When Stacey and Tom Rogers opened the door of their Queen Creek home last summer, the last thing they expected was a visit from their credit union. Their son, Zion, had been battling two rare heart conditions, and they had set up a GoFundMe to help offset some of the expenses for a critical surgery.
The reason for the surprise visit would change their son’s life. Desert Financial Credit Union employees had come with a check for $15,000 – well above the amount the Rogers family had set out to raise in their GoFundMe.
The Rogers family wasn’t the only recipient of Desert Financial’s random acts of kindness last year.
In fact, the not-for-profit Desert Financial Credit Union was in the midst of a 2018 “Year of Giving” initiative, with a goal of investing in the community, its members and employees, and offering chances to win exceptional experiences, support education, and improve the community.
Today, Desert Financial announced it both met and exceeded its 2018 “Year of Giving” goal – an enormous $7 million – impacting thousands across its membership, and the Valley.
“The ‘Year of Giving’ was established to celebrate our name change in late 2017,” says Desert Financial President & CEO Jeff Meshey. “More than 130 grants, charity fundraisers and surprise giveaways later, we’re proud to have helped create so many special moments during our first year as Desert Financial Credit Union. Our members and the community are instrumental in our achievements as a local credit union, and giving back to them is, quite simply, the right thing to do.”
The Year of Giving mission to spread kindness didn’t stop at helping individual families like the Rogers’. In addition to raising $700,000 for Phoenix Children’s Hospital and $300,000 for Valley of the Sun United Way, Desert Financial awarded nearly $500,000 in grants, sponsorships and donations to nonprofit organizations including the Association for Supportive Child Care, the Center for Neighborhood Leadership, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona and the Arizona Animal Welfare League, among many others.
“We believe efforts like these help start a ‘Kindness Revolution’, by helping members of our community in unexpected ways,” says Cathy Graham, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Desert Financial. “Our hope is that others join in our efforts by paying the kindness forward.”
Desert Financial’s efforts were plentiful in 2018. A member – a single mother of three – received funds for car repairs to help her through a tough time. A nonprofit focused on helping students reach career goals received enough money to pay for six laptops. And in December, as part of its Fiesta Bowl sponsorship, the credit union handed out $25,000 in gift cards and surprised five non-profits with $1,000 each (which was in turn matched by the Arizona Cardinals and the Fiesta Bowl organizations).
Graham continued, “Whether giving a member a VIP experience, appreciating local teachers with gift cards, celebrating National Puppy Day with the Humane Society, or helping people like the Rogers family, the impact we felt so clearly on our members and the wider community was astonishing.”
As part of the Year of Giving, the credit union also continued its pledge to education by contributing $120,000 to Valley educators.
Graham explains, “The fifteen teachers who founded the credit union in 1939 didn’t have millions of dollars, or even thousands. They had $78.75. With that small amount, they built the foundation of who we are today, and we honor them by continuing their legacy of supporting educators.”
Though the credit union’s name has since changed and its membership opened to all residents of Maricopa, Pinal and Gila counties, Desert Financial continues to provide scholarships to deserving high school students and to assist Valley teachers.
During 2018’s Year of Giving, for example, each of the credit union’s nearly 50 branches selected a nearby school to receive a Teacher Appreciation event. Educators from each school were honored with an onsite luncheon and presented with gifts tailored to their needs, which ranged from school supplies to microwaves and refrigerators for the teachers’ break rooms.
As the new year gets underway, Desert Financial Credit Union is planning another year of impact. The organization is increasing its member giveback bonus from $5 million to $8 million, and continuing its teacher appreciation, Random Acts of Kindness, and other community-wide initiatives.
“Our Teacher Appreciation program and Random Acts of Kindness were so successful that we are thrilled and honored to continue these two programs in 2019,” says Graham. “We are also bringing back three of our four major giveaways from last year, and adding a brand new sweepstakes.”
“Giving back to the community and our membership is what Desert Financial is all about,” says Meshey, President & CEO. “On behalf of our entire organization, I thank our members and the community for allowing us to do so.”
For more information on Desert Financial Credit Union, along with interviews or images, please contact Melissa Forbes of ANDERSON Advertising & Public Relations at (702) 856-9059 or email@example.com.
About Desert Financial Credit Union
Celebrating 80 years in Arizona, Desert Financial is the state’s largest credit union with $4 billion in assets, more than 330,000 members and 48 locations across the Valley. As a not-for-profit cooperative, Desert Financial prides itself on sharing success with its members, its team and the wider community. Learn more at www.desertfinancial.com.