Antinea Middleton of Affinity FCU reviews a participant’s budget sheet during the Financial Reality Fair simulation Oct. 20 at Pennsylvania CareerLink in Harrisburg, Pa. (CrossState Credit Union Association photo)

CrossState Credit Union Foundation hosts financial reality fair for individuals reentering society

October 31, 2023

The CrossState Credit Union Foundation, working in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Department Banking & Securities held a Financial Reality Fair Oct. 20, at Pennsylvania CareerLink in Harrisburg, Pa. The event welcomed over 70 individuals reentering society to learn how to build a budget and apply financial concepts to develop a strong financial foundation.

Financial Reality Fairs are practical learning simulations designed to give attendees practice in money-management and budgeting. Friday’s participants received and familiarized themselves with a career before visiting booths to build a balanced budget. Booths included housing, transportation, food, and other essential and non-essential expenses. Financial counselors reviewed participants budget selections and guided them towards additional savings or debt reduction.

“Reality Fairs are fun and educational, and they help reentrants build essential life skills,” said Christy Ulrich, regional director of the Bureau of Community Corrections. “It is refreshing to see reentrants participate in an event that will help them successfully transition from incarceration back into the community. We appreciate all the effort and donations that made this event possible.”  

“Managing and safeguarding finances can be stressful and intimidating for many people – especially reentrants,” said Becky MacDicken, outreach specialist with the PA Department of Banking and Securities. “Through events like the Financial Reality Fair, we are excited to work with our partners to give all Pennsylvanians the tools they need to make good decisions with their money and achieve financial independence.”

The specialized Financial Reality Fair built upon the Foundation’s original groundwork of hosting five simultaneous Fairs for reentrants across the Commonwealth. The Foundation is reinvigorating these community events with a variety of stakeholders in the spirit of credit union’s unique “People Helping People” philosophy. 

“We are so pleased to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to help serve folks in the reentry program,” said Sue Ward-Diorio, executive director of the Foundation. “Our credit unions were excited to provide guidance on developing a budget, but they ultimately want to support these folks as they return to their communities. This event was one of those moments where we experienced how credit unions make an impact in the community.”

Forty-three volunteers from 10 New Jersey and Pennsylvania credit unions, representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Banking & Securities, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Pennsylvania State Parole Office, Pennsylvania Treasury, PHEAA, PHFA, and Rep. Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) showed their support of financial education at the event.