State Highway Patrol Federal Credit Union doesn’t often donate to outside organizations, but Maria’s Message proved too poignant and powerful a cause to pass up.
Maria Tiberi, daughter of a local TV sportscaster, died Sept. 17, 2013, in a distracted driving incident. Her family created the WBNS-10TV Maria’s Message Foundation to educate young drivers on the value of defensive driving.
The $62 million asset State Highway Patrol Federal in Columbus, Ohio, serves current and retired Ohio state troopers—who witness the tragic aftermath of distracted driving all too often while on the job —and their families.
So, the credit union’s CEO, Becky Landis, and its marketing and member development coordinator, Rebecca O’Brien, hatched an idea. To combat distracted driving, the credit union would donate $25 for every auto loan State Highway Patrol Federal issued during its “Lead the Way” summertime promotion. The board of directors approved, and staff embraced the cause.
In all, the credit union initiated 144 auto loans between May and August, representing more than $660,000 in new money.
In addition, Troopers for a Safer Ohio, the educational arm of the troopers’ labor union, matched the donation. This fall State Highway Patrol Federal presented a check for $7,200 to the WBNS-10TV Maria’s Message Foundation.
The credit union’s effort ties together two of the three pillars of the Unite for Good campaign: “fostering service excellence” by providing affordable auto loans; and “creating awareness” of both the credit union and an issue close to its members’ hearts.
“This was the perfect match for us,” O’Brien says. “The average Joe off the street might know a little about drivers’ education, but for many of our members it’s a main focus every day.”
The credit union’s donation went toward the Foundation’s purchase of driving simulators that will be deployed at events around the state.
“It’s not just an old-school driving simulator. It’s what really happens in that car,” O’Brien says. “Somebody is talking to you, the phone is ringing—and it tells you the consequences of your actions. They’ve had overwhelmingly positive responses from the kids who have used these.”