“My buddy was the second baseman and I was the shortstop on our American Legion (baseball) team,” Durso said. “We stayed friends long after high school, and started a baseball team that competed in a few different men’s leagues.
“When he passed, life changed for lots of people, but most importantly, for his family.”
In response to the tragedy, the now-Senior Vice President at First Resource Bank helped to organize a fundraiser, a home-run derby, to support his friend’s family. The derby was a huge success – which was no surprise, given the scope of Durso’s benevolence – and it quickly became an annual event.
After a few years, Durso and his associates began looking for more people to help. Their efforts grew exponentially until they decided to become an official charity, Homers for Hope.
Today, Homers for Hope rents professional baseball stadiums for home-run derbies, sponsors softball tournaments, and has two men’s hardball teams. More than 100 ballplayers have raised money and get to play the sport they love, all while helping a local family in need.
Families apply to Homers for Hope to receive assistance in paying their bills. Last year, the charity surpassed the $100,000 mark in lifetime aid for local families, and it was all raised in small donations by ballplayers and some generous corporate sponsors.
“We never could have done that without amazing people,” said Durso, a Roxborough native. “The people in and around Homers for Hope are just incredible.”
Durso’s philanthropic efforts in the community extend beyond his involvement with Homers. He’s also the chairman of the Main Line Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the charitable arm of the Main Line Chamber of Commerce.
The foundation raises money for educational purposes, but mainly for volunteer first-responders who are looking to gain post-secondary education.
“These men and women are superheroes,” Durso said. “The least we all can do is support them in their effort to earn a degree.”
Another program the foundation – which is on pace to give out $50,000 in scholarships this year – supports is PA Free Enterprise Week, the chamber’s leadership program.
Durso has also served as chairman of the Ardmore Initiative, a business improvement association that uses tax assessment funds, grants, and donations for improving and marketing businesses in Ardmore.
In 2010, a massive snowstorm hit Ardmore, dealing a harsh blow to downtown businesses already struggling through the aftermath of the Great Recession. The businesses sought help from the initiative, and Durso came up with a plan.
The initiative sponsored Ardmore Downtown Dollars, a currency good at participating retailers. People bought the Downtown Dollars directly from the initiative at half of their face value, and spent them at local shops and restaurants. The initiative then bought the Downtown Dollars back at full value.
The additional spending was a much-needed boon for businesses in Ardmore.
“Our money was being accepted at just about every business in town,” Durso said. “It ended up helping tons of people on both sides of the cash register.”
Durso’s passion for philanthropy can be traced back to his college years. He graduated from Eastern University with a degree in Organizational Leadership.
“Everything I learned there impacts how I go about things,” said Durso. “It was a great experience and helped me to understand that we were put here to help others.”
After working for a few different banks, he joined First Resource Bank, where he is SVP and Chief Retail Banking Officer.
First Resource, like Durso, is heavily involved in community outreach. In its last six years alone, the bank has donated more than $1 million to Chester County schools and charities.
“I was honored to join the team at First Resource,” Durso said. “This is a place that truly understands what a bank means to the community. It’s right up my alley.”
Sounds like Durso and First Resource are the perfect match.