Town & Country Federal Credit Union in Portland, Maine, recently held a training session to better prepare employees to serve the local immigrant community.
Over the past decade, the Portland area has seen an influx of people from several African countries.
The $390 million asset credit union held the training, which was featured on four local television newscasts, in partnership with ProsperityME, an organization that specializes in financial education for local African immigrants.
Claude Rwaganje, executive director of ProsperityME, conducted the training. He arrived in the U.S. years ago after fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Town & Country Federal employees now are better equipped to assist asylum seekers, many of whom are in the process of obtaining visas or citizenship, to open accounts or apply for loans.
“It’s really Finance 101 from an immigrant’s perspective,” says David Libby, Town & Country Federal’s president/CEO. “First and foremost, we want to establish trust within this community. For many this is their first experience with a financial institution they can trust.”
Developing a relationship with a financial institution is critical for immigrants as they establish residency and obtain employment, he says.
Town & Country Federal has worked with immigrants in the past. Libby recalls establishing a financial relationship with an immigrant family from the Congo several years ago.
“Because of our existing relationship with this family, they came to us recently for a mortgage,” he says. “We were thrilled to be able to approve them for a loan to purchase their first home. This is an example of how being willing to help people when others may not can have a positive result for our credit union and our community. It’s a win-win for everyone.”