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People Helping Harry—The Epitome of the CU Difference
Monday, August 3, 2015 7:00 AM

From Andy Reed, president and CEO of Texas People Federal Credit Union in Fort Worth comes a story that warms all of our hearts and reminds us why credit unions are so needed and valued in our communities. First, never forget, it's about the people. Reed, in a stirring Facebook post, brings us a story about a special person named Harry, one of Texas People FCU's members.

"I want to tell you a story about Harry and my extraordinary team at my new credit union," Reed says. "Recently, Harry stopped coming in for his daily cup of coffee. Concerned, the staff checked in on him and found him overwhelmed by life."

As background information, Harry lives in a small one-bedroom apartment, survives on $300 a month after he pays his rent, and had a $250 electric bill to pay. "As you can imagine, this is just not economically feasible," Reed says. "My very generous team selflessly circled the wagons and split his electric bill to keep his lights on last Friday. I was so proud of their generosity and kindness. They're such an amazing group of people and I'm so glad to have every one of them on my staff."

Reed goes on to explain, "In trying to help Harry, I learned enough to disturb me. He was nine years old when his mom left him on the side of the road and told him, 'You're the biggest mistake I ever made.' His life has been filled with all of the things most of us fear—hunger to the point of near starvation, homelessness, mental illness, and an existence with no family or real friends. About a decade ago Harry was able to get off the streets and into an apartment. Of course, he has many emotional and physical ailments which are no doubt the scars of a past he didn't choose for himself.

"For his 62nd birthday, my staff blessed Harry beyond measure. They provided him with enough food to last weeks, cleaning supplies, dishes, pots and pans, cleaners, a small amount of cash... the list goes on and on. Harry could only say thank you and 'This is my best birthday ever.' I could only be amazed at the genuine care for others my team exhibited and be grateful for a group of employees who embrace the true credit union mission.

"This last week I've come to realize I have more than a bountiful harvest in my life. No need is unmet and I even want for very little. Nonetheless, my friends and family always want to know what I want for my birthday. Do I want to go on a weekend cruise to the Bahamas? Do I want to go out to eat at a fancy restaurant? Do I want to have a party with my friends? This year, I know EXACTLY what I want. I want to give 62-year-old Harry a proper bed so he doesn't have to sleep on the floor anymore."

Reed used his Facebook post to rally friends to not only buy Harry a bed, but also a frame, headboard, linens, and use of a delivery truck.

But Reed didn't stop there. He went to the grocery store and bought Harry a cake to celebrate at the credit union. He also dug into his own pocket and bought $50 worth of groceries. He left the supplies in the credit union breakroom. The next day, discovered that his employees had the same idea, filling the credit union with food and household staples purchased with their own money, shown in the photo above.

Reed's team and Harry's story were featured in Credit Union Times in an article titled, "Where Does Service End and Charity Begin?" where they made the case for how credit unions can benefit from such charity to people like Harry.

"Despite the fact that Reed and his employees acted on their own," the article reads, "helping Harry was good for the community. It meant one less homeless person on the streets of Fort Worth. It provided employees with more job satisfaction than they could get from processing all their daily work by 5 p.m. It also showed all those consumers on Facebook that even if charity isn’t officially part of the credit union motto, people who work at credit unions have different values than those who produce profit for shareholders."

Reed has established a GoFundMe account to collect donations for Harry, and as of last Friday afternoon, the effort had raised an additional $610.

"Now my neighbors have even given me donations," Reed said. "One neighbor brought me a vacuum cleaner and a 12-pack of paper towels. Everyone just wants to help. I'm so moved by the compassion and extraordinary efforts of my staff, family, colleagues, and friends. It's really been an amazing blessing for me and the staff as well as a great reminder about why credit unions are different. To top it off, my team hit a huge lending goal today, and yesterday afternoon a young lady who works for me received a marriage proposal from her boyfriend on bended knee—right here in the branch. It's been a really big week for Texas People, our staff, and members."

Andy Reed and Texas People Federal Credit Union make us all very proud to be part of the credit union movement.