested in the town’s fire department and emergency medical service.

Peter Martell pretty much exemplifies the term “public servant.” He started his volunteer service as head of the town’s Civil Defense Department at the age of 19. He went on to join the volunteer fire department and the emergency medical squad and later studied to become a paramedic. Martell is now Chief of the all-volunteer fire department, Captain of the ambulance squad and is still involved in Civil Defense, now called Emergency Management, as its Deputy Director.

According to Lafleur, “everyone knows if they need help, they can call on Peter and it will be done right. He has spent many nights alone in the station during bad weather just in case the radio goes down. He works long hours and covers for other EMTs when they are not available.” Whenever the community’s reverse 911 system is activated during weather emergencies, it is usually Peter’s voice that residents hear on the other end of the line. He also writes a column for the Brookfield Citizen, the town’s all-volunteer monthly newspaper, to keep residents informed about the fire department.
Martell helps to organize the Toys For Joy program for Brookfield and has delivered toys to area children at Christmas for many years. “He has a very generous heart,” adds Lafleur. “I have seen him checking in on families that had a loved one taken to the hospital to see if they needed anything. Pete has delivered food for patients that are housebound and has checked in on patients that just needed a little help, but didn’t want to go to the hospital. He does all of this silently, without telling anyone or asking for thanks.”

In short, Peter Martell has dedicated his life to helping the residents of Brookfield and we are all the richer for his selfless actions. In addition to the $100.00 honorarium that comes with being a Hometown Bank Everyday Hometown Hero, a donation in that amount has been made in his honor to the Brookfield Fire Department.

Hometown Bank is a $395 million mutual bank with branch offices in Athol, Auburn, Leominster, Oxford, South Lancaster, Sturbridge and two locations in Webster. To nominate an Everyday Hometown Hero from your community, visit the Hometown Bank website at

Hometown Bank Announces Staffing for New Leominster Branch Office

OXFORD, MA – Hometown Bank President and CEO Michael D. Hewitt has announced the appointment of two local banking professionals to manage the Bank’s new office at 9 Sack Boulevard, Leominster, which is slated to open in mid-October.

Donna M. Daigle, of Lunenburg, has been appointed branch manager. A banking professional with more than 30 years experience, Ms. Daigle was most recently assistant vice president and store manager for TD Bank’s Fitchburg store, where she was the winner of the 2013 CEO Leadership Award. She is a director and secretary of the Friends of the Fitchburg Senior Center, serves on the committee for the Fitchburg Civic Days and is a member of the North Central Chamber of Commerce. She may be reached by calling (508) 499-1898 or by email:

Cynthia J. Walker has been appointed assistant branch manager. A 30-year banking professional with a strong customer service orientation, Ms. Walker was branch supervisor for TD Bank’s Fitchburg store, where she was also a recipient of the CEO Leadership Award. She and her husband, Kit, reside in Fitchburg and have four children. She may be reached by calling (508) 499-1898 or by email:

“We are so happy to have Donna and Cynthia join the Hometown Bank family,” says Hewitt. “Both of these individuals are real hometown bankers, highly qualified professionals who know the community and local businesses. Being local gives them a distinct advantage in being available to listen to our customers and meet their banking needs.”

Rachel Holden, who is moving from the Bank’s Athol office, has been promoted to head teller and Jacqueline (Jacky) Scribner, of Fitchburg will be a full-time teller. Commercial lender Christina DiRusso, who has been with Hometown Bank since 2013, will be relocating her office to the new Leominster location from which she will serve all of her North Central Massachusetts customers.

Hometown Bank is a $395 million mutual bank with offices in Athol, Auburn, Oxford, South Lancaster, Sturbridge and Webster, where they also have a convenience center.

Donna M. Daigle, Branch Manager, Hometown Bank Leominster
Donna M. Daigle, Branch Manager, Hometown Bank Leominster
Cynthia J. Walker, Assistant Branch Manager, Hometown Bank Leominster

Hewitt Appointed to Hometown Bank Board

OXFORD, MA – Hometown Bank President and CEO Michael D. Hewitt has been appointed to the Bank’s board of directors, according to Board Chairman Jeanne L. Katrenak.

Hewitt joined the Bank in February, 2011 as senior vice president with more than 30 years of diverse experience in the commercial and retail banking industry. His first assignment was to oversee the merger of Athol-Clinton Cooperative Bank into Hometown Bank and conversion of its Athol and Lancaster branches into Hometown Bank branches. In May, 2013 he was appointed president and chief executive officer.

Hometown Bank is a $395 million mutual bank with branch offices in Athol, Auburn, Oxford, South Lancaster, Sturbridge and Webster, where a second convenience center is also located. The Bank is scheduled to open a new branch office at 9 Sack Boulevard, Leominster in mid-October.

Hometown Bank Names Everyday Hometown Hero for August

OXFORD, MA – Hometown Bank’s Everyday Hometown Hero for August has been a volunteer member of the Brookfield Fire Department for 21 years.

