Eric George, VP and Lending Officer, Fleetwood Bank
Beyond community banking, tell us what you are involved with in your community.
Eric: I have lived in Hamburg for the past 35 years. I have been a member of the Rotary Club of Hamburg since March 1, 1984. During that time, I have served as President, Rotary District 7430 Treasurer and as chairperson for various committees. For the past 10 years I have served as Treasurer for our club and am a member of the Board of Directors.
I am also a member of Hamburg’s Our Town Foundation. This affiliation goes back almost 20 years. I have served on their Board of Directors and am currently a member and past chairperson of the Economic Vitality Committee.
Since I am getting closer to retirement, I have cut back on my involvements considerably. Some of my former involvements include:
- Treasurer for the Taste of Hamburg-er Festival, an annual event started in 2004 to commemorate the anniversary of the Hamburger. It has grown quickly over the years and is now a destination for hamburger lovers. It is held annually on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
- Treasurer for the Berks County Service Unit of the Salvation Army, a position I held for 25 years.
- Treasurer for the Hamburg Area Education Foundation, a post which I held for about 15 years.
- Secretary for the Berks County Bankers Association for over 20 years until the association disbanded about 5 years ago.
- Many years ago, I also volunteered my time helping to raise funds for the Kutztown University Foundation’s Annual Decision Makers Forum.
Can you share with us the reason you are so passionate about the organization(s) with which you are involved?
Eric: My present involvements and many of my past involvements are in organizations that strive to make a difference in people’s lives. Rotary does that locally thru their many community service projects and internationally through the many humanitarian efforts of the Rotary Foundation. Our Town Foundation strives to make a difference in the lives of the people living and doing business in the Hamburg Community. The Education Foundation provides enrichment through the awarding of grants to teachers and students for educational opportunities that would not otherwise be supported. The Salvation Army assists people who experience hiccups in their lives, many of which involve financial matters, and who need a little help to get over the hurdle.
All of my involvements seem to be in organizations that assist people in need. Not unlike my role as a community lender, assisting people with financial needs.
What prompted you to be a #DifferenceMaker in your community?
Eric: During most of my 40+ years in banking I have worked for community banks. I began my career with Hamburg Savings and Trust Company in 1976 shortly after graduating from PSU. Community involvement was always stressed as being a big part of the job, especially for the lenders. I guess that was the prompt.
I am also not very good at saying no – just ask my wife. If I was asked to serve on this or that, I generally said yes and once I became involved with something I tended to stick with it.
As a banker, naturally, I was usually asked to be in charge of the money and the finances. Handling cash seems to scare a lot of folks. No one wants to be responsible for the money. I’m not sure why. So, at one point I was the treasurer for 4 organizations and secretary for another.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with your community?
Eric: To look back on the things that all of these organizations did for the Hamburg community and its residents and be able to say that I helped to make those things happen. I made a difference. There’s a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of pride.
You obviously have a strong desire to give back to your community, does your volunteer work ever mix with your professional life?
Eric: It all ran together. To me it was always one and the same. The expectation for involvement was always there as part of the job, but once I got involved I quickly came to really enjoy and embrace those affiliations. I never felt that it was a burden in any way. I also came to meet many people and make many acquaintances that I probably would not have made otherwise.
You are obviously very busy, what is your favorite way to unwind at the end of the day?
Eric: Since I’m smack in the middle of the baby boomer generation, I grew up listening to the Beatles. I guess I’m a fan, not a fanatic, but their music definitely made an impression on me. So, Sirius XM channel 18 at the end of the day driving home is a good way to unwind a bit. I also enjoy reading. Mostly over the winter months when I can’t be working outside too much. And mostly fiction – action suspense novels, that sort of thing. Clive Cussler and Jeffery Deaver are master storytellers, two of my favorite authors, and its easy reading.