“Two years ago our Credit Union made the commitment to be more intentional about serving the underserved, specifically those living in poverty and immigrants. At a staff meeting I asked for volunteers who wanted to work with me to complete a needs assessment in our community so we could better assess what gaps existed for these populations. Kayleigh emailed me following the meeting and said “I hope to be included in this project. I interact with New Mainers every day and I want to be a part of making a difference.”
Over the last two years Kayleigh has volunteered over 50 hours on this project, requiring time before, during and after hours. She assisted with focus groups in the community where we invited those with lived experience to come in and share the challenges that they had with finances and financial institutions as a whole. Once we identified the top three financial gaps she then joined our community team where we invited other community organizations into the planning process to develop new products and program to serve these markets. Kayleigh’s passion shined through in every meeting, sharing her experiences and stories working with New Mainers and people living in poverty. As a committee we then held three more listening sessions, digging deeper into each of the identified gaps to gain an even better understanding of the needs. Kayleigh served as a scribe for each of the sessions and assisted with follow up conversations. She worked to build personal relationships with those who attended multiple sessions. She became a trusted source for many of these individuals, having follow up conversations with them about their accounts or general financial questions in the days following the listening sessions. These personal conversations even led to her recommending and lining up different menu options for our listening sessions that would be attractive to different cultures. Not only did she find someone to cook the meals she did all of the grocery shopping as well.
During this project, Kayleigh also took it upon herself to find ways to better communicate with members about issues they may have experienced with their debit and credit cards at the Credit Union. She started by using Google Translator to learn how to say common phrases in other languages. She then confided in those she had built relationships with to ensure she was using phrases that would make sense to New Mainers. She even utilized all her resources to find multi lingual brochures created by VISA and other financial literacy tools.
Her passion for this project grew to an even deeper passion for other projects the Credit Union worked on this past year. The City of Lewiston and a downtown organization, Healthy Neighborhoods, was awarded a $2,000,000 Choice Neighborhood grant from HUD. There was a City Council meeting planned for the approval of this plan where I had planned to speak. I put an email out to staff asking for staff to consider attending the City Council meeting. Kayleigh took time away from her young family to attend the meeting, knowing that it was a good thing for our community and would further support the work we were doing with New Mainers and those living in poverty. Not only did she attend the meeting, she attended the pre and post-meeting rally and brought additional staff along with her. Outside of the Leadership Team I did not expect any staff to attend, I was moved when Kayleigh showed up with an entourage behind her.
Kayleigh also volunteers for nearly every event that the Credit Union holds or participates in including Community Recycle Day, St. Mary’s Commit to Get Fit, the Lake Auburn Half Marathon, the 4th of July Holiday Parade, the Twin Cities Christmas Parade and more. This past summer we held a Community Block Party in conjunction with other community partners. We closed off the streets surrounding our Lewiston Branch for fun activities including a DJ, a bounce house, a dunk tank, street basketball tournaments, free food and more. Kayleigh led the charge in getting several employees to volunteer their time. Following the event, with tears in her eyes she said to me “I’m so glad I participated in this, it was so wonderful for the community. One mom approached me and said that her children had never has this opportunity before and had never jumped in a bounce house before. They couldn’t afford to go to events that cost money.”
These are just a few of the many examples of how Kayleigh embodies the Credit Union philosophy of “People Helping People.” Theodore Roosevelt said “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.” Kayleigh lives her life this way each and every day. She works to provide a better place for our community and our future.” – J. Hogan, Lewiston, Maine