Breaking barriers: Florence Bank’s latest commercial features locals, highlights access and inclusion

  • Samantha Bertini, a ninth grade wrestler at Ludlow High School, overcomes barriers and champions even in the boy’s division, even though she weighs in at 97 pounds and is a few inches shy of five feet. She is featured in Florence Bank’s new commercial highlighting access and inclusion. Submitted photo

  • Emma Boyer-Martinez, a 7-year-old from Holyoke who lives with disabilities that make some activities more difficult for her, loves horses and riding and takes part in therapeutic lessons that help her build strength and balance even though riding can be frightening. She is also featured in the bank’s new spot. Submitted photo

For the Gazette
Published: 9/14/2022 7:09:06 PM
Modified: 9/14/2022 7:05:12 PM

FLORENCE — Emma Boyer-Martinez, a 7-year-old second grader at E.N. White School in Holyoke lives with disabilities that make some activities more difficult for her. She loves horses and riding and takes part in therapeutic lessons that help her build strength and balance, pushing past the fears she sometimes has about falling from on high.

She’s also a local star these days after being featured in a new Florence Bank commercial designed to raise awareness about access and inclusion and to inspire and encourage community members to overcome barriers and offer an assist to those who might need one.

Over a dozen local residents are featured in the spot, including a man who relies on a wheelchair and caretakers to access opportunity, and seniors and people of different ethnicities. Also featured in the commercial are several local nonprofits, such as the Therapeutic Riding Center in Holyoke, where Boyer-Martinez takes lessons, and All Out Adventures in Northampton, which promotes community health and independence for people with disabilities through outdoor recreation.

“I think the ad will resonate,” said Lisette Martinez of Holyoke, Emma’s mother. “The theme is something a lot of people can relate to, and I think it’s a great theme to focus on. There’s not just one way to be a strong person. What an important message.”

Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day said bank staff homed in on the idea for the ad after seeing so many people in the Valley staying strong, pushing through adversity and overcoming challenges, particularly in the past few years.

“In this year’s brand campaign, we decided to celebrate the overcomers — those who inspire us by their achievements, despite the challenges they face every day,” he said. “The campaign highlights that spirit and reinforces the idea that access and inclusion are essential in a community, and that even when life can be hard, we can be inspired to rise above.”

In addition to the 30-second television commercial, the campaign will be supported by radio, billboards and social media. In keeping with the bank’s brand, the new ad features custom music drawing on elements from the original Florence Bank “Always” score.

Martinez said Emma rides with three other children at the equestrian center, and there are volunteers who help offer the mix of physical and occupational therapy.

Emma said, “It’s fun to learn something new, and there’s only a little bit of scariness. One time, I almost fell off my horse, and then I caught myself.” She loves interacting with the horses and agrees with her mother that the lessons help her build confidence.

Another local resident featured in the ads is Samantha Bertini, a ninth grader at Ludlow High School. A seasoned wrestler, she weighs in at 97 pounds and is a few inches shy of 5 feet, yet she frequently champions even in the boy’s division and was the recent title winner in the 40th annual Bay State Games Wrestling Competition.

Bertini excels because she has access to broad athletic opportunity and knows how to overcome barriers with dedication.

James Soffen of Ludlow, Samantha’s stepfather, said Samantha has been wrestling since kindergarten and currently trains at five area gyms, including Team Link Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Ludlow, where Samantha’s section of the ad was filmed.

He said Samantha is drawn to learning and “being able to do things that most people can’t.” Taking part in the ad offered an opportunity for her to showcase her drive and ability to overcome the odds.

Janice Beetle owns a public relations and digital marketing firm called Beetle Press.
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