Friday, November 21, 2008

Liberty Bank Diversity Award

Pictured above are three happy sons and their father Alejandro Melendez-Cooper, with Chandler Howard (right), president of Liberty Bank.

Sorry Middletown -- New London was the place to be tonight, as Liberty Bank gave a reception at Conn College to bestow their eighth annual Community Diversity Award.

The award recipient, Alejandro Melendez-Cooper, is well-known to my family, since he is the executive director the Community Health Center sites in New London and Groton. But in the long list of his accomplishments and connections, I simply lost count of all the ways that he has made a difference -- Alejandro makes community involvement look as easy as breathing in and breathing out, and the few hundred people in attendance were all bursting with pride, as each seemed to count him as a close friend and comrade. {We were so sorry to find that Alejandro's wife, Maria, had just left for a long-scheduled trip -- Maria is known to many in Middletown, as she was formerly a dean at Wesleyan, before she returned to her beloved Conn College and international research work.}

Alejandro's remarks were quite funny (especially as judged by the laughter of my table-mate Patti Vassia), like when he looked out at the crowd of non-profit types and all-around-do-gooders and quipped "You know how many 501(c)3's are in the room tonight? I'll tell you -- there are more 501(c)3's than people -- that's how many!" And as is typical for Alejandro, he deflected the praise and said that he was just representing the good work of so many colleagues during his 20+ years in America.

In honor of the award, Liberty Bank made a gift of $5,000 to the Hispanic Alliance, which Alejandro founded in New London many years ago.

Before the presentations, I had a grand time talking shop with various Middletown-connected folks in the crowd, like Patti V., Tom Cheeseman, Art Meyers, Lydia Brewster, Willard McRae, Sue Murphy, Calvin Price, Sue Peters, Margaret Flinter & others.

Of course the economy was a frequent topic of conversation, along with the general consensus that locally-based Liberty Bank should fare better than its giant cousins in the banking industry. You can read as much in Chandler Howard's letter here.

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