At Kennebunk Savings, being ‘purpose driven’ isn’t a mere marketing tagline — it’s a business philosophy that has the bank deeply rooted as an active member of the southern Maine and Seacoast New Hampshire communities.

Each year, Kennebunk Savings pledges to give 10% of its annual earnings to local nonprofits committed to helping people and causes most evident to the local community. It’s the mission behind Kennebunk’s “Community Promise” program. In addition, through their Spotlight Fund, the bank identifies a pressing issue affecting the communities they serve and supports nonprofits working to create a positive and meaningful impact on that cause. This year, the Spotlight Fund is shining a light on early childhood development; past areas of focus include substance use disorder (prevention and recovery), and food insecurity.

Community service — and community connection — are ingrained in the workplace culture, says Liz Torrance, AVP, Community Relations & Social Responsibility Manager at Kennebunk Savings. In 2019, for example, the bank’s 300+ employees volunteered for more than 10,000 hours.

For the past three years TEDxPortsmouth has been one of the organizations that benefits from Kennebunk Savings’ generosity.

“Kennebunk Savings’ support has been instrumental in our ability to take TEDxPortsmouth to the next level and get these important ideas from the stage out into our community. We are so grateful. And it helps that they are just the nicest group of people you could hope to meet,” says Anna Goldsmith, producer of TEDxPortsmouth, which is slated to come roaring back to The Music Hall in May 2022.

Torrance, who’s been with Kennebunk Savings for a little over 8 years, says TEDxPortsmouth events align perfectly with the company’s values.

“We focus on initiatives that bring social responsibility to life, it’s kind of a driving force for us, and that’s one of the reasons we’re proud to support TEDxPortsmouth, which is something that focuses on public awareness, sparking conversation and convening community. It’s a super clear fit with the things that we as an organization love to support,” says Torrance.

One example of the deeply meaningful talks at TEDxPortsmouth, Torrance recalls, came from Merrill Black, who talked about the shame of silence. “It was so touching and so real… Merrill showed how your life experience, especially when it involves trauma, can lead you to a certain dark place in life. Merrill told her story of trauma and recovery so beautifully and genuinely, I think she helped so many people.”

We couldn’t help but ask Torrance what her own TED talk about be, if she were to give one — a bit of a personality-reveal question we can’t seem to stop asking people as we get geared up for our next big event, and as we rewatch past speakers share their stories.

“I think it would be something about how the business community can be part of real, systemic change when we operate with purpose and a focus on helping our communities thrive. And working for a company with values like that doesn’t feel as much like work,” she says, noting quickly that “I know that sounds like a PR spiel.” But, as she explains her role at Kennebunk Savings, she’s found a place where her work day life is also a place where she feels like she’s able to help make a difference.

That feeling was no more important for Kennebunk Savings’ employees than during the pandemic, especially when the Paycheck Protection Program rolled out, noting that in the course of one week, the number of new loans the bank processed was equivalent to what they would normally do in one year.

“We want to help our customers get through this in whatever ways that might mean,” she said. “It’s easy to start to feel helpless, but as staff we’re in a place where our values are reflected in the larger purposes of the company, and the greater community.”

Torrance advises people who haven’t been to a TEDxPortsmouth event yet to mark their calendars each year — especially as we’re all emerging from the COVID-19 isolation. “We’re all in our bubbles, it’s so important to get out and hear diverse perspectives, and that’s what TEDx does,” she says. “It’s engaged community members coming together, getting people thinking and sparking action. TEDxPortsmouth gets people jazzed up about doing the right thing.”