As a millennial involved in community outreach and an activist for credit unions I have had many discussions with young consumers about their financial services and what they value most about community. What I’ve learned is that not many people bank with a credit union because they simply don’t know the difference between us and a bank. It becomes our responsibility to build relationships with our community to help educate and communicate our financial services.
As a young professional in the credit union movement, I have been energized by the passion of people helping people and chose to keep this movement alive. In the workforce I have met dozens of young professionals who are inspired by our members’ stories. I have become inspired by the history of the credit unions we serve. Not only did I want to hear these stories to justify my dedication to the movement, but to innovate new ways to better strengthen our communities. Through these stories I have learned of financial opportunities by experiencing those with financial struggles. I want to better financially serve and hear stories from our community members to influence our future actions to better the movement. We are in a generation that experiences similar socioeconomic injustices, like our predecessors.
Early in my professional development I learned of the philanthropic outreach opportunities that Credit Unions have the potential to be a part of. I soon became a heavy advocate for the Children’s Miracle Network and the Credit Unions 4 Kids campaign. During this time I founded a non-profit community youth choir, Rendezvous, organized to influence community through fundraising efforts supporting military relief programs, Children’s Miracle Network, and other local non-profits. Through various philanthropic events I organized, I witnessed the masses of people coming together to help people. This is when I truly fell in love with the sense of community and experienced hope in social cooperatives. During my career I have represented three Nebraska Credit Unions, community boards and non-profits, and spearheaded community organizations.
My current participation in the community has equipped me with the skills, passion, and knowledge to design a project focused on bettering community involvement. As a Credit Union and LGBT ambassador and activist, I have felt obligated to take the Credit Union Movement back to is roots. In 2017 I was selected to CRASH the Governmental Affairs Conference as a representative for Nebraska young professionals in the Credit Union Movement. (https://youtu.be/Wv7PaB9PLso) During my time in Washington D.C., I spoke with members of Congress about our members needs, as well as regulatory burden on our financial cooperatives. Back in Nebraska I have taken political action in regards to LGBT rights in the workforce testifying for Legislative Bills on behalf of our community. The community of Lincoln, Nebraska came together to organize a PRIDE march that I was honored to speak at, alongside elected government officials. These special opportunities have proven to be valuable in spreading the important message of community cooperatives that has inspired me to reactivate our communities through compassionate financial services. Thus inspiring me to organize The People Project.
The People Project (https://youtu.be/iHSyxFPt17I) mission is to activate people through compassionate financial services, create innovative opportunities to strengthen our membership, and inspire community through people helping people. The overall goal is to hear stories from our communities, work with credit unions and non-profits to create innovation, and achieve stronger outreach through events and promotion. We believe that Innovative Street Outreach will breathe life into the future of our cooperatives and show that we are stronger together! Roy Bergengren, a credit union pioneer, inspired me with a powerful phrase stated during economic uncertainty. “Teaching people to help themselves has become more important in times of depression than any other time and that must be understood as our purpose.” I believe this to be a quality message from young Credit Union professionals to our communities. Through The People Project and innovative street outreach we are ready to reactivate our communities and re-energize the credit union movement.