Freedom First Federal Credit Union has won several state and national awards for helping lower income members finance automobiles and involvement in community projects.
Here is the press release from Virginia Credit Union League.
ROANOKE, VA (12/22/2011)(readMedia)– Freedom First Federal Credit Union has won 1st Place in the state Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Recognition Award Program for Credit Unions, and an Honorable Mention in the national Dora Maxwell competition. The Social Responsibility Recognition Award Program, sponsored by the Virginia Credit Union League and the Credit Union National Association, honors credit unions for their involvement in community projects and activities.
The Credit Union was recognized for a car ownership program for low-income members — Responsible Rides — which is made possible by a partnership between the Credit Union, Total Action Against Poverty, New River Community Action and Enterprise Car Sales.
The program provides the tools to bridge obstacles that low-income clients often encounter while trying to become self-sustaining members of the community. The Credit Union, which provides the car loan, leverages the collective resources of its partner organizations to provide financial education, insurance, and a dependable late-model vehicle.
With one-in-12 households in the Roanoke Valley and one-in-15 households in the New River Valley having no vehicle, the credit union and its partners recognized the challenges many low-income families face in remaining employed or in seeking a better job. In its first 18 months, the program provided vehicle financing for 72 Credit Union members, whose average yearly income was a little more than $17,600. Twenty-two program participants had no credit history, and the average credit score rated very poor.
“Although the program’s obvious goal is to provide a means of transportation, the essence of Responsible Rides is to serve them holistically, providing them a map and ‘roadside assistance’ to a better life,” says Freedom First Federal Credit Union President/CEO Paul Phillips. “One of the unique aspects of the program is that we’re also educating the program participants about insurance, car maintenance, and budgeting. Almost two-thirds of our program participants are single parents, most are women, so we understand the balancing act they face with a monthly budget.”
Freedom First Credit Union, established in 1956, is a certified Community Development Financial Institution dedicated to serving low-income individuals and communities that lack access to financial services from mainstream financial institutions. In addition to retail banking products and services, the Credit Union offers development services including community grants, student scholarships, and financial education.
The credit union boasts $252 million in assets and more than 38,600 members. Learn more about the credit union online at www.freedomfirst.com.
The competition is named after Dora Maxwell, a credit union pioneer, who worked with several organizations to improve the living standards of the poor and needy.