Credit union wins trio of honors

The Waynesboro-based DuPont Community Credit Union won a pair of first-place honors among three awards given recently by the Virginia Credit Union League and the Credit Union National Association.

DCCU won first place in the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Awards for credit unions. The Desjardins Awards honor credit unions for their commitment to teaching personal finance basics to young people.

The credit union was recognized for its MileStones Youth Program, a one-of-a-kind financial education program that rewards young people for acquiring basic personal finance skills; its work to encourage credit union employees to promote personal finance education as a product of the credit union; and its efforts to reach some 7,600 young people with lessons on money management.

“Our credit union is committed to helping people acquire the knowledge they need to successfully navigate today’s financial services marketplace,” DuPont Community Credit Union president/CEO Gerald Hershey said. “Our young people, in particular, need to learn the basics of personal finance, the importance of budgeting, how to use credit wisely and the benefits of saving for the future.”

The credit union’s success in partnering with 37 schools from preschool through high school also won the praise of the competition judges, as well as its work with 17 other community organizations to develop and deliver personal finance training in its communties. DuPont Community was also commended for its willingness to share its three age-appropriate classroom presentations with its peer credit unions.

The credit union also won a first-place honor in the Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action competition. The competition honors credit unions for their practical application of the “People-Helping-People” philosophy that is the hallmark of the credit union movement.

DCCU’s award-winning entry focused on its participation in the Filene Research Institute’s Debt In Focus program, a web-based debt management program that the credit union field-tested for the Filene Institute.

The program’s goals were to help members better manage debt, to reach lower-income households, who might have trouble stretching their budget to manage debt, and to educate young people, who may have unrealistic expectations of their ability to manage debt after college. More than 2,300 of the credit union’s members used the Debt In Focus resource. 

“The Debt In Focus program enabled us to reach members most in need of personal finance counseling,” Hershey said. “Through the program, members were able to develop a budget, get advice on saving for retirement, and rebuild their credit score.”

The final recent honor was a third-place award in the state Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Recognition Award Program for credit unions. The Social Responsibility Recognition Award Program honors credit unions for their involvement in community projects and activities.

With local animal shelters struggling to find donations, while dealing with an influx of pets turned out by cash-strapped families, DuPont Community Credit Union employees chose to support the work of the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter, the Greater Augusta Regional Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals during 2010.

With fundraisers throughout the year, the credit union and its members raised $10,949 for the SPCAs and animal shelter, while its “Cause for Paws” employee team promoted the mission of the three partner organizations, worked to raise awareness of the need for pet adoptions, collected items needed by the local animal shelters, and volunteered at the local shelters.

“Our staff and members really embraced this cause due to the increased number of abandoned pets coming into our local animal shelters as a result of the current economic conditions,” Hershey said. “We were proud to assist our local SPCAs and animal shelters, not only financially, but in helping them spread their message about pet adoption and in providing volunteer assistance at the shelters.”

The credit union’s entry also noted the many studies that provide evidence of the benefits of having pets, including reduced stress, improved mood and encouragement to exercise.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

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