Community Service

Maxwell Winners Honor Duty to Serve

CUs display outstanding social responsibility.

March 16, 2012
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This year’s Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award winners demonstrate outstanding social responsibility projects in their communities.

CUNA’s Awards Committee selects a first-place prize, second-place prize, and honorable mention for eight asset-size categories, as well as a chapter or multiple credit union group category.

The award recognizes initiatives such as: solving core community problems, coordinating supply drives for the needy, raising money or organizing special events for charitable organizations, or mentoring students.

"Credit unions for as long as they have been in existence have been involved in social responsibility activities for the communities they serve," says Amy Bucaida, vice president of marketing and communications for the Missouri Credit Union Association, and a member of the CUNA Awards Committee. "The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award is a way to highlight these activities and herald the good work the movement is doing for all to see."

Credit Union Magazine recently spoke with two first-place Dora Maxwell award winners: Heather Szymanski, director of marketing and business development at Space Age Federal Credit Union, Aurora, Colo., and Steve Swofford, president/CEO, and Kelley Jones, Marketing Coordinator, at Alabama Credit Union, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Steve Swofford

Steve Swofford, president/CEO, 
Alabama Credit Union

Space Age Federal Credit Union was recognized for organizing a Networking and Career Fair, exhibiting businesses with job openings for the unemployed, which also included a drawing for a resume critique session.

Alabama Credit Union won for launching Secret Meals for Hungry Children, a program that discretely slips food into the backpacks of children likely to go hungry over a weekend. Jones is the program coordinator.

Credit Union Magazine: Why is it important to offer opportunities for members and/or the local community to improve their financial well-being?

Swofford: The basic tenet of credit union philosophy is people helping people, and that extends, of course, to our members. But I think our members find [helping others too] an appropriate activity for their not-for-profit financial institution to be engaged in as well. And, if we can improve our communities we ultimately improve our credit union.

Szymanski: It allows you to serve your members on a different level and interact with them in a different way besides just the products and services you offer. It truly allows you to be a financial partner with your members and the community, and help them achieve all their financial goals.

CU Mag: What is key when working on a financial health initiative?

Kelley Jones
Kelley Jones,
Marketing Coordinator,
Alabama Credit Union

Jones: [For our Secret Meals program, it] was the manpower hours that were needed, not only to promote the program, but in some of
our areas we had to deliver the food packs. You have to consider how great the need night be. You also really need to consider what kind of commitment and financial fund raising you’ll need.

Szymanski: Remember to continually focus on who you’re trying to assist. Always keep that in the front of your mind when you’re trying to plan something out, so that you’re always meeting their needs and helping them fulfill their goals.

CU Mag: What does winning the Dora Maxwell Award mean to your credit union?

Jones: Our employees put a lot of hard work into this program, and now we’re at really a continuation stage. I think it was a great payoff
for our employees to see their hard work really got noticed by others
in the community and by our peers.

Szymanski: Winning the Dora Maxwell Award is a huge honor for our credit union. It’s a great way to show our active involvement in the community, and a great way to be a good community member, highlighting all the good things that we’re projecting out to the community. 


All of this year’s first-place Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award winners included:

  • Marinette County ECU, Marinette, Wis., for donating money to a program that uses a prescription drug box collection site to keep medications out of the wrong hands;
  • Joplin Metro Credit Union, Joplin, Mo., for cooperating with other community agencies and staff to assist victims of the Joplin, Mo., tornado;
  • General Credit Union, Fort Wayne, Ind., for raising funds for Mustard Seed Furniture Bank's Beds4Kids Program, which provided 20 children in need with a bed to sleep in at night;
  • Space Age Federal Credit Union, Aurora, Colo., for organizing a Networking and Career Fair, exhibiting businesses with job openings for the unemployed, which also included a drawing for a resume critique session;
  • Alabama Credit Union, Tuscaloosa, Ala., for launching Secret Meals for Hungry Children, a program that discretely slips food into the backpacks of children likely to go hungry over a weekend;
  • Marine Federal Credit Union, Jacksonville, N.C., for fund raising for the Hope for the Warriors program, which improves the lives of U.S. service members and families affected by injuries or death in the line of duty;
  • State ECU, Raleigh, NC., for collecting items on more than 5,000 wish lists and sending them to deployed soldiers during the holidays;
  • Western Chapter of the NC Credit Union League, Penrose, N.C., for raffling off a cleverly-designed playhouse and donating the $10,000 raised to the Eblen Charities Food for Thought program, which provides snacks for elementary school children in need.

Winning entries will be on display during CUNA’s 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference.

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