The heart of the corporate machine beats with compassion.

The following is from an Old Stone Corporation investor newsletter dated March 1978.

The blizzard that struck Monday, February 6, caught thousands of stranded Rhode Islanders on their way home from work… at 150 South Main, Old Stone opened its doors to the public, giving hundreds shelter, hot food, and warm blankets.

Theodore W. Barnes, President of Old Stone, made the decision early Monday evening as the snow clogged the nearby streets to open 150 South Main, our corporate headquarters building, as a shelter for the public. About sixty employees were caught by the storm and assisted in urging stalled motorists, bus passengers, truck drivers, and pedestrians to come into the building for the duration of the blizzard.

Hundreds of storm refugees streamed in. They were cold, hungry, exhausted, and concerned about their families and abandoned cars. Our guests were invited to use bank phones to call their families. A willing group of employees assembled in the cafeteria and prepared coffee urns and endless pots of soup for our unexpected visitors. Blankets, originally intended as new savings account premiums, were distributed as long as the supply lasted to help make sleeping as comfortable as possible. Tired groups of people settled in the hallways of the first and second floors and attempted to get some needed sleep.

Our third floor library was quickly converted into a medical unit and several nurses who came to the Bank for shelter volunteered to assist with the medical problems that arose… diabetics in need of insulin, individuals with heart ailments, and a young woman about to go into labor. A team of bank volunteers set out on foot to local hospitals, about two miles away, to obtain needed prescriptions.

The majority of our almost 400 storm visitors were able to make plans to leave within two or three days. Arrangements were made to organize groups headed for similar destinations, making sure that no one started off on their own. National Guard trucks aided in the evacuation process, but some people ended up walking all the way home.

Soon after the blizzard had ended, Mr. Barnes made this statement to all our employees: "The Blizzard of '78 is already a part of Old Stone's history, and I hope it's a once-in-a-lifetime event. Despite the problems it brought with it, it provided us with an opportunity to display the essence of the spirit that makes Old Stone a superior organization."

"The way our staff responded to human needs during the emergency was truly inspiring. I believe that a corporation can be profit-motivated without losing its concern for humanity. It's obvious to me that many of you share that belief… thank you all for your help."

Editor's Note

Theodore W. Barnes died on October 29, 2000.

This article last edited March 22, 2006

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