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Financial institutions, especially smaller community banks, seem to be on the leading edge of community investment and social responsibility. They understand that a stronger community means a stronger business and the importance of a brand that says we care.

BB&T is not a local community bank. Based in NC, it is one of the largest financial services holding companies in the U.S. with over 1,800 centers in 12 states and D.C. However, BB&T’s Lighthouse Project demonstrates that they also understand that it is critical to keep your community investments local.

The BB&T Lighthouse Project provides corporate financial support to local charities, but the decision of where to donate time and money is made in the local markets. Associates in the local branches get involved landscaping, painting, preparing meals and more. Since the Lighthouse Project began in 2009, associates have contributed more than 385,000 volunteer hours and improved the quality of life for more than 11 million people.

Chris Rolle, Orlando Market President and Senior Vice President, says that it is very unusual but very important for corporations to invest in all the communities where they operate and to let the local offices decide how to give back to their community where they live and work.

Two recent BB&T projects in Orlando are: a renovation of the Fire Safety House at the Children’s Safety Village and assistance with a new school and programs at CECO, a K-12 school for kids with special needs. The renovation of the Fire Safety House, which is used by volunteer firefighters to teach children about fire safety, allowed the associates to roll up their sleeves and really see the difference they could make.

People and businesses decide where to give based on their interests, their skills, and their connections. BB&T’s partnership with CECO was a result of a connection with a CECO board member. They provided financial and volunteer assistance to CECO as they built and set up programs for existing students and expanded their programs for high school and adult students in their new building.

Rolle is very proud of the work he and his team have done in the community. He is looking to be even more organized and strategic in their future community investment, leveraging their unique skills and network with partnerships, in-kind resources, and the time and talent of their associates to have a lasting impact in the community.

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