For countless people, finding a passion comes by chance. When Cheshire resident Sheldon Pollock went to a community bank in Yonkers, New York, in 1958, he was simply looking to get a job coming out of college.
“I had relatives who worked at the bank,” reflected Pollock. “One day (in 1964), the loan officer gave me paperwork for a loan and said to take it to the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) to get it approved.”
Starting there, Pollock, age 82, has developed great satisfaction from helping people for the last 57 years. In 1973, he came to Connecticut to work for the North American Bank and Trust in Wolcott and then joined Ion Bank in Naugatuck.
“It is a very good thing,” stated Pollock, of getting approval for loans. “A lot of borrowers don’t understand the rules, so you need to guide them. It is good to see the accounts grow over the years.”
On Dec. 15 of last year, he was pleasantly surprised to be recognized for his work. At the Connecticut SBA District Office Annual Lenders Meeting, Pollock was announced as the District Director Award recipient.
“There was a webinar and I was listening in to it,” recalled Pollock. “When they came to the last award, I didn’t expect to hear my name.”
Pollock was told that the SBA award was recognition for going above and beyond his duty.
“During the Paycheck Protection Program, I was getting a lot of calls because they (SBA) couldn’t reach their banks,” explained Pollock. “It was very nice of them to think of me (for that honor).”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pollock was kept very busy last year. He sympathizes with people who are still struggling to keep their companies open and pay bills.
“When someone asks for a loan, you look at their ability to repay,” stated Pollock. “Right now, businesses don’t have the money to pay loans back, so you need to check their past income. That is where the SBA comes in because they can look at the collateral and help out.”
Working for Ion Bank, Pollock assisted in making over 1,700 loans (more than $170 million) since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed in March of last year. Nationwide, SBA supported $750 billion in business financing and relief in 2020.
“You had a situation where the SBA wanted loans emailed through the system at the same time, as they were getting approved. We had people working past midnight to get things going,” reflected Pollock. “It was important to keep people in business.”
Pollock has also worked in loan forgiveness, so that companies can retain their workforce.
“The applications are difficult for smaller organizations,” said Pollock. “The non-profit groups also find it hard because they are not used to doing it.”
Pollock has enjoyed making connections with business owners.
“They want to do the right thing and not lay off employees,” stated Pollock. “Ion Bank has also got a lot of new business from people. They were happy for what we did for them.”
He is also thankful for the support of his family. Pollock has had health issues during the pandemic, but has been able to stay safe by working from home for the last nine months.
“I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife, three great children, and seven grandchildren,” said Pollock. “One of my daughters works in health care and she checks on me all the time.”
After buying a house in 1975, his family moved to Cheshire a year later .
“It’s a wonderful community,” stated Pollock. “My wife worked as a teacher at the high school.”
While relieved to end a challenging year, Pollock expects people to still be cautious and careful financially to start 2021.
“For business, there has been a push for online shopping and that changes the need for retail. Webster (Bank) has said that they will close some buildings because more people are doing work online, too,” explained Pollock.