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Tell Our Story: Generations FCU Supports Members through Adversity
Monday, April 6, 2015 6:50 AM

Tell Our StoryGenerations FCU

Generations Federal Credit Union is this year celebrating their 75th anniversary. As part of Cornerstone's Tell Our Story campaign for milestone credit unions, VP of Corporate Communications Ashley M. Harris submitted two of a wealth of compelling stories that embody their credit union philosophy of people helping people.

Generations FCU Member Debra

A few years ago, Harris said, the Generations Federal Credit Union lending department received a letter from a member by the name of Debra with a story that moved them to tears—and action.

One October evening, Debra’s husband had come home, grabbed a baseball bat, and began beating Debra and their son. The two barricaded themselves inside a bathroom, and that’s when the husband grabbed a gun and began shooting through the door. Thankfully, Debra’s son was not hit, but she was not quite so lucky. 

The left side of Debra's body was riddled with bullets, and she suffered a collapsed lung, shattered femur, and shattered pelvis, among many other injuries. When the police came through the door to rescue Debra, the husband turned his gun on them, injuring an officer, which led to an hours-long standoff with police.

In the months following, Debra began the long process of rebuilding her life, testifying against her husband—putting him in jail for 55 years—and also filing for divorce. Debra spent more than a month in the hospital recovering from her injuries and then began 18 months of physical therapy learning to walk again. It was a long and arduous process, but Debra was determined. Slowly, but surely, she began to reclaim her life.

But one reminder was always there: her car. Every time Debra climbed in and out of her car, she was in agonizing pain from her injuries. After months of searching, she found a small SUV that fit her just fine, with no pain getting in or out of the vehicle.

Because of her credit record and debt, no one would take a chance on her. And that’s when Generations stepped in. Debra mailed a letter to Generations, explaining her situation, as well as her determination to survive and thrive. She ended the letter with a simple, "Please help me."

And that’s exactly what Generations did.

Generations contacted Debra and let her know that she should focus on taking care of herself and her son, and our focus would be making sure she got the loan. Additionally, our staff were so moved by Debra’s story, they held a fundraiser in her honor and all of the proceeds were donated to a local domestic violence organization in her name. During the life of the loan, Generations never received a late payment. Debra has since become a staunch advocate for domestic violence awareness.

Generations FCU Member and Employee Robert Martinez

"Robert Martinez is what you would easily classify as a great employee," Harris says. "He began his career with Generations in 1982 and has moved through the credit union career ladder, holding such positions as courier, computer operator, and most recently, as core services programmer."

Robert has always been a donor to the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, but a few years ago he added his name to the Bone Marrow donor list as well. Harris said, "Imagine his surprise when a call came shortly thereafter that he was an exact match for a woman in California, Donna, who had only a 3 percent chance of survival after her leukemia diagnosis. On top of that, she was also a 10-year breast cancer survivor."

Robert immediately began the difficult four-day process of donating bone marrow that required drug injections that made his bones feel like they were expanding (similar to what you feel when you’re achy from the flu). On the fourth day, the new cells were harvested from his body through a blood transfusion process, separating the stem cells and then returning the filtered blood back into his body.

Donna’s process was no easier as her body had no immune system to speak of and she was completely susceptible to any disease. Her body’s first reaction was to reject these new stem cells and then slowly—through medication and time—she began to adapt.

Despite the stress and strain on himself, his body and his family, Robert says he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. “It’s an amazing, awesome feeling. When you find out that actually saved a life, that you are the reason someone is walking around and hugging their family, it’s not something I can describe. It’s extraordinarily humbling.”

To honor Robert, Generations arranged for a surprise meeting. A “staff meeting” was scheduled, and Donna was flown to San Antonio to finally meet her donor face to face. Donna and Robert still stay in regular communication, share family photos and have become a true part of each other’s lives.