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Nusenda Credit Union named 2018 Philanthropist of the Year

SANTA FE, N.M. — Serving the community is not just something Nusenda Credit Union does when working with its members at the counter or through its many financial services.

No, it means giving back to the community in any number of ways via monetary donations to different organizations, through cooperative efforts with like-minded community organizations and, even more importantly, through grassroots efforts by employees to help charitable organizations with hands-on aid.

“Because we were born out of this community, we highlight the connection to the community,” said Robin Brulé, Nusenda’s senior vice president community relations/assistant to the president. “One of the things we believe is we do well so we can do good.”

It’s that commitment to the communities in which its members live and work that earned Nusenda selection as the 2018 Philanthropist of the Year by the Journal North and the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation.

“For us, it’s very humbling and it’s a true honor because we work very hard to build partnerships and collaborations where our members live and work,” Brulé said.

“We want people to know that we take the needs of each community very seriously. Although there are common needs across New Mexico, each city and community has things there that they are prioritizing and trying to work on.”

Nusenda has been particularly proud of its work with the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.

“We helped them specifically to expand their intensive care and critical care unit to increase capacity,” Brulé said. “And we helped in the effort to upgrade the hospital to a Level II trauma center. Both of these particular efforts were financial in nature, she said.

“We want our philanthropic efforts to support their priority areas, ones that serve the community,” she said. “When they come to us with a list of items that they’re working on and what they need, we try to be as responsive as possible to make sure that we’re delivering what they need, and that’s truly collaboration.

“And we’re not saying how they use our money. We’re asking how we can best serve the members of our community.”

But Nusenda does far more than simply throw cash at problems.

“We work specifically with the school system, Santa Fe Public Schools and Santa Fe Community College,” Brulé said. “We partner with the Santa Fe Community Foundation on different types of initiatives that are collaborative in nature. We look to optimize programs that have an impact.”

Nusenda also works with La Familia community health center in Santa Fe, helping the uninsured and the underinsured to improve their medical coverage, and with United Way of Santa Fe County, which is focused on expanding early childhood learning to reach more children and families.

With SFPS, Nusenda offers a free summer school program designed to help students catch up on their credits, as well providing important life skills in terms of finances and credit.

“Enrolled students receive a comprehensive student guide/workbook at no charge and those who successfully complete the course receive half of an elective credit towards their graduation goals,” Brulé said.

This past summer, classes were offered at Santa Fe and Capital high schools, serving 40 students. Nusenda provided the money for teachers and supplies.

Nusenda has since expanded the partnership with SFPS to incorporate the Financial Capability Curriculum into a semester-long elective algebra class, Brulé said, including providing 350 curriculum books and support for the teachers. About 350 SFPS students will benefit from this free math class over the course of the 2018-19 school year.

Nusenda offers an elective Summer School credit to students in APS Schools, Santa Fe Public Schools and Bernalillo Public Schools.

“The big point for us is always trying to make sure people know we can’t do our work if we’re not keeping our members in mind,” she said.

“The bottom line for us is we want the community to know that we don’t take a cookie-cutter approach. We’re a co-op, so we believe in collaboration. The collaboration is a great model to how we work together to create a bigger impact and meet the needs of the people in the community.”