In a Nutshell: Service One Credit Union provides the people in the Bowling Green, Glasgow, and South Central Kentucky, areas with competitive interest rates and quality savings and loan products. The institution also focuses heavily on community outreach, including financial literacy programs for young children and adults. And Service One Credit Union sponsors grants and scholarships that help local teachers and students achieve their educational goals. For its dedication to members, students, and residents in its service area, Service One Credit Union has earned our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
In the financial world, it’s often easy for an institution to hand a check to a local charity and claim the tax break and publicity that comes from a good deed. But some choose to go further to help their communities by offering not only financial resources but also their time and expertise.
Service One Credit Union, in Kentucky, falls within the latter category and works to make its local communities better. The credit union started as Western Kentucky University Credit Union in 1963. After serving the Hilltopper community for two decades, the credit union changed its name to Service One and expanded its reach throughout the Bowling Green and Glasgow areas of Kentucky.
Today, more than 15,000 members contribute to the credit union’s approximately $165 million in managed assets. Those members, and others in the community, can also turn to Service One for its philanthropic support and financial literacy efforts.
“Our main mission is to help working families,” said Myra Dwyer, Executive Communications Specialist at Service One. “We want to provide them with everything they need — from car loans to low interest rates.”
Dwyer said that Service One aims to create lifetime financial relationships with the people in its service area. And those relationships go beyond offering competitive rates and savings and loan products.
The institution and its employees also spend plenty of time working in the community and helping residents — whether they’re members or not — get on the right financial path.
“We want to help our members, and members of the community, plan for their futures, build savings, and save money on interest rates,” Dwyer said.
For its dedication to the people of Kentucky, Service One Credit Union has earned our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
Taking Financial Education to the Next Generation
One might expect that Service One would focus on education, given its beginnings as a university institution. And it expands on that collegiate service to provide financial literacy resources to younger students in the area.
It teaches young students early lessons on money management through its Junior Achievement program. During the in-class presentations, Service One employees provide students with financial literacy materials and leave them with a dose of savings inspiration.
“The kids are really interested,” Dwyer said. “We bring them change purses and teach them how to start saving because we want to help them build a foundation for their future.”
Service One also helps teachers stock their classrooms with supplies, thanks to teacher grants worth $250 that the institution awards each school year. The credit union funds these grants through another kind gesture that it offers to its members.
“We do ‘Skip a Payment’ twice a year,” Dwyer said. “Members can pay $15 and skip a loan payment. We do that in the summer and then again around the holidays. Each $15 we collect helps to fund our scholarships and teacher grants.”
The institution designed that payment skipping feature to help members during times of the year when money can get tight, and spending can increase.
“This helps our members if they’re running short on vacation or holiday funds. But it also provides for students and teachers by giving them scholarships and grants,” Dwyer said. “We see that as a win-win.”
In recent years, the credit union has expanded its scholarship program to high school seniors who want to further their education — at Western Kentucky University or at a technical college.
“Students can submit an application and our team will review it, blindly, so we don’t know who they are,” Dwyer said. “Those scholarships can go a long way in helping students pay for their education.”
Initiatives Help Schools, Charities, and the Environment
Although education remains close to Service One’s heart, the credit union doesn’t limit its efforts to teaching. The institution raises funds — and awareness — for several worthy organizations through its charitable partnerships and community service.
“We work with a lot of local charities that don’t get the same attention that bigger national charities do,” Dwyer said. “Some of these groups can have a hard time raising funds, so we try to help them get more attention within the community.”
One way Service One raises funds is through its Shred Day, when community members — not just credit union members — can destroy documents with sensitive information. The credit union collects donations during the day with all proceeds going to the Center for Courageous Kids, a Kentucky charity that provides free camping experiences to children with life-threatening illnesses.
“It’s a very important organization that we’re proud to work with,” Dwyer said. “These children can go and have fun for a week and get to know and relate to other children who have the same illness.”
The institution also works closely with environmental causes, including its own green initiative at its main branch on Campbell Lane in Bowling Green.
“The addition was built to be geothermal, and we sell some of our electricity back to the local electric company,” Dwyer said. “The roof is sustainable and helps with the cooling effect of the building.”
And Service One offers tips to help area residents positively impact the environment. Dwyer said the goal is to further the not-for-profit’s mission of making the local community a better place.
Core Service Upgrades Expected to Make Banking Easier
Service One is nearing completion on several essential upgrades to its core services and its website that Dwyer said would substantially improve member experience.
“We’re investing a lot of money in a major core upgrade and new digital products that we hope to release around March of 2020,” Dwyer said. “We also released a new user-friendly website in September that’s easier to navigate.”
The credit union’s website also includes educational modules and a host of calculators and web tools that make researching and learning about finance easier. And Dwyer said the new upgrades will make those tools even more intuitive.
“They are excellent walk-throughs for people who may be new to finance, have bad credit, or not understand information related to finance,” she said. “They can learn about things like credit cards, the rates and terms involved, and how to take care of their financial resources.”
Service One Credit Union remains steadfast in its mission to educate its community and help improve the lives of the people who keep Bowling Green moving. And it is committed to helping anyone — including school children, college students, adults, and non-members — who want to improve their finances.
“Over the next year, we want to focus on getting some of the younger people into the credit union and make it easier for them,” Dwyer said. “And our new digital products and website will make things a lot faster and easier to understand.”