Gene's Note: New Year, New Meaning
With the new year comes renewed hope, celebration of the past year and excitement for all that the coming year may bring. I don’t know that any NEW year has been more anticipated than 2021. There are many of us that would like to put the virus, economic uncertainty and wildfires behind us… I know that I do. Yet, with all the challenges we faced in 2020, the one constant was the incredible dedication of our team, the loyalty we saw from our members and the support from our community. We saw incredible acts of care and concern and believe the best way to end the year was to spread just a little good cheer.
At Rogue, we were well positioned to weather all that 2020 threw at us. One of our leaders suggested we could “Pay It Forward” to thank our team and community for supporting us in 2020. We gave each Rogue team member a $50 gift card and instructions to simply let their heart guide them in paying it forward to someone who could use a little extra help this year. All we asked is that they share their stories of how they gave their Pay It Forward card away.
At the end of each year, I travel to our branches from Bandon to Klamath Falls to thank our teams for all they did to take care of our members during the year. I even added a visit to Malheur Federal Credit Union in Ontario and Vale in Oregon, and Payette and New Plymouth in Idaho to welcome our new team members to the credit union. I heard firsthand the stories of how our team members shared their cards. Everywhere I went I saw a sincere attitude of gratitude, which both inspired me and made me proud. I was touched by how their eyes lit up and often the tears quickly followed as the stories were shared about the difference the cards would make.
I heard story after story about how our team members were able to help people that just needed a little hope to those that had lost everything. The most important part of all of this is our over 500 team members had the opportunity to make a difference for someone. As I listened to each of the stories, I was saddened by the difficulty so many face and heartened by how just showing someone you care is the most valuable gift you can give.
One team helped a veteran who lost his home in the wildfires and a server that is struggling to make ends meet due to the recent freeze. One team member and her husband helped an elderly neighbor that did not have anyone to look after him and had very little food. Another team member knew of a grocery clerk that was raising his son on his own and was not sure where he was going to have enough money for Christmas presents. When an account became overdrawn due to a mistake with a Social Security payment, another team member shared their Pay It Forward card to help the member get by until their next monthly payment came in.
I heard incredible stories of loss and struggle, and it would be easy to focus on all that we don’t have. Yet, it was clear that a small act of kindness can make a huge difference for someone in need, for someone that has lost hope and for someone who is not sure if anyone cares about them anymore. Each time a team member shared their story, the appreciation and gratitude was a highlight for them. Many of the cards were received with tears of joy and a statement of renewed hope. It has been a difficult year for so many, and at the same time, we have seen an incredible outpouring of care and concern. The beauty of people helping people has risen above the loss and struggle we all faced. Whether it was over $1 million in donations to our wildfire relief fund or the largest amount of donations ever to our Credit Unions for Kids campaign to support our Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, your generosity is paving the path to recovery.
This year was a difficult road that we would all like to put behind us. At times, we might have even lost the path, but I love the Zig Ziglar quote, “Difficult roads often to lead to beautiful destinations. The best is yet to come!” While I cannot predict what will happen in 2021, I believe that if we continue to come together to help each other through these difficult times we will create respectful conversations that will allow us to find our similarities and overcome our differences.
As we join forces and become stronger together, please join me in ringing in the New Year by paying it forward to friends, family and even strangers as we travel the path to a beautiful destination… where the best it yet to come!
I truly enjoy the messages I receive from our members in response to these posts and suggestions for future topics. So, please share any stories of paying it forward that you have done or have been done to you at firstname.lastname@example.org.