Greater Nevada CU’s “A Greater Good” Project Showcases Community Heroes

Greater Nevada Credit Union
Joe and Keli Najera, owners of local food truck Kenji’s, were among those honored by Greater Nevada CU’s A Greater Good campaign. Here they are being interviewed by Greater Nevada CU Community