Dana Chapel joined the banking world in 1989 as a part-time teller at New England Savings Bank. She worked hard and earned several promotions at the bank, which later became part of Citizens Bank, until she found herself in a back-office job in the training department, where she missed being able to work with and help customers.
“My greatest passion is being able to give somebody that feeling of financial security, giving them the freedom to know that everything will be okay,” Chapel said.
So she re-immersed herself in the branch side of banking, and joined Chelsea Groton Bank in 2000. Today, she is assistant vice president of regional sales and service manager at the bank’s Niantic branch, doing exactly what she likes best: setting up kids with their first checking accounts, helping retirees optimize the earnings on their retirement money and doing whatever she can to assist with clients’ financial needs.
“As a mutual bank, [Chelsea Groton] exists solely for our customers and the community that we serve. When you work at an institution like that, the people and the community have to be your focus,” said Lori Dufficy, senior vice president and director of sales and service at Chelsea Groton’s Niantic branch. “Dana does that instinctively.”
A customer once wrote of Chapel, “Dana has displayed a level of service I’ve encountered few times in the past at any business.”
Outside of her work at the bank, Chapel is part of the Niantic Rotary Club; her current project is a community garden that will grow food for charity.
Chapel is co-chair of the Producing Hope One Garden at a Time initiative, which is currently establishing its first garden at the Samuel Smith House. The Rotary Club plans to donate 75 percent of all produce grown in the garden to local food banks.
“It was an idea I threw out there several years ago, but when the economy started to slide, it really brought to people’s eyes the number of people going to food banks and the need to support them,” Chapel recalled. “My passion is the health aspect of it. When you go to a food bank, there’s a lot of inexpensive foods that go a long way towards feeding a family, but they don’t encourage healthy eating habits in kids.”
Though the project is still in its early stages, Chapel is already thinking about ways to expand it.
“Visions of grandeur,” Chapel said with a laugh. “I just love to volunteer, and really I think it’s in the heart of who I am, as a nurturer, to give back, whether it’s to my family, my employer or my community.”