A familiar figure in the Town of Brookfield, Donna Lafleur has been involved with that town’s emergency medical service since 1977. She was Brookfield’s first paramedic and currently serves as chief of the ambulance service, an unpaid position. A passionate advocate for the community’s medical service, Ms. Lafleur is credited with helping Brookfield become the first local community with paramedic level ambulance service and with earning state approval for advanced life support (ALS) status.

Brookfield resident, Cindy Thompson, who nominated Ms. Lafleur, says the community has come to rely upon her professional and compassionate approach as a paramedic. “If you go on an ambulance call in Brookfield and Donna isn’t on duty, you may very well be asked ‘where’s Donna?’ She cares more about her patients than most of them will ever know.”

Another co-worker says Ms. Lafleur’s empathy for her patients is intense. “Having worked with Donna for 28 years,” they said, “it is not uncommon for her to have sympathy symptoms after doing a call. If we bring someone to the hospital with a migraine headache, she will usually have a headache for several hours.”

Donna’s commitment of service to her community does not stop at her involvement in emergency medical services. She was a police officer in the town for 13 years, and for 35 years she has coordinated the town’s “Toys for Joy” program in association with the neighboring town of East Brookfield. Over the years, that annual program has assured hundreds of less fortunate children in both communities with Christmas presents by collecting unwrapped toys and financial contributions.

Hometown Bank’s Sturbridge Branch Manager, Kathryn Latour has been a lifelong resident of Brookfield, where she has witnessed Ms. Lafleur’s efforts firsthand. “It is such a pleasure to be able to shine a light on Donna’s community involvement and her commitment to improving the quality of life for all Brookfield residents. We are all very fortunate to have Donna in our corner.”

A donation of $100 has been made to Toys for Joy in Ms. Lafleur’s honor. You may correspond with them at P.O. Box 575, East Brookfield, MA 01515.


Each month during 2014, Hometown Bank’s 125th anniversary year, we will select one individual to recognize as that month’s Everyday Hometown Hero. Hometown Bank will present the honoree with a check in the amount of $100 and will make a $100 donation to the local, non-profit organization chosen by the honoree. Our Everyday Hometown Hero may be anyone who is recognized by his or her community as indispensable because of the contributions they have made and continue to make. We are especially interested in identifying those individuals who work behind the scenes without much recognition, but who do so much in their own quiet way. Do you have someone in mind who you think should be recognized as an Everyday Hometown Hero? Visit our website at for a link to the online nomination form.

For Immediate Release: Hometown Bank Names Everyday Hometown Hero for July

OXFORD, MA – Gordon Cook is the kind of guy who really doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, but he’s become sort of an expert at cajoling other people to help him realize his annual goal of feeding 160 needy local families every Christmas. The Oxford man with the surname “Cook” has actually been a cook at the popular Carl’s Diner for more than twenty years, and for the last six of those he’s been running his now famous prime rib raffles every holiday season to benefit the local food pantry.

Here’s how his program works: Every Veterans Day, Cook begins selling raffle tickets. Then, almost daily, he pulls a winner for a 15 pound prime rib. As the end of the year approaches, he holds what he concludes with what he calls the “Grand Finale,” a mega drawing that includes a prime rib, plus a ham and other roasts and a number of gift cards. “This year, we’re adding a wide screen TV,” Cook smiled as he measured the imaginary TV with his outstretched hands.

When the raffles are complete, Cook uses the proceeds to purchase 160 turkeys and delivers them to the Oxford Ecumenical Food Pantry together with all the rest of the fixings assembled from local donations.

“I couldn’t possibly do it alone,” Cook demurred. “People are very, very generous. I depend heavily on Carl’s suppliers and many friends in the community who come through for me every year.”

When the turkeys are delivered and all of the bills are paid, Gordon donates the balance of funds raised to the Food Pantry, an amount that generally falls between $1,500.00 and $2,000.00.

Cook’s friend and Carl’s Diner owner, Paul Bremer nominated him for the Everyday Hometown Hero recognition. “He does this every year without fanfare, and he seeks no credit,” Bremer said. “Because of Gordy’s crusty personality, no one would ever guess the level of his effort and his generosity to the community.”

The annual prime rib raffle is his biggest venture, but it’s not Cook’s only contribution to the community. He sometimes mentors a budding chef from Project C.O.F.F.E.E., an occupational skills-based program at Oxford High School, and he is a regular participant in Clara Barton School’s annual Community Reading Day. He also encourages his two children, 12-year-old Molly and 14-year-old Evan to give back to their community, involving them in the annual raffle process.

“Gordon is exactly the kind of community volunteer we hoped to recognize with this program,” said Hometown’s President and CEO Mike Hewitt. “He even got me to commit to being a community reader next year, proving once again that it’s pretty hard to turn a guy like Gordon down.”

A donation of $100 has been made to the Oxford Ecumenical Food Shelf in Mr. Cook’s honor. You may find them at 4 Maple Road, Oxford, MA 01540 or call (508) 987-1062.