Melissa Gutierrez, marketing director with One Source FCU, and Dana Cassolopez from El Paso Area Teachers FCU each received a "Benji Award" last month for their participation in the spring Money Smart Week (MSW) initiative.
Melissa Gutierrez, marketing director with One Source FCU, and Dana Cassolopez from El Paso Area Teachers FCU each received a “Benji Award” last month for their participation in the spring Money Smart Week (MSW) initiative. MSW is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. In the following Q&A, Gutierrez shares more insight into the initiative and why she believes it is such an important initiative.
What excited you most about the Money Smart Week initiative?
Gutierrez: What really excited me most about the MSW initiative is that we all work together, a collaboration between businesses, local financial institutions (banks and credit unions), not-for-profit organizations, libraries, government agencies and the media. We work together throughout the year for the common good, educating our community, the underserved community about financial literacy which is what credit unions do best.
What was the goal of the MSW campaign?
Gutierrez: Our MSW El Paso goal for 2013 was to increase the number of attendees, increase the number of classes and focus more on the underserved areas in our community. Our attendees went from 670 in 2012 to 979 in 2013. Our classes went from 31 in 2012 to 94 in 2013 and a majority of our classes were held in underserved areas in our community which was our main goal.
What role did you play?
Gutierrez: I have several roles. First and foremost I am the chair for the media committee. I am also a part of the executive committee, program committee and education committee. I run the media committee and attended the other committees along with Emi Marquez, marketing specialist for One Source FCU, to be able to get firsthand information on what we on the media committee had to focus on and promote in 2013.
Why do you think the MSW initiative is so important?
Gutierrez: The MSW initiative is important to me because working for a credit union gives me the opportunity to reach out to the very community I live in to help those that are struggling to get by or just need a refresher on financial education. We all want to better our community and being able to teach them about their finances and trusting local financial institutions is just one step to better the community we all live in.
What role do you think credit unions have in improving financial literacy?
Gutierrez: Credit unions have always played a huge role in improving financial literacy. Credit unions are not only local and a huge part of our community but we are trusted more as a group to do right by our members, who are not only our members but our owners as well. This is very important to the credit union movement because without our members we would not be able to do what we do best, serve them, our community and teach them about financial literacy.
What other credit unions were involved in the MSW initiative?
Gutierrez: Other credit unions involved in the MSW initiative were the El Paso Chapter of Credit Unions, One Source FCU, Teachers FCU, GECU, Firstlight FCU, and Security Service FCU.
What were some of the activities?
Gutierrez: Some of the activities were English and Spanish sessions taught throughout the week of April 20-27 2013. Topics were money matters, identity theft, first time home buyers, savings and budgeting to name a few.