Atlantic Bank, with over 100 years of service to the Greek-American community, has continued to reach out and assist the community in any that it can during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Mostly, our customers are Greek-American and from our community, the Greek-American community in the greater New York metro area, as well as some from Boston, Washington DC and even Florida,” explains Atlantic Bank President Nancy Papaioannou.
During the recent distributions of two federal assistance grants made available to local businesses to aid them during the lockdown, Atlantic Bank assisted its customers by processing their lengthy applications at its fourteen locations.
Still, the bank president remains particularly concerned about the impact the continuing New York-area lockdown is having on restaurants — many of which are owned by Greek-Americans.
“A lot of people are in the restaurant business and, as you know, the restaurant business has been very hard hit, and no one knows what is going to happen,” says Papaioannou.
“The owners are very concerned. I know that some lucky ones were approached by their landlords, who offered to reduce their rents, which is the major fixed operating expense in the restaurant business.
“But when they open, they expect that the government will also ask them to reduce the number of tables they have and to limit the distances between tables. The major question is how will they survive, and how will they pay their expenses? How will they keep the staff they have? This is a very, very difficult situation,” she notes.
The bank president also expressed her concern for the wider Greek-American community, “The Greek parade did not happen this year, and I don’t think that it’s going to happen later this year. So many organizations survive by doing events to keep the community together, and also this is how they survive financially, but no events are happening now.”
Atlantic Bank, said Papaioannou, has special connections to the Greek-American community which are not to be found at other banks.
“What differentiates Atlantic Bank from other banks is that we don’t see our customers as dollar amounts; we see our customers as human beings. We become part of their families, we go to their weddings, we go to their christenings, and we go to their parties.
“We are reaching out by calling our clients… we are working together and supporting each other, even by calling our customers and telling them that we are there for them,” added Papaioannou.
While the situation is admittedly very difficult, it is very likely that the worst of it is over.
Papaioannou reports that many Greek-Americans still expect to take their annual trips to Greece this summer. “Greek-Americans will be the first supporters to go to Greece this summer. Every person I speak to asks how are we going to go to Greece this summer, what dates are we going to Greece, and what airline is flying?,” she adds.
By remaining involved with the Greek-American community and their many clients, Atlantic Bank maintains the vital communication and social connections needed to reassure people during these difficult times.
“We go back to our community, our church, our people; and it’s very touching, especially when the world is going through such a difficult time. We are still existing, even while we try to help people and try to help the nation move forward during this pandemic,” says Papaioannou.
Despite the difficulties she may have had in maintaining her optimism during the worst days of the crisis, the bank president also knows the truth about the current situation, saying “Whatever stays down does not remain down all the time. This is going to be behind us. We will survive.”