Making a difference, one step at a time

Find someone who is doing something good for others that aligns with your personal values, then get behind it. If you apply this mantra to the work you do every day and to your volunteer choices, you will help others achieve their potential while also fulfilling your personal mission and values.

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that there is no excuse to sit on the sidelines. Even if it seems there are others who are more talented or more able than you, it is still possible to make a difference in your own way. One way to do that is by getting your company and coworkers involved with a cause or organization that makes it easy for everyone to get involved. Not only will this create a sense of comradery among team members, but it will also provide everyone with the chance to give back to the community in which they live or work.

Given the credit union philosophy of “people helping people,” we should all take on the responsibility of giving back to those who are less fortunate. The Credit Union Development Educator program run by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) gives credit union employees the chance to not only become Certified Development Educators (DE), but also the opportunity to do some good. As part of my role of VP of Learning for PSCU, I was tasked with finding a community service project of which 100 fellow DEs could be a part that would benefit one of the largest social issues in the Tampa Bay area: homelessness.

The “tent city” crisis in St. Petersburg made national news years ago, and the city has been working to repair the homelessness disaster ever since. PSCU and other credit union attendees decided to team up with local nonprofit organization Pinellas Hope during this year’s NCUF DE Annual Workshop, which was held in St. Petersburg. Located in Pinellas County, Pinellas Hope serves as a temporary shelter for homeless men and women and assists residents with job and housing placement. The “day of service” portion of the workshop included a fundraising element, where attendees raised over $25,000 in just one hour that was donated to support Pinellas Hope’s mission of providing shelter for the homeless. In addition to fundraising, participants helped furnish and decorate 14 Pinellas Hope apartments by assembling furniture and stocking the pantries and kitchens with household items and more.

This fundraiser was the start of a larger relationship between PSCU and Pinellas Hope. PSCU is committed to continuing to serve and support the homeless population in Pinellas County through its partnership with the nonprofit. PSCU’s employee-led band, Rockovate, recently put on a concert to raise funds for Pinellas Hope through T-shirt sales, a raffle, and other donations. Many PSCU employees have even gotten involved with the organization on their own, dedicating their time and energy independent of PSCU’s efforts.

Beyond this one service organization, PSCU employees have banned together to support other causes, including Metropolitan Ministries and Feeding Tampa Bay locally, as well as Junior Achievement and the American Cancer Society nationally. Each PSCU employee is encouraged to take an active role in serving by using two paid vacation days each year to support a community service project of their choosing. As a result of the CUSO’s philanthropic efforts, PSCU was recently named a finalist in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2017 Corporate Philanthropy Awards, which highlight companies that have sanctioned giving and volunteering in the local community.

Finding ways to combine your personal goals with that of your coworkers and other members of your community will foster ongoing support and year-round giving. It is often as simple as sharing a cause about which you are passionate with those around you. If we all continually ask ourselves, “How can I help my neighbor?” amazing things can happen.

Thomas Olney

Thomas Olney

Tom Olney oversees business processes to ensure approved initiatives are completed in an accurate and timely manner at PSCU. He directs the development and implementation of major initiatives within the ... Web: Details