‘There’s Strength in Community’
GECU reps take part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Lower Dyer Community Center food pantry. From left: the Center’s Adam Gurrola, who’s also GECU’s community development liaison; GECU’s Daniel Vasquez; El Pasoans Fighting Hunger’s Victor Nevarez; GECU’s Crystal Long; El Pasoans Fighting Hunger’s Ruben Hidalgo; and GECU’s Teresa Montoya and Ruby Alvarez.

‘There’s strength in community’

Food pantry drive showcases GECU’s commitment to the DE Day of Service.

September 12, 2017

At GECU, a Credit Union Development Educator (DE) Day of Service demonstrates the organization’s ongoing commitment to development and education.

The five DEs on staff at the $2.6 billion asset credit union in El Paso, Texas, joined other employee volunteers June 7 to showcase GECU’s continued commitment to its community and the credit union principle of people helping people.

The group celebrated the grand opening of the food pantry at the Lower Dyer Community Center by donating enough bags of food to feed 100 local families.

“As credit union DEs, it’s important to us to transform our training into actionable endeavors that truly benefit our community,” says Crystal Long, GECU president/CEO.

“As part of our people helping people philosophy, we decided to expand our support of the Lower Dyer Community Center to serve families in this neighborhood with important resources they need to thrive,” she adds. “We were eager to open the food pantry and help families in our community beyond the day of service, and we’re so happy we succeeded.”

The week-long Credit Union DE Program, hosted by the National Credit Union Foundation, provides training in cooperative principles, credit union philosophy, and international development. Graduates are encouraged to commit to efforts that reflect credit unions’ people helping people philosophy.

Many other credit union professionals nationally also took part in the Foundation’s annual Day of Service on June 14.

The event is a way for DEs to transform training and teaching into community service to empower credit union members and strengthen local communities.

The program plays an “integral role” in helping GECU focus on local development needs, according to Long.

“We find that the developmental issues the program identifies affect our community day-in and day-out, and we want to be part of the solution,” Long says. “We have a strong focus on making those issues something we strive [to address] at GECU.”

Community involvement is a top priority for the credit union. Long says GECU takes financial education “to another level” through El Paso’s schools, including in-school branches where students learn important money-management skills.

“There’s strength in community, and we are a part of that strength,” Long says.

GECU is committed to helping the Lower Dyer Community Center prosper for the long term.

The organization relies on volunteers and donations to provide community services, such as an after-school program for children of all ages, free tax preparation, homeownership workshops, team sports, a summer program for kids, and a new food pantry.

“You can see how instrumental they are to this neighborhood through everyone they encounter,” Long says. “We believe in what they do and how it aligns with our mission.”