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Financial Support Saves The Strengthen Our Sisters Organization

Support Will Prevent Foreclosure of Shelters and Save Women In Need

FAIR LAWN, NJ – April 23, 2019 For over two decades, Strengthen Our Sisters has provided shelter services to abuse victims, many of whom lack federal reimbursement, have no work experience, or were unable to leave the house because of their abuser. Recently, the future of the organization was threatened by financial hardship and the foreclosure of 6 properties. Without financial assistance, over 177 women and children would have been left without a safe place to live.

Columbia Bank and the Columbia Bank Foundation are proud to announce that they were able to save the Strengthen Our Sisters shelter from foreclosure through a charitable donation of $50,000 and by assuming a note in the amount of $250,000.  In addition, the Bank will name Strengthen Our Sisters the recipient of their Charity Golf Outing this September, where they hope to provide additional funds that will assist the organization.

The news of Strengthen Our Sisters’ hardship first came to the attention of the Bank through an article in the Record. The news story prompted Todd Malkin, a Columbia Bank Vice President to reach out to Strengthen Our Sisters.  As a result, Michael Campbell, Senior Vice President, Community Development Officer, Vice President Malkin, and Minoska Mateo, Acting Director of the Columbia Bank Foundation met with Sandra Ramos, the shelter’s director to determine their financial status and explore whether Columbia could be of assistance. They left the meeting determined to provide support. The financial assistance started with a $50,000 grant from the Columbia Bank Foundation.

Upon review of the Shelter’s financial position, the situation was much more dire than originally reported. The donation by the Foundation was not by itself sufficient to resolve the financial difficulties confronting Strengthen Our Sisters and forestall an inevitable foreclosure.  For several weeks, Columbia Bank employees researched how to save this organization.  Eugene Schwartz, Corporate Counsel, was brought into the process.  Working together with Strengthen Our Sisters, the Bank was able to determine a unique solution to the problem.  Columbia Bank assumed and recast the organization’s mortgage debt which eliminated the risk of foreclosure, saving the shelter.

“For many years Columbia Bank has admired and supported the mission of Strengthen Our Sisters,” said Thomas J. Kemly, President and CEO of Columbia Bank. “I am proud of our team’s dedication and the opportunity to save this organization.”

The Bank will provide ongoing support for the shelter through its golf outing, however, sadly, their financial hardships are far from over. In the coming weeks, Columbia Bank employees will also contribute through several internal fundraisers. All proceeds will be donated to the Strengthen Our Sisters organization.