Above: To mark its 80th anniversary, 80 employees from Georgia’s Own CU plant 80 trees as part of the Atlanta BeltLine Project, an urban redevelopment effort.
Taking care of the environment—and increasing the quality of life—is just one more way credit unions carry out the “people helping people” philosophy and serve their communities and members.
Three credit union projects making an impact on the environment are:
1. 80 for 80. Georgia’s Own Credit Union planted one tree for every year it has been serving members. In the process, the city of Atlanta has become a littler greener.
Eighty employees from the $1.7 billion asset credit union volunteered to plant 80 trees along the Atlanta BeltLine last fall. Employees contributed 240 service hours to plant the sumacs, longleaf pines, and shortleaf pines along an old railroad corridor around the city.
“The 80 for 80 event was an extremely fitting and fulfilling way to honor our 80-year heritage and declare our commitment for the next 80 years,” says Dave Preter, CEO of Georgia’s Own.
The planting was part of the Atlanta BeltLine Project, an urban redevelopment effort to provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails, and transit along the 22-mile railroad corridor.
The trees Georgia’s Own employees planted will provide environmental benefits, such as cleaner air, storm water collection, and shade for those who use the trail and surrounding green space. It also shows the commitment the credit union has to the city and its residents.
“Staff not only contributed—in a very tangible way—to an exciting new project in Atlanta—but they also had the opportunity to connect with co-workers in a different context and with a different shared purpose,” Preter says.
Preter says Georgia’s Own will organize smaller volunteer efforts to maintain the area in the future.
2. Keeping up the underpass. Employees at Sky Federal Credit Union in Livingston, Mont., have been maintaining the green space near a railroad underpass for many years.
Located across the street from the Sky Federal drive-through is Underpass Park, the green space that borders a street located under Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks. Each spring, employees at the $90 million asset credit union clean the space up to make it look pleasant for those passersby.
“We maintain that green space to keep it nice,” says Annamarie DeYoung, president/CEO of Sky Federal. “I think it’s important that staff are part of the community.”
Staff take time from their workday to maintain the area such as picking up trash, raking, and pulling weeds. The credit union provides the necessary tools, such as gloves and rakes.
The credit union, originally chartered in 1935 to serve railroad employees, put in park benches and a garbage can and also maintains the sprinkler system. The city of Livingston donates the water. The credit union hires an outside company to mow the grass because of the area’s steep incline, as well as to trim the trees, DeYoung says.
3. Cleaning the waterways. Staff at APCO Employees Credit Union are lending a hand to clean up the waterways in Alabama.
Employees from the $2.6 billion asset credit union, based in Birmingham, Ala., have partnered with Alabama Power Service Organization and its Renew Our Rivers initiative. Employees from the credit union’s 15 branches volunteer to clean up rivers at various locations in the state.
“We were thrilled to play a small part in the Alabama Power initiative that adds to the quality of life surrounding Alabama waterways,” says Caitlin Brothers, marketing director for the credit union.
Through the Renew Our Rivers initiative, which focuses on six river systems throughout the Southeast, more than 10.4 million pounds of trash has been removed from Alabama lakes and rivers since 2000. Removed trash and debris have included bottles, cans, water heaters, refrigerators, and boats.
The first clean-up APCO Employees participated in was at Weiss Lake in May, with several more opportunities scheduled this year, Brothers says.
“The employees who volunteered felt good about making an impact within their community,” Brothers says. And with so many clean-up locations available, employees could choose where they wanted to volunteer, “so they were able to contribute near where they reside and work.”