Business Helps Community

Business Helps Community

Bank lends hand in many community projects.

This is the sixth in a series of articles about the Best of Reston Award winners.

Its employees volunteer their time, its directors serve on other boards and it sponsors a number of fund-raising events. Regardless of its capacity, Access National Bank has its hand in many of the local organizations' efforts to improve residents' lives.

"We're part of the community here, and we want to help maintain the quality of life," said Michael Clarke, president and CEO of Access National Bank. He said the bank encourages its employees to be active in the community, and to serve in roles to help local populations improve their lives. Besides the satisfaction of performing a service to the community, the employees foster good business relationships. It is also a part of the bank's marketing and public relations plan. "We find it's good business. People do business with the people they know," said Clarke.

Business aside, Clarke said the bank's employees often come up to him or another supervisor to ask that the bank becomes involved with the work of a local organization. That is how Access National Bank decides what organizations to work with in the community.

"They provide a lot of support to us, in many ways," said Karen Brown, executive director of Brain Injury Services about the bank's employees. "Not only financial support, but they volunteer a lot of their time," she said. Brown said that Clarke is devoted to giving back to the community, and that devotion is evident in the daily operations of Access National Bank.

The partnership between the bank and Brain Injury Services, according to Brown, began after a mother of one of the bank's workers suffered a brain injury, and became a Brain Injury Services' client. "They really took the reins after that," said Brown. "It wasn't a matter of them just wanting to hand a check over to us. It was more hands on, they really wanted to understand brain injuries," said Brown.

Clarke said the bank has helped raise over $220,000 for Brain Injury Services through years of sponsoring golf tournaments supporting the organization.

ACCESS IS ALSO the sponsor of the golf tournament that raises money for the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, operated by Reston Interfaith. The bank works on other initiatives with Reston Interfaith, including tutoring for the youth of economically disadvantaged families. The bank is currently discussing starting an initiative to provide financial education for the local homeless population, or other people who may need such assistance.

Clarke said that Access National Bank, as a bank, believes in economic development. "The best way we can help society is to help people help themselves," he said. He added that businesses need to pay attention to every member of their community. "If we ignored low-income people, that wouldn't be good for any of us," he said.

While Access National Bank helps individual people get back on their feet, it is also involved in helping smaller businesses do so, too. "Access has always been a huge supporter of the chamber," said Marion Myers, chairman of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. She said the bank supports companies who are members of the chamber's incubator program, Inc.spire.

"They have been very helpful to our program," said Stu Miller, the outgoing director of Inc.spire. He said that among other services, the bank often provides loans and other financial services to the startup businesses who are a part of the incubator program.

While the community service seems to be self serving, Clarke said the bank's employees do not volunteer to cultivate business relationships. "They enjoy it," said Clarke, adding that the bank was thrilled to gain the recognition of being a Best of Reston Award winner.

Its employees' work is well noticed around the county. Clarke said they are involved in so many projects around the county that it is hard to come up with a list.

"They are just a great group of individuals that you like to see living in this county," said Brown.