Learn Financial Responsibility, Continue Tradition of Volunteerism
(June 23, 2009 – Phoenix, AZ) This past week, twenty three youth from community development credit unions (CDCUs) from across the nation gathered at the Federation’s 35th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved, held une 11-13 in Phoenix, AZ. These young people travelled to Phoenix to meet their peers from around the country and to advance their skills in financial education, community economic development, and in the management and operation of youth credit union programs.
As in past years, the Federation’s Youth Credit Union Conference began with a service-learning project. This year the project was held at De Colores, a monolingual-Spanish safe space for women and children forced to flee their homes due to domestic violence. During the volunteering opportunity, youth participants toured the site and learned about the importance of the shelter. Afterwards the youth gave back to the project by volunteering their time to repaint the center.
De Colores programming is comprised of five components; the Emergency Information and Referral Bilingual (Spanish/English) Hotline, available twenty four hour a day, seven day a week; the Crisis Program, providing families immediate safety and security from domestic violence; the Transitional Program, providing families an opportunity to begin their journey towards a violent free self-sufficient life; the Ahijado Program, providing counseling and positive interaction for children who have been victims of domestic violence; and the COMADRES Program, providing after-care service to families after leaving De Colores. De Colores is operated by Chicanos por la Causa, Inc., a community development corporation based in Phoenix.
The main focus of the Youth Credit Union Conference, however, was a day and a half of workshops where youth learned from each other and from representatives from two of the Federation’s partner organizations.
Elandria Williams of the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee focused on working with youth to understand the power dynamics in their local economies. As part of this workshop, youth discussed their experiences with issues of race and class in the economy, and how they could work to build a new solidarity economy based on the ideals of equality and community.
Thom Dellwo of Cooperative Federal CU (Syracuse, NY) spent time with the youth discussing the value of money and the importance of financial education. In Dellwo’s workshop, youth discussed how much money they believe is needed to live comfortably and the importance of sharing their prosperity with the community.
On the final day of the conference, youth participants once again played the financial simulation, Mad City Money, generously provided by CUNA. Mad City Money is designed to help youth understand the importance of managing their finances, by simulating the multitude of expenses youth might encounter later in life. This time, facilitators included game cards meant to help youth to think about the impact their lifestyles can have on to their environment and their communities.
Youth Receive Generous Gift
A highlight for many at the conference was a special musical performance by Pascua Yaqui, Native American musician and artist, Alex Maldonado, during the opening ceremonies of the 35th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved. During his performance, Maldonado blessed the attendees of the Federation’s conference with traditional song and music.
In addition to performing for conference attendees, Maldonado, who makes his own native flutes and drums, generously donated a hand-made drum to support scholarships for next year’s youth conference attendees. A drawing held for the drum, raised more than $1,000 for next year’s conference in Pittsburgh, PA.
© 2009 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.