Soon after moving to the U.S. mainland from his native Puerto Rico and taking a job at Guadalupe Credit Union, Nelson Medina participated in the Credit Union Development Education program through the National Credit Union Foundation.
That experience dramatically altered Medina’s view of financial institutions, which he formed while working five years in a Puerto Rican bank.
“I realized that now I was helping people rather than looking for new ways to take money from them,” Medina says.
That change soon manifested itself in Nelson’s participation in the $148 million asset credit union’s efforts to aid underserved people in and around Santa Fe, N.M.
“Ninety percent of the people we serve at my branch are Hispanics, many of them without Social Security numbers or other forms of identification,” he says. “We do a lot of outreach to them. As a result, word spreads that we can help them open accounts and start them on the path to financial literacy.”
The credit union doesn’t have a big marketing budget, Medina says, so member word of mouth has been a key element in creating and sustaining community trust.
Perhaps Nelson’s finest outreach effort came earlier this year.
For the credit union industry’s global Development Educators Day of Service, he set out to raise enough money to buy 10 bikes, helmets, and locks for children who had no way to get to school or work.
“By the end of the day, with money donated by Guadalupe’s local business members and other people, we had enough money to buy 32 bikes,” he says.
Medina is a family man with two children and a wife who also works in the credit union industry.
He says it’s easy to extend the concept of family to Guadalupe. “It feels like a family here, for staff and members.”