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 READING, Pa., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Meridian Bank will receive one of only 18 awards given throughout the country by the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp. for its support of neighborhood housing programs in eastern Pennsylvania.
 Lee Bowman, director of the Mid-Atlantic District of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., will present the award to Ezekiel S. Ketchum, president and chief executive officer of Meridian Bank, today at the Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Reading Inc.'s annual board meeting.
 The local organization also will receive its new charter. NHS of Reading has met all regulations and auditing procedures established by a new national chartering process.
 Neighborhood Housing Services -- in partnership with business, government, neighborhood leaders and residents -- promote home ownership, housing rehabilitation and community revitalization.
 Although Meridian works with Neighborhood Housing Services in several communities, the Reading chapter was selected to present the award because of its community development initiatives.
 "Meridian is committed to the revitalization of our communities in need," Ketchum said. "NHS brings hope to residents for a better future for their children and grandchildren through decent housing, safer streets and neighborhood pride. It empowers local communities to control their destiny.
 "And Meridian supports those efforts with financial contributions and employee volunteers."
 Dean L. Rohrbach, executive director of the NHS of Reading, said Meridian is being recognized for its hard work and dedication not only to the NHS of Reading, but also to the NHS in Allentown, Philadelphia and Scranton.
 "Community commitment starts at the top at Meridian Bank and penetrates the entire organization," Rohrbach said. "Through its aggressive involvement, Meridian has joined the crusade to offset years of indifference and neglect in our inner cities."
 Besides making financial contributions and taking an active role on the NHS of Reading board and in committees, Meridian is involved with the Homeownership Promotion. The program makes credit available to low- and moderate-income people and small businesses by using special lending criteria and waiving points, private mortgage insurance and documentation fees.
 Meridian sponsors NHS's new Home Buyers Club, which provides people with budget, credit and life skills counseling who plan to buy a home. And Meridian's Consumer Credit Committee, to which NHS makes referrals, helps people with special financing needs get loans for things such as automobiles, roof repairs and debt consolidation.
 Meridian employees also have participated in NHS's annual Operation Facelift since its inception six years ago. The two-day event targets low-income and minority neighborhoods for facade and capital improvements.
 The bank will lead a consortium of financial institutions who will lend NHS money for the Blue Whale project -- the rebuilding of a

dilapidated downtown building that, when completed, will house NHS offices and three low-income rental units.
 The award is a handcrafted, stained glass depiction of a neighborhood scene. Two such awards are being given in the Mid-Atlantic District, which is made up of 20 partnerships throughout six states.
 -0- 11/18/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Media are welcome to attend the annual board meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the House of Good Food, 140 W. Buttonwood St./
 /CONTACT: Constance Walker of Meridian Bank, 215-655-3956/

CO: Meridian Bank; Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp. ST: Pennsylvania IN: FIN SU:

MK-JM -- PH025 -- 6102 11/18/93 14:12 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 18, 1993

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