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Chelsea State Bank helps Chelsea Senior Center with loan

Courtesy photo. Chelsea Senior Center staff preparing Meals on Wheels.

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Teresa Beegle for the information in this story.)

During the coronavirus pandemic, Chelsea State Bank is able to assist many local small businesses with their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

The Chelsea Senior Center, a small, nonprofit business, is one such business that was able to take advantage of a PPP loan and keep many of their programs active, while adding new activities, even with stay-at-home orders.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides a variety of additional emergency relief programs for consumers and businesses, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) guaranteed through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Chelsea State Bank is an authorized lender by the SBA to administer the Payroll Protection Program,” said Chelsea State Bank President Joanne Rau in a press release.

“During April, our commercial lenders and support teams were able to complete over 300 PPP loans with a total value of over $40 million dollars. This was a very short period of time to complete both rounds of PPP funding. Because of their tireless efforts, we were able to provide quick turnaround while making the process as easy as possible for our customers,” she said.

The Chelsea Senior Center has been serving the community for over 40 years. With over 1,000 members, the staff of seven (two full-time and five part-time) didn’t miss a beat when Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order went into place.

In a typical month, the Chelsea Senior Center will have over 250 activities for the seniors in the Chelsea community area to participate in and keep active. Today, those activities are still robust – just a little different. And because the Chelsea Senior Center was able to receive a PPP loan, they are able to keep their staff on the payroll so they can provide many other resources and activities for their seniors in spite of their doors currently being closed.

The Chelsea Senior Center now has numerous activities online for seniors to explore. They also have a Zoom account for various group meetings, including their Ukulele Group and Happy Hours – sessions where seniors can interact. The center makes hundreds of wellness calls each month to make sure seniors are alright and to check if they need anything. They also send out emails and greeting cards to make contact with their members. The center has a full website of activities and resources for seniors.

“Normally we have a very vibrant center going five days a week,” said Chelsea Senior Center Executive Director Bill O’Reilly. “On March 13 we shut down all inside activities except the Meals on Wheels program. We are still preparing and delivering Meals on Wheels. It’s funny, it almost feels busier now than when we were open and having all our original activities. From the inside it’s hard to tell we are closed to the public because we are so busy.”

Promoting fellowship is a vital purpose of the Chelsea Senior Center and therefore meals are important activities. When the center is open there is a Daily Senior Café where a hot meal is served at noon for a small donation. For those seniors who are homebound and unable to join in the senior cafe lunch, Meals on Wheels will deliver a hot meal Monday through Friday and frozen meals for the weekend. However, because of the stay-at-home order, the Chelsea Senior Center is now delivering Meals on Wheels on Mondays and Thursdays with frozen meals for the other five days.

“Meals on Wheels is a big part of what we do,” said O’Reilly. “Normally we would have volunteers help with the Meals on Wheels program, but we realized it wasn’t safe to have volunteers continue at this time, so our staff pitched in and we actually do all the meal prep. There is a school district cook who prepares the meals, and the staff and I wash all the fruit and get the meals together and deliver to about 100 seniors in the area. This number is actually increasing as more seniors become homebound.

“Because these folks are homebound, we normally check in on them when we deliver meals during the week. However, to keep our seniors and our staff safe we do have to limit the interaction that we have with our homebound folks. So for everybody’s sake we had to scale back our deliveries to two days a week instead of five.”

Chelsea Senior Center Board of Directors Treasurer Ken Gietzen and Chelsea Senior Center Bookkeeper Marylee Fuchs simultaneously presented the PPP loan option to O’Reilly, and together they contacted Chelsea State Bank.

“We reached out to Chelsea State Bank and they immediately jumped onboard to help us,” said O’Reilly. “Our Commercial Loan Officer Jim Wolfington immediately got us through the process and even the Bank President Joanne Rau was calling to check and monitor our progress. It was remarkable. We started the process on a Wednesday and by the following Monday we had the funds in our account.

“When one of my counterparts at another local town’s senior center asked if we had looked into the program, I told her we already have our funds. They are with a larger bank and they were just sent forms and haven’t heard anything since. It definitely reinforces that we are partnering with the right people here in Chelsea.”

“We all pitched in to help our business customers,” said Rau. “It’s rewarding to know these funds are brought into our communities to keep our local businesses running during these difficult times. This is what community banking is all about and I am so proud of our Chelsea State Bank team.”

Chelsea State Bank and the Chelsea Senior Center have a lot in common. They are both locally grown to support the communities they serve. Chelsea State Bank has been serving individuals, families, farmers and small businesses for over 120 years.

With two branch offices in Chelsea and one in Dexter, Chelsea State Bank’s lobbies are open by appointment while offering full-service banking from their drive-thru windows. In addition, the Bank offers online banking and mobile banking where customers can open checking accounts, apply for loans and deposit checks – all electronically.

The Chelsea Senior Center has been serving the seniors in the area for over 40 years. The center is promoted as the place for the young at heart. Fun, learning and resources for seniors and their families. While the Chelsea Senior Center business offices remain open, the center is closed to visitors for the foreseeable future due to the Coronavirus situation. They are available by phone and e-mail for needed services.

“Banking with a local community bank means everything, especially during times like today,” said O’Reilly. “We always knew it was a strong partnership, but during these times it really hits home. The way they treated us and just really made it a priority to help us out showed their personal commitment to the seniors in our community.

“Chelsea State Bank knew our business and the services we offer to the community. They understand how our seniors depend on us and how important it is to keep going during these uncertain times. Because of our PPP loan, we are able to keep our full payroll and pay our rent – our center is within the old high school, so our rent helps the community, too! It’s a win-win.”

Moving to Chelsea five years ago, O’Reilly became the executive director of the Chelsea Senior Center a little over a year ago. He has a strong business background and a true entrepreneurial spirt. With a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., he has started and sold two businesses, managed a few businesses for profit and nonprofit and has sat on many nonprofit boards over the years. Most recently, the O’Reilly’s started a genealogy business 10 years ago working remotely with hundreds of clients around the world. O’Reilly’s wife now manages the business.

“Our Board of Directors and our staff are all well aware of how Chelsea State Bank has really been our guiding light though all this and it is just the latest in a very long string of actions Chelsea State Bank has done for this community we are happy to call home,” said O’Reilly. “Once again, thank you to the Chelsea State Bank team from the entire Chelsea Senior Center team.”

O’Reilly is also president of the Chelsea Historical Society, secretary for the Chelsea Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and a volunteer for a number of other activities in Chelsea.

“As a local community bank for over 120 years, the health and safety of our families and businesses have always been top priorities for us,” said Chelsea State Bank CEO John Mann. “When the PPP was first announced, as well as the second round of funding, we were buried with applications. We chose to focus on our smallest customers first because that’s where we felt the need was greatest and we didn’t want them overlooked. We want all of our customers to know we are here to help them. Because we are smaller and more nimble, we can act quickly, proactively, and decisively.”

Chelsea Senior Center

The Chelsea Senior Center’s mission is to enhance the quality of life and well-being for area seniors and their families. Chelsea Senior Center is a 501(c) 3 non-profit. For more information see and for additional news, updates, and pictures follow Chelsea Senior Center on Facebook.

About Chelsea State Bank

Chelsea State Bank is a full-service financial institution with offices in Chelsea and Dexter. The bank was formed over 100 years ago by local business leaders to provide timely financial solutions to individuals, families and businesses in the community. This tradition of community service continues today. For more information, please call 734.475.1355 or visit  Member FDIC.                                        

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