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Abby’s House named Champion in Action in Massachusetts

Citizens Bank and NECN provide $25,000 grant, PR and volunteer support

BOSTON           (April 29, 2009) - Citizens Bank and NECN today named Abby Kelley Foster House, Inc. a Champion in Action® in Massachusetts under the category of housing. The Worcester-based nonprofit organization is dedicated to ending homelessness and empowering women with dignity and hope as they regain control of their lives.

Started in 1976, Abby’s House is one of the first overnight emergency shelters for women in the United States. In addition to emergency shelter, it provides affordable housing, advocacy and support services to homeless, battered and low-income women and their children. Abby’s House also educates the community about the issues its clients and residents living in poverty struggle with every day.

“From the critical services it offers its guests, to advocacy and community education, Abby’s House is a real Champion in Action for giving vulnerable women and children a place to call home in their time of need,” said Robert E. Smyth, President, Citizens Bank, Massachusetts. “We are pleased to join NECN in commending founder Annette Rafferty and the staff and volunteers of Abby’s House for treating each guest with dignity and respect as they rebuild their lives and move from homelessness to self-sufficiency.”

Abbys’ House is Worcester’s largest provider of affordable housing specifically designed to meet the needs of low-income women and children. It owns 78 units of affordable housing, serving more than 100 women and children each year. Residents receive counseling from advocates as well referrals to other community resources to ensure they receive the support needed to achieve the greatest possible independence.

“The critical work Abby’s House does for women and children in need in Worcester should be applauded and emulated, and it will certainly be celebrated by NECN and Citizens Bank,’’ said NECN President and General Manager Charles J. Kravetz. “We are so pleased to be able to tell the story of this life-saving, life-altering organization and of all the caring and committed people who make it a vital part of the community.’’

Abby’s House is being recognized for:
• Assisting more than 11,000 women and their children since its founding in 1976.
• Seeing the need to create additional affordable housing units in an effort to end homelessness.
• Providing emergency shelter to about 300 women and children and serving more than 6,000 meals each year.
• Offering a financial literacy program where clients learn basic financial skills and a Women’s Center that provides educational and social activities.
• Supporting survivors of domestic violence with crisis counseling either in person or over the phone. 

As a Champion in Action, Abby’s House receives:
• A $25,000 contribution in unrestricted funds from the Citizens Bank Foundation.
• Media coverage from NECN, including public service announcements, news stories and segments on other NECN programs such as NewsNight and New England Business Day.
• Volunteer support from Citizens and NECN employees.
• Public relations support.
• Promotional support highlighting the Champion in Action in all Citizens Bank branches and on its ATMs.
• Exposure on both Citizens Bank and NECN Web sites.

“This grant and the marketing support provided by Citizens Bank and NECN will make all the difference this year, as we anticipate challenging times both for the women we serve and for Abby’s House as an organization,” said Tess A. Sneesby, Executive Director of Abby’s House. “The Champions in Action award will help to sustain us through troubled times and will enable Abby’s to provide the housing and support services needed to prevent homelessness for women and children at risk. What a gift!”

Since introducing the program in 2002, Citizens has awarded $675,000 to 27 Massachusetts organizations.

To learn more about Abby’s House, please visit www.abbyshouse.org.

About Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating its seven-state branch network in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. It has 255 branches and 592 ATMs in Massachusetts.

RBS Citizens, N.A. is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $160 billion commercial bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I. CFG’s two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. CFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in about 40 states. It is one of the 10 largest commercial banking companies in the United States ranked by assets. CFG is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). 
About NECN

NECN is the largest 24-hour regional news network in the country, with 3.7 million subscribers in more than 1,050 cities and towns in all six New England states. It is a partnership of Comcast and the Hearst Corporation. The station specializes in long-form journalism, producing documentaries and extensive local and national political coverage. For more information on NECN, go to www.necn.com.