Before joining Kauai Government Employees Federal Credit Union (KGEFCU) as a business development officer in 2020, Chantal Zarbaugh had already been a lifelong member and a volunteer on the credit union’s marketing committee.
In her new role, Zarbaugh worked to grow membership through the credit union’s select employee group program, Lôkahi Partner. Lôkahi translates to “many hands working together.” The program enables local businesses to join KGEFCU and offer employees and their families the opportunity to bank locally.
With the pandemic abruptly curtailing tourism—Kauai’s economic mainstay—the need for “many hands working together” took on new urgency.
Relieving widespread food and nancial insecurity became Zarbaugh’s priority. “I had to pivot fast in my role,” she says.
As a Kauai native, Zarbaugh leveraged her personal ties to people, groups, and businesses to enlist partners for a relief campaign.
KGEFCU, a community development financial institution in Lihue, Hawaii, assisted in distributing $5.6 million of federal rent relief. The credit union’s community development department oversaw the coordination with state and county authorities, and Zarbaugh spread the word about the rental help through her community contacts.
Hunger became a pressing issue, and Zarbaugh spearheaded several food initiatives that alleviated need.
The local group “Feeding the Homeless with Ho’omana” put out a call for help. Zarbaugh responded by organizing donations of nonperishable food and other items.
When the group’s director called her again, explaining that a homeless camp had no food for a weekend, Zarbaugh came through again. She tapped a restaurant friend to secure pizzas and leveraged credit union sponsorship funds to purchase, cook, and pack meals.
In another emergency, Zarbaugh’s own family helped her prepare 90 meals.
KGEFCU also bought from local businesses, ranchers, and farmers during the pandemic. It partnered with Kauai Independent Food Bank to supplement those purchases and launched the “Eat. Shop. Support. Bank Local.” campaign to distribute food in reusable canvas bags.
Island morale needed a boost, too, as did music and the arts. So Zarbaugh guided the $125 million asset credit union in sponsoring virtual musical performances at its new, not-yet-opened Kilauea branch. Kauai Museum loaned artifacts to display in the Kilauea office, which itself contains a 40-foot mural depicting the history of 47-year-old KGEFCU.
Zarbaugh’s work to forge partnerships and identify community needs fits perfectly with KGEFCU’s philosophy. She is grateful the credit union “supports and allows me to create ways to help our community.”