Jewish Funds for Justice, NCUF Honored for Aid to Low-Income CUs
(June 8, 2007 – New Orleans, LA) Non-profit leaders who played pivotal roles in the recovery of low-income credit unions in New Orleans and the Gulf Region were honored with “Community Impact Awards” during the 15th Annual Annie Vamper Awards Gala on Friday, June 8, part of the 33rd Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved sponsored by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (the Federation).
The Awards recognized major donors to the Federation’s Community Development Relief and Rebuilding Fund, which was established shortly after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Honorees included Jeffrey Dekro, Senior Vice President of the Jewish Funds for Justice, one of the Federation’s earliest faith-based supporters; and Stephen Delfin, Executive Director of the National Credit Union Foundation. Anne Cochran, President of the Louisiana Credit Union League, was also honored with a special award for her steadfast leadership in the face of so much adversity.
“Thanks to their generous contributions, what began as a modest collection from the Federation’s members, board, and staff grew to nearly $1-million,” said Clifford Rosenthal, the Federation’s Executive Director. “Their support allowed us to make a number of very significant grants to low-income credit unions affected by the 2005 hurricanes.”
|Jeffrey Dekro, accepting the Community Impact Award on behalf of the Jewish Funds for Justice with support from the UJA-Federation of New York.
Jeffrey Dekro was on-hand to accept the award on behalf of Jewish Funds for Justice with support from the UJA-Federation of New York, which donated $250,000 to the Fund.
“The Jewish Funds for Justice has long been aware that the Federation’s community development credit unions are the contemporary analogs to the Hebrew Free Loan Societies that helped American Jews build businesses, gain education, and create prosperous lives for their families and communities more than a century ago,” said Dekro. “Perhaps that’s one of the deepest reasons why Jewish Funds for Justice is proud to partner with the Federation in all its work. And we are especially honored, given our long experiences with disaster of all sorts, to help credit unions in the Gulf Coast that were so terribly affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”
Stephen Delfin, Executive Director of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) was also honored with a Community Impact Award. Following the Federation’s announcement that it was starting a fund to help rebuild low-income credit unions in the Gulf, the Foundation made an unsolicited grant of $150,000 to its Community Development Relief and Rebuilding Fund.
“We are proud and pleased to be able to support the Federation as a partner in disaster relief as well as other work,” said Delfin.
In addition to their support of the Federation’s Community Development Relief and Rebuilding Fund, both NCUF and the Jewish Funds for Justice also made their own grants to support the operations of community development credit unions (CDCUs) in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Relief and Rebuilding Fund Put to Work
One of the earliest grants made from the Federation’s fund was a $100,000 challenge grant to A Shared Initiative Inc. (ASII), the non-profit affiliate of ASI Federal Credit Union, for the purchase and rehabilitation of a community center in New Orleans’ devastated Upper Ninth Ward. In addition to the challenge grant, the Federation extended and made new commitments for very-low-interest loans to ASI FCU totaling $300,000.
|Stephen Delfin, Executive Director of the National Credit Union Foundation accepts his Community Impact Award.
“When ASI came to us with their plans for this community center, we knew we just had to help,” said Rosenthal. “The new center will house a number of other nonprofits as well as a shared credit union branch and we felt it embodied the very best in the credit union philosophy – it was really a no-brainer.”
During a tour of the Ninth Ward that was attended by nearly 200 CDCU practitioners, ASI FCU and ASII announced that the new community center would be named the Clifford N. Rosenthal Community Center after the Federation’s Executive Director. A related article can be found by clicking here.
The Federation also made a $150,000 10-year loan at 1% interest and a $100,000 challenge grant to the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/Hope Community CU (ECD/Hope), which will use the funds to open a new branch to serve low-income residents in Biloxi, Mississippi, one of the cities hardest-hit by the hurricanes.
Other projects supported by the Community Development Relief and Rebuilding Fund included facilities grants to Total Community Action FCU (New Orleans, LA); University of New Orleans FCU (New Orleans, LA); Prichard FCU (Prichard, AL); and Coastal Waters FCU (Mobile, AL).
The Rebuilding Must Continue
Louisiana Credit Union League President Anne Cochran was also honored for the incredible leadership she showed immediately following Hurricane Katrina.
“The past two years have not been easy for anyone along the Gulf Coast. Our families, friends and colleagues have cried together and laughed together – now we are rebuilding together,” said Cochran. “The Louisiana League is passionate about the credit union philosophy and we try to follow the example of credit unions, such as ASI and others, as we work in the community. We have experienced the outpouring of support from credit unions and leagues across the globe. Now, we are making it our mission to push our movement and our ‘people helping people’ philosophy forward more than ever, both at home and abroad.”
|Federation Board Member, Helen Godfrey-Smith, from Shreveport FCU (Shreveport, LA) and Federation Executive Director, Cliff Rosenthal, present Anne Cochran (center) with a Community Impact Award for her leadership following the tragic hurricanes of 2005.
In addition to receiving the Community Impact Award, Cochran was also given a copy of a Russian history book, written by Rosenthal. “As I got to know Anne over the past few years, I learned of her incredible work as a missionary of the credit union philosophy,” said Rosenthal. “Her work, which began with developing a professional management program for credit unions Africa, has most recently led her to do the same in Russia.”
Participants on the Federation’s Ninth Ward tour saw all too clearly how much work is still needed. This also is true for parts of Alabama and Mississippi, but nowhere quite as pronounced as in New Orleans.
Amanda Joseph, Director of the “TZEDEC” (Justice) Fund, which is now part of the Jewish Funds for Justice, and who has worked closely with the Federation’s Relief and Rebuilding Fund commented on the relationship between the two organizations. “As long-time supporters of the Federation and its member credit unions, we are honored by the opportunity to participate in such a meaningful way to support New Orleans and Gulf-Region credit unions and their members at such a critical time.” She called her organization’s relationship with the Federation “a very important and significant partnership.”
Dekro, who also spoke at the opening ceremonies of the faith-based portion of the Federation’s conference at the historic St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, challenged conference attendees to continue their work on behalf of New Orleans and their own communities. Since the hurricanes and the massive failure on the part of the federal government, “something in the life of this nation has shifted. We know thing’s ain’t like they used to be,” he said. Looking to the future, Dekro added, “We don’t want to go back. We want to go forward; we want something different. . . . It begins with us. We don’t have all the power, but we have some choices to make” to bring back these badly damaged communities.
Another major supporter to the Community Development Relief and Rebuilding Fund was the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which contributed $500,000 to help rebuild affected CDCUs.
© 2007 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.