MERIDIAN, Miss. (6/11/13)--Despite the fact they are direct competitors, three Meridian, Miss., credit unions have chosen to define success--not based on individual achievement, but rather on how their cooperation can benefit their community, according to the Mississippi Credit Union Association.
Last year, 1st Mississippi Federal CU, Meridian Mutual FCU and MUNA FCU initiated, organized and launched The Golden Apple Program, which recognizes area teachers for "going above and beyond the standard teaching methods."
The idea for the program came from MUNA President/CEO Bo Pittman, who was aware of a similar program in Alabama. Pittman, married to a teacher for 30 years, thought developing a recognition program for Meridian area teachers was a worthwhile project.
"Seeing the additional time and effort my wife Terisa has put into her classrooms over the years really highlights the heart so many teachers put into this job," Pittman explained. "They rarely get any recognition for these above-and-beyond extra efforts so when we learned about the Golden Apple Program, it was really a simple decision to try to get it started in Meridian."
However, instead of keeping the idea to himself and his own credit union, Pittman knew the program could be better and the outreach larger if other area credit unions were invited to support the program as well.
"At MUNA, we feel that all of the Meridian credit unions complement, instead of compete, with each other so the Golden Apple program works well for all," said Pittman.
The group reached out to other local businesses for support. The Meridian Family of Stations, which includes the local Fox, NBC, and CBS affiliates, and The Meridian Star newspaper partnered to donate all of the advertising, as well as manage the overall program. This allowed the credit unions to become the key sponsor. Other local businesses became sponsors which provided the needed funding.
The program recognizes one teacher a month during the school year. Nominations come from parents or students. Winner recognition includes a cash prize donated by the three credit unions, media coverage of their award from the program's media partners, and other prizes, such as a school supply shopping spree, which are donated by other program partners.
The program is an opportunity to highlight a unique characteristic of credit unions, which is their willingness to work together for the mutual benefit of all, Meridian Mutual FCU's President/CEO Dennis Florreich noted.
"The cooperation our credit unions are showing is something other financial industry competitors would probably never consider," said Florreich.