CU Gives Back to Fire-Ravaged Community

Sierra Central CU
At Sierra Central CU's grand reopening of its Paradise Branch, CEO John Cassidy along with the credit union’s long-time spokesperson and former Sacramento King, Harold Pressley, presented a check for $271,319 to the North Valley Community Foundation to help with rebuilding efforts.

While the Camp Fire in Butte County (the deadliest fire in California history) is history, those living in the affected area are on a long road to recovery.  And Sierra Central CU is doing its best to help.

The Camp Fire killed 85 people; burned more than 153,000 acres; and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes, 528 commercial buildings, and 4,293 other buildings. Sierra Central CU’s branch in Paradise, however, survived the fire with no problems, except for some landscaping damage. 

While the branch’s ATM has been operating since December, the branch didn’t open again until Feb. 5.

“We were the first financial institution to open” in Paradise, said Sierra Central CU CEO John Cassidy. “We’re excited to be back to help the community rebuild.”

On May 17, the credit union celebrated the branch’s grand reopening.  Some 300 people—including California state Assemblyman James Gallagher—attended the festivities, which included food, games, live music and the presentation of a check for $271,319 to the North Valley Community Foundation to help with rebuilding efforts.  Sierra Central had partnered with its long-time spokesperson and former Sacramento King, Harold Pressley, and his TLK (Treat’em Like a King) Foundation to form the Camp Fire Relief Fund. Along with Assemblyman Gallagher and local business leaders, the group raised money to help fire survivors get back on their feet.  


Sierra Central CU CEO John Cassidy with Assemblyman James Gallagher (far right) and Laura Paige and Al Cornelius


 According to Cassidy it is going to take some time for the town to be rebuilt due, in part, to soil toxicity as well as issues with the water and gas systems.  The credit union branch itself needed a 2,500-gallon water tank.


Sierra Central CU branch’s grand reopening featured food, games, and live music.


Of the branch’s six staff members, five lost everything in the Camp Fire. The newly reopened branch has five staff members—but not all of them were there before the fire. Two permanently transferred to other branches, the branch manager retired, and one moved out of state. The credit union also continues to provide support for the roughly 4,000 members in the burn areas, Cassidy said. 

Sierra Central CU's Paradise Branch reopened Feb. 5 but had its grand reopening in May.  


 "We want to help as many people as we can," Cassidy said. “The spirit (of the community) is remarkable and inspiring. It is something to behold. There’s still a ton of work to be done. But many are working their way back.”


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