PHILADELPHIA (10/29/14)--Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) awarded the Circle of Honor Award to Hawaii First FCU, a native certified financial development financial institution (CDFI) in Kamuela, Hawaii.
|Laura Aguirre, president/CEO of Hawaii First FCU, Kamuela, Hawaii, accepts the Circle of Honor Award from the Opportunity Finance Network. (Opportunity Finance Network Photo)|
Hawaii First FCU, with $33 million in assets, designed and managed innovative, replicable financial products and technical assistance services, providing Native Hawaiians with access to affordable capital and loans since before Hawaii became a state, OFN said.
The credit union obtained its CDFI certification in 2007 and has also created a 501(c)3 arm to serve the community with free access to job-seeking assistance, credit and debt management, one-on-one financial counseling, and financial education workshops offered by trained and certified staff. In 2009, Hawaii First was recognized by the Credit Union National Association with the Dora Maxwell Award for Social Responsibility for its commitment to providing responsive products and services.
Hawaii First FCU's signature program, Nou Ka Hale (The Home is Yours), is the only one of its kind for Native Hawaiians to obtain and maintain residence on their native lands.
The credit union has helped 5,600 members with mortgage loans totaling $350 million. Native Hawaiians received more than 75% of the loans. Hawaii First FCU's stellar performance has led the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to document the processes, procedures and policies for duplication by other CDFIs and credit unions.
The credit union also established community resource centers (CRCs) that provided tools and resources to promote self-sustainability, such as computers and financial counseling. To ensure the success of CRCs, every Hawaii First FCU employee is a Community Development Certified Financial Counselor.
"Instead of asking, 'Why?' We started to ask, 'Why not?" said Laura Aguirre, Hawaii First FCU president/CEO, in accepting the award. "We didn't need to wait for someone else to put a community resource center in place--we could be a socially responsible credit union and make it happen right now."