CUNA Council Conference Attendees Lend a Local Hand


By Mia Perez, CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council

The philosophy “people helping people” that credit unions embody shone through as many credit union marketing and business development professionals stepped out of the office and put their knowledge and experience to good use for a New Orleans-based non-profit.

On March 7, 2012, during the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference Apprentice Workshop, three teams of credit union professionals went offsite to work with Café Reconcile, a restaurant run by underprivileged youth learning to work their way out of poverty. Apprentice participants stepped out of the luxuries of downtown New Orleans and spent the day developing marketing and business strategies for the nonprofit restaurant.

The objective of the Apprentice Workshop is to draw on the Council’s diverse resources and marketing savvy to assist in the development of marketing and business strategy for charitable and non-profit businesses. At the end of a day of planning, Café Reconcile’s Director of Development, Dave Emond, and General Manager, James Zelaya, selected one of the three teams’ plans to pursue in their future marketing.

“Like most nonprofits, Café Reconcile always has to do more with less,” stated Emond. “CUNA’s team immersed themselves in our organization for a day and provided us with mountains of thoughtful and relevant suggestions. Thanks to their efforts, we now have an exciting new marketing plan to help carry us forward!”

Although the purpose of the day was to help those in need, the conference attendees found themselves leaving with genuinely valuable takeaways.

“Working with the Apprentice Workshop was a truly rewarding and moving experience. To see how one organization can make such an impact on those that would otherwise ‘fall through the cracks’, these at-risk youth, and to know that I in some small way helped to contribute to their future success was just amazing. Credit unions care about people, and the Apprentice program helps us show that we can help more than just our members, but those who truly are in need. I cannot recommend it highly enough,” Delynn Byars, Senior Vice President of Marketing, First South Financial Credit Union shared following the experience.

In light of the success and positive feedback from last year’s workshop, the 2013 Apprentice Workshop is a highly anticipated opportunity. This year, conference attendees of any level of experience are invited to devote their knowledge and expertise to a day of helping the Blind Children’s Learning Center in Anaheim, California.

Since 1962, the Blind Children’s Learning Center has provided early intervention, education and multi-disciplinary services for blind, visually-impaired and deaf-blind children and their families in Orange County. The Center provides parent training, Braille instruction, orientation & mobility training, life skills training, and counseling services, as well as occupational, speech and physical therapy. To compensate for a reliance on potentially inconsistent charitable donations, The Center offers a small, but very high quality, private preschool that yields revenue to help.

The CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council will help design a new business model that will help to formalize and expand the Center’s sighted peer preschool program to include more children from the community. By cultivating this more stable funding source, the Council hopes to reduce BCLC’s dependence on charitable funding and increase its long-term financial stability.


Mia Perez

Mia Perez

For the past 18 years, Mia has traveled the credit union highway stopping along virtually every department in the organization. Follow the member experience from beginning to end, and Mia ... Web: Details