Andrew Guinn is a graduate student in UNC’s Department of City and Regional Planning and a CCP intern working in Caswell and Lenoir Counties.
The Greater Kinston Credit Union was established in 1952 with the foundational goal of assisting Lenoir County’s underserved populations. Today, almost sixty years later, GKCU continues striving to fulfill this goal, though on a much larger scale. The credit union has expanded into Pitt, Craven, Greene and Jones Counties, providing services to more than 5,000 members and maintaining over $11,000,000 in assets (compared to $301.25 at its establishment).
The services offered by GKCU, however, go beyond straightforward banking. Marilyn Patrick – the credit union’s Guardianship Officer and a social worker by training – has been working alongside other staff to establish and revamp programs that fulfill the institution’s goal of assisting underserved populations, and her efforts attempt to keep the credit union relevant in today’s social environment. That is, the credit union is seeking to match up community needs with the services that it offers.
As Leah Elliott outlined in a previous blog post, this has been reflected in a menu of programs supported by GKCU. These include Secure for Life, in which the credit union provides special training and services as well as financial management for the elderly or for displaced veterans. Another program is the Family Literacy Program, in which credit union employees assist local adults with establishing economic self-sufficiency through both group- and individual-based training in job-related skills, goal-setting, establishing credit and managing finances. Finally, two public school-based programs, Budgeting Brats and M&M (Money Management) for Youth, offer periodic financial training sessions to students from the elementary to the high school level, so that they can learn at an early age how to responsibly manage finances and establish credit. Taken together, these programs seek to synch up the credit union’s services with the demographic, economic and social realities of the areas in which it operates, such that underserved and under-resourced individuals and communities can gain some level of financial empowerment.
In addition, the credit union has begun considering the fact of Eastern North Carolina’s growing Spanish-speaking population. Consequently, GKCU has begun to position itself in the market to again reflect the region’s changing demographics and the resulting social and financial needs by increasing its Spanish-language communications capabilities and considering new program options.
This summer, CCP interns assisted GKCU by updating marketing materials in order to assist the credit union in reaching out to those who might benefit from its services. In addition to crafting targeted brochures and posters, interns created Spanish-language materials so that GKCU can expand its reach into one of Eastern North Carolina’s newer, underserved populations.