Newfarmer worked in credit unions for 20 years before attending DE—and she went only to placate two colleagues who had gone through the training/
“Honest-to-goodness, they hounded me for two years to go,” she says. “It changed my perspective, not just on how credit unions should act, but in my leadership role. I wanted to be more impactful in the lives of my staff and in my community.”
She believes everyone can benefit from DE, especially people in the early stages of their credit union careers. Along with Angela McCathran, CEO of Peoples Trust Credit Union, and Courtney Moran, executive director of the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, both DE graduates, Newfarmer helped develop a two-and-a-half-day intensive training course called “Leveraging the Credit Union Difference” for people who can’t attend a full DE training.
This is now part of the Cornerstone Credit Union League’s annual training lineup.
Meghan Jamison, a Member Solutions Clerk at TCCU, is actively involved with a large network of young professional credit union employees, organizing and hosting dozens of workshops and events.
Jamison, who won the 2018 Young Professional of the Year award from the Cornerstone Credit Union League, completed DE training last year.
“The empathy you learn is a huge game-changer,” she says. “I’m in collections, which is a unique role. I hear all of the bad news. Going through DE changed how I do my job. I understand that good people go through bad situations, and I let them know what services are available. It’s about trying to help without judgment.”
Melissa Burleson, TCCU business development coordinator, received the Cornerstone League’s 2017 award for Young Professional of the Year. She completed DE training in 2015.
“I originally went in thinking the issues they’d be talking about were in developing countries, not in my community. But going through DE was eye-opening. I’d been very naïve but came out realizing the importance of volunteering.”
After the training, Burleson partnered with not-for-profit and non-profit groups and focus on one of the 12 development issues each month for a year.
One month, focusing on transportation, “we partnered with a nonprofit in Denton and collected gently used and a few new bikes for those who were homeless or didn’t have transportation to and from work,” she says.
Other partnerships have resulted in TCCU employees volunteering to clean up a local lake, participating in and sponsoring blood drives, working at a local food bank, helping to plant and maintain a community garden, and raising money to buy new coats for almost 90 children.
The connections TCCU has developed with its members and neighbors in the Fort Worth community can be replicated elsewhere, too, Newfarmer believes.
“Making lives better” can be the mission of every credit union and employee, she says. "A lot of times people think getting involved is too overwhelming because they can't go away to do field work. But you don't have to go to a remote place around the globe—field work is wherever you are. Do something. If you do good, business will come.”