Despite the pandemic, it’s been a busy year for one East Setauket resident.
Hope Kinney took over the reins as president of the Rotary Club of Stony Brook July 1. Many in the area know her as branch manager at Investors Bank, formerly Gold Coast Bank, at its Setauket location on Route 25A.
Kinney said she was nominated president at the Rotary’s holiday party, and so far 2020 has been an interesting one for the club. Members have been going about business differently due to the ongoing pandemic with Zoom meetings, and most recently, holding a socially distanced lunch. Rotary members have been working on ways to keep up with their fundraising efforts after having to cancel events such as their annual spring pancake breakfast at the Setauket Fire Department’s main station.
The new Rotary president said next month the group will host a virtual online fundraiser for the Port Jefferson-based nonprofit Give Kids Hope, which provides food and clothing for local residents in need. The Rotary is also working on an idea for an online fundraiser in November and is looking for another nonprofit to help.
“It’s challenging to try to raise money in a way that we would normally do,” Kinney said, adding that members have been trying to be creative.
She said they are also working on possible socially distanced activities for the near future such as a lunch with Tri-Spy Tours of Setauket and a clambake in September.
The Rotary president said the members are working with Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) to come up with more ideas to get involved in the community and with the Stony Brook University Rotaract Club. Earlier this year, Hahn nominated Kinney for Suffolk County Woman of Distinction in the 5th Legislative District.
In the nomination letter, Hahn listed Kinney’s contributions to the community. In addition to the Rotary Club, the legislator cited the East Setauket resident’s involvement in the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, the Walk for Beauty committee, the Three Village Industry Advisory Board, the Three Village Kiwanis Club and the Long Island Museum.
“Ms. Kinney has dedicated her time, efforts and influence toward encouraging local businesses to thrive while also volunteering on many local boards serving as both a member and leader and lending her voice and expertise to making community events happen,” Hahn wrote.
In the letter, the legislator listed Kinney’s accomplishments such as her working on the career fair at Ward Melville High School with the 3V industry advisory board, and helping on the Three Village Electric Holiday Parade with the Kiwanis Club, among others.
“She is an inspiration to us all, dedicating so much of her time and energy into making our hometown a better place,” Hahn wrote. “With only 24 hours a day, Ms. Kinney has donated hundreds of hours to community service and continues to give to her community each day in any way she can.”
“She is an inspiration to us all dedicating so much of her time and energy into making our hometown a better place.”
— Kara Hahn
In 2020, Kinney also became a member of the Three Village Community Trust board, and in addition to her volunteer work, she has been busier than ever at the bank. Gold Coast merged with Investors, and the staff has been helping local business owners acquire the recent Paycheck Protection Program loans.
She said dealing with the PPP loans was a huge undertaking, but everyone who applied at the bank got the loan.
“It was a relief to help the community, that was my goal,” she said. “I felt an obligation. I need to make sure everyone gets this loan which is going to be forgiven for most people. It was challenging. It was long days and weekends, but for everybody we accomplished what we set out to do.”
She said Investors Bank recently held an online concert fundraiser where Investors donated $25 for every employee who viewed it and $10 for every family member. Kinney said one of the benefactors of the fundraiser was St. James R.C. Church, raising $3,000 for a stove for their soup kitchen. The bank recently also donated $100,000 to Stony Brook University Hospital and hopes to be able to make a check presentation soon. Kinney said she feels lucky to be part of a business that helps her local community.
Kinney started her banking career at Capital One in 2004. When the bank had layoffs in 2018, she was recruited by John Tsunis, Gold Coast’s founder, as branch manager. Tsunis described her as an extrovert with a good personality.
“She’s very interested in working with the community,” Tsunis said. “That’s a big positive as far as I’m concerned.”
Kinney juggles her career and volunteerism with spending time with her family, which includes her husband, Joseph, and three children Justin, Michael and Rachel. To handle all her responsibilities, she said she tries to stay organized and not get overwhelmed.
“I take it day by day,” Kinney said. “I put it on the calendar, and I’m able to look at the calendar and then I go day by day … I guess that’s the secret — work with each day.”