Credit Unions: The Modern-Day Michelangelo

The Perspective of Michelangelo

Michelangelo is arguably one of the greatest sculptors this world has ever seen.

He is unique among sculptors because of the perspective he had with his work. Where others simply saw a block of stone, Michelangelo saw a magnificent figurine entrapped within the stone and would carve and carve and carve until the figure was set free. Beyond skill and discipline, Michelangelo was one of the greatest sculptors because of his ability to see. It was his vision that set him apart.

In our present time, there are many people who are going through difficult financial hardships. Their situations have become like cold, hard and rocky ‘blocks of stone.’  Unemployment, chaotic spending, negative credit, bankruptcy and repossession have caused many people to feel entrapped in circumstances, resulting in shame and hopelessness.  

Now as Credit Unions, with ‘people helping people’ beating at our core, we have the opportunity to have similar eyes as Michelangelo who saw beyond the stone. We can see our members beyond their difficult financial circumstances. With eyes of confident hope, we can see our members financially recovering in the midst of despairing hardships.

As Michelangelo carved and carved and carved until the figurine was set free, we work and work and work so our members can become financially free. This is where financial education is so important. Financial Education is one of the great avenues Credit Unions use to carve away the stone of hardship. Financial education is about giving people valuable financial tools that empowers them to make wise decisions and gives them hope in the midst of despairing circumstances. Additionally, Financial Education is an expression of the Credit Union core philosophy and is extremely relevant today.

Artists at Work

Two weeks ago, a member shared with me the financial hardships she was going through. The woman said, “I am calling you for guidance. After neglecting our finances for some time, my husband and I recently took a serious look at our finances and now realize how bad of a situation we are in. We have a ton of debt, a tax lien, repossession and many collections. We are so embarrassed that we let things get so out of hand. What do you think?”

I immediately responded by empathizing with her difficulties and then acknowledged the courageous steps she took to face her finances and call me for guidance. From there we discussed financial goals and I gave her realistic perspective on what it would take to reach them. I went on to educate her about budgeting, credit reports and directed her to more resources (BECU Financial Education seminars, Free Financial Counseling & relevant websites). By the end of our conversation, the woman was encouraged, energized and had vision. She also had the confidence and tools necessary to keep moving toward her goals.

This story is a demonstration of how Financial Education can truly make a difference in the lives of people. Beyond the stones of financial hardship, we see hope for our members. By giving members financial tools we carve into difficult situations, helping them become financially free.

The Webinar Project Purpose

Now imagine with me, dream with me. What if we could reach the multitudes with Financial Education? Giving people financial tools that could truly help them: recover, grow and thrive. 

It is possible.

The Webinar Project is about Credit Unions carving into the stone. The project focuses on expanding the delivery of financial education to our members and our communities. By adding webinars to our delivery channel we reach more people with financial education. Though Webinars are not the ultimate answer in solving the financial literacy issues of today, I believe it is a giant step forward. Now is the time for Credit Unions to express who we are, by continuing to carve and carve and carve until our members and communities are financially free. With our core philosophy driving us, we truly are artists at work.