Serendipity & Opportunity

By Gigi Hyland, NCUF Executive Director

Little did John Bratsakis, President/CEO of the Maryland and DC Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA), know when he invited me to speak at his Volunteer Leadership Conference in late October that a month later he and I would be riding around rural Carroll County, Maryland on our way to meet Heather Kuykendall, the Carroll County Farmer’s Market manager.

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Mike Gallagher, Board Member of Point Breeze Credit Union (far left), presents Carroll County, MD Farmer's Market Manager, Heather Kuykendall, a donation for repair of the market. I'm next to Heather and John Bratsakis, President/CEO of MDDCCUA, is on the far right.

It all started at the conference. I talked about the National Credit Union Foundation and what it does. I also urged the volunteers to think how their credit unions could be more strategically philanthropic. In other words, how could they look for ways to truly engage their credit unions within the fabric of their communities?

After my remarks, Mike Gallagher, Board Chairman of Point Breeze Credit Union, came up to me. He explained that the credit union had been in dialogue with the Carroll County Farmer’s Market and was trying to get them to join as a member. The association seemed to be hung up on the term “credit union.” I offered the idea to Mike to explain how the credit union is a financial cooperative, not that much different from a variety of agricultural cooperatives, other than the services it provides. Well, it worked. The Carroll County Farmer’s Market agreed to join the credit union as an association member.

Heather Kuykendall, Manager at the Carroll County Farmer's Market.

And that’s how we found ourselves riding along the rolling hills of Carroll County to meet Heather and join Mike in the presentation of a $1,500 check to Heather from the credit union as a donation to the Farmer’s Market for much needed repairs to its facility that will help the farmers display their wares.

We arrived just as Heather was pulling the coconut cakes she sells at the market out of the oven.

We talked about how the market, the vendors, and the opportunity to collaborate with the credit union to make the market an even more important part of the community.

“Point Breeze Credit Union is proud to support the small businesses of Carroll County because we are all about people helping people,” noted Mr. Gallagher.

This is a small but important example of how credit unions can look around their community, identify a need, and find ways to help make a difference.

The opportunities may crop up in the most unexpected of places!

About Gigi Hyland:
Gigi Hyland serves as the Executive Director for the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), the philanthropic and social responsibility leader of America's credit union movement. Prior to her work with NCUF, Ms. Hyland served as a Board member of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the independent federal agency created by the U.S. Congress to regulate, charter and supervise federal credit unions.

Prior to joining the NCUA Board, Ms. Hyland's career spanned fourteen years serving the credit union community as an executive, attorney and advocate. She served as SVP, General Counsel for Empire Corporate FCU in Albany, NY, VP, Corporate Credit Union Relations at the Credit Union National Association; and Managing Partner of the family law firm, Hyland and Hyland.