Community banking is a natural fit for Willitts Mendonca, for whom civic responsibility is a way of life.
Mendonca studied economics in college and worked in state government for a short while before he joined the financial services industry at State Street. In 2004, though, he entered the community banking world, and he couldn’t be happier for it.
“It was my calling,” he said. “In addition to working with numbers and seeing businesses, I get to be involved with the community. It’s the best of both worlds.”
In his job as a commercial lender, Mendonca works with small and medium-sized businesses and business owners. In his spare time, he devotes his energy to various civic and charitable organizations. He’s a board member of the United Way of Greater Attleboro-Taunton and a member of the Taunton Rotary Club, and he’s involved in numerous local organizations dedicated to promoting Portuguese culture.
He’s also a passionate volunteer for Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts, where he is to be voted in as a new co-chair of the board in July. He enthusiastically described a recent event the oraganization hosted, which brought together about 142 high school students to compete in teams of three, acting out the roles of CEO, CFO and chief marketing officer to execute business plans.
“It just exemplified everything about the importance of the role we play in our community as mentors to future generations and future entrepreneurs. That was extremely rewarding,” he said.
Mendonca learned he’d been named a Community Bank Hero on his first day back from vacation and said he was surprised and humbled.
“Any of the stuff I do, I don’t do it for recognition,” he said.
“I’m fortunate because being in community banking, the banks play a major role, and they realize their officers and employees need to play that role, too,” he said. “Community banks are such an integral part of our community. You definitely have the opportunity to be a key player in your community, in many ways.”
Mendonca credits his parents, immigrants from Portugal, with instilling in him a strong sense of civic responsibility.
“My parents made a lot of sacrifices when they came here,” he said. “I saw them work really hard at multiple jobs to put me and my brother through school, and I do what I do because I enjoy giving back to the community and making this a better place for all of us.”
That’s a lesson he hopes to pass on to his own two daughters, ages 6 and 8.
“They ask about what I’m doing, and I tell them I do it because you have to give back to your community,” he said. “They see what I’m doing, and I think they get it.”