By SARAH HUFFMAN
Ridgewood Savings Bank held a groundbreaking ceremony on September 14 to mark the opening of its new branch in the Norwood section of the Bronx at 320 East 204e Street. It replaces the old Norwood branch located at 3445 Jerome Avenue.
On May 24, a representative for Ridgewood told the Norwood News, “We are moving the agency from Avenue Jérôme because it is largely outdated and inefficient in terms of size. The representative added: “We are moving to a more modern facility. [..] to better serve our customers and the needs of our community.
The opening ceremony took place in the presence of various bank officials, elected officials from local communities or their representatives, and the new branch indeed has a clean and modern look. Associates’ offices line a wall of windows and there is also a new service counter where customers can speak to cashiers. Annie Fuentes, a customer service associate at Ridgewood, said she thought the new branch was “beautiful” and “modern”.
Ridgewood banking director Carlos Sanchez kicked off the ceremony, saying Ridgewood had been part of the Bronx for a long time and with the opening of the new branch he hoped to continue that tradition. Indeed, 2021 also happens to mark the centenary of the banking franchise.
Leonard Stekol, Chairman, President and CEO of Ridgewood, said it was an honor and privilege to work with his colleagues every day, and acknowledged their hard work to open the new branch. “With the opening of this new branch, Ridgewood Savings Bank continues to make hopes and dreams come true, and where customers can count on us for their banking needs and the many modern digital services we offer to make their lives. easier, ”Stekol said.
Mercedes Castro is assistant vice president and branch manager of the new Norwood branch and said Norwood News she was able to walk around the neighborhood and introduce herself to other business people in the area. She took advantage of the opening of the branch to officially welcome those present, in English and Spanish.
“I want to welcome you and your friends, family, neighbors and business associates,” she said. “Our team is really looking forward to working with all of you and being an integral part of this community and getting to know you better, so thank you all for being here today,” she added.
Referring to the new location, Castro continued, “It’s beautiful, as you can see, it’s state of the art.” She said the inauguration went very well and that she and her colleagues were very happy about it. “We had a very good reception from the neighborhood and the people of the region, so we are very grateful,” she said.
The branch manager explained that she has worked for other banks in the past, but said Ridgewood has been a unique and exciting opportunity for her. “I mean, it’s a company that really, really cares about the employees,” she said. “Most of them have been here for fifteen, twenty years, so that says a lot, especially nowadays. Other banks don’t really care about their staff. I couldn’t be happier, ”she said.
Meanwhile, Coven Natalia Fernández (AD 80) said she was thrilled to have Ridgewood in the community. “It’s a great welcome that we have a community bank, a bank that is used to helping communities progress, prosper and grow, and that’s what we need,” he said. she declared. “The more banks we have in our community, the more successful our employees will be. “
Representatives from State Senator Jamaal Bailey’s office and Congressman Adriano Espaillat’s office were also in attendance, both mentioning how good it was for the community to have a bank like Ridgewood in the area.
Bronx Community Board 7 District Director Ischia Bravo concurred with this advice and spoke of the financial hardships many people in the community have faced since the start of the pandemic, and how it was more important. than ever to have what she called a trustworthy party like Ridgewood available to help the community recover.
“I am glad to know that we will work together to help revitalize our trade corridor and improve banking access to a deprived neighborhood,” Bravo said. “Today I celebrate you [Ridgewood], but I hold you accountable as well, to ensure that your global mission continues to lend a helping hand now, more than ever, in our district.
Bronx Chamber of Commerce president Lisa Sorin said she was happy to hear that the bank supports neighborhoods similar to Norwood. She praised Ridgewood for her openness and expressed support for what she would do in the community.
The importance of maintaining a strong network of open bank branches in the Northwest Bronx has long been emphasized by the local community and has not been without challenges.
Norwood News previously reported a break-in and burglary in November 2020 of a Bank of America ATM, located at 3424 Jerome Avenue in Norwood. In addition to the ATM room, a Bank of America bank branch previously existed at the location but had closed a few years before the theft.
In September 2020, we also reported on a rally that was held at 94 E. Burnside Avenue in Mount Hope, as part of efforts to keep the Amalgamated Bank branch open there. More recently, as reported, Ridgewood announced on September 1 that its branch, located at 3899 Sedgwick Avenue in Van Cortlandt Village, would finally remain open. In May, the bank announced the closure of the branch.
According to Ridgewood’s website, the banking franchise was founded with the ideal of getting involved with the surrounding community. During the Great Depression, the bank’s original branch stood firm to support its customers during this difficult time. Since then, the bank has opened 35 more branches across New York City.
According to Ridgewood officials, the bank offers all Ridgewood banking services, products and community programs. “Our customers will continue to receive the same exceptional service and financial solutions that they have become accustomed to, and we will add a coin counting machine for their convenience,” said a bank representative.