Showing up for those who stepped up

This September through November, ACU employees and members across Manitoba came together to support community organizations that serve individuals and groups who have been amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic. This community response drive was the first of its kind for the credit union, which collected much-needed items on behalf of five community organizations.

Collecting essential products

Employees and members were invited to collect new, unopened menstruation products and personal items including toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioner. These were the items identified by ACU’s community partners as being the most urgently needed and in shortest supply.

ACU community response drive - team members

For two weeks, these items could be dropped off at any ACU branch, and the donations supported organizations including:

  • Main Street Project, which serves the needs of Winnipeg’s most systemically excluded residents experiencing homelessness.
  • Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, which supports Indigenous families to better care for children by creating meaningful opportunities for community and family involvement.
  • Anishiative empowers and reconnects youth with community through life-sustaining community outreach and land-based culture camps.
  • North End Women’s Centre is the longest-running women’s resource centre in all of Winnipeg. Their service areas are community support, recovery and housing support and community development and engagement.
  • Sscope provides housing and employment to people living with a mental health illness through environmentally friendly social enterprise ventures.

Beyond banking

President & CEO Kevin Sitka stressed the importance of this need to show up for our community.

Kevin Sitka

“While our business is financial services, our purpose is so much more. Focusing on our triple bottom line including people, planet and prosperity, ACU helps to enable and contribute to sustainable communities for all,” Kevin explained of the importance of initiatives like the community response drive.

ACU community response drive - giving back

“Communities are always at the heart of everything that Assiniboine Credit Union does on a day-to-day basis, and clearly we are experiencing unprecedented times at this moment,” he continued.

“We are very proud to be able to help and assist in any small way that we can and that’s what this initiative is all about.”

Brendan Reimer

Brendan Reimer, ACU’s Strategic Partner, Values-Based Banking and one of the community response drive organizers echoed those sentiments. “The community organizations that we’re engaging with support individuals and groups who have been most impacted by the pandemic,” he added.

“We want to align this drive to our vision for a sustainable future for all by ensuring basic needs are provided for those in our communities experiencing poverty.”

An overwhelming response of donations

The drive was an astounding success, as employees and members filled donation bins to the brim. In fact, the collection of items was so successful that multiple drop-offs were done for some organizations.

The campaign was also a wonderful opportunity for employees to have meaningful conversations with ACU members about our credit union’s commitment to our communities, and engage them in making a difference.

ACU community response drive - employees

Throughout October and November, ACU employees made all the donation deliveries to the five community partners.

Employees were excited to get the opportunity to engage with these community organizations as part of the initiative. During drop-offs, they were also given a tour of each organization to learn more about the important work these partners are doing.

“It was great to see how passionate our employees were during these drop-offs and tours. They were very engaged and asked thoughtful questions to gain a better understanding of the meaningful work these organizations do,” said Brendan.

The drive also gave employees the chance to participate in the community in person once again – something that has been difficult to do with the pandemic.

“While we try to provide employees with community involvement opportunities like our Habitat for Humanity builds and social impact tours, it’s been difficult with the COVID-19 restrictions,” Brendan continued. “For some of our newer employees, this was the first time they were able to take part in a community initiative since the pandemic started. We’re all looking forward to more community activities like this in the near future.”

Response matches need

The partner organizations also expressed that the donations could not have come at a better time.

“We get so many individuals looking for hygiene items, and the demand throughout COVID-19 has certainly increased,” said Melanie Houde, North End Women’s Centre (NEWC) Drop-in Team Lead.

“This is so perfect, this is exactly what our community needs right now.” Explained Angela McCaughan, Executive Director of Sscope, as she watched the delivered donation bags pile up in their entrance.

ACU community response drive - North End Women's Centre
Second NEWC drop off

“The Thompson Crisis Center staff were amazed at the generosity of ACU and our members! Some of their supplies were running low and they said we came at just the right time,” said Brenda Laycock, ACU Thompson Branch Manager.

ACU community response drive
Brenda with ACU Thompson Branch and Thompson Crisis Centre employees during their drop off.

This holiday season and beyond, please consider supporting any of these wonderful community partners or those individuals or groups that are dear to you.

For a list of charitable organizations to support, please visit CanadaHelps.

About Maria Cristina Laureano

MC (Maria Cristina) Laureano is ACU's Community Relations Specialist. She oversees ACU's grants and sponsorships program and, as her title implies, she is out in the community engaging with partners to strengthen ACU's community involvement initiatives. Along with her community work at ACU, MC is an avid volunteer and is part of numerous boards and committees — community is definitely one of her passions!

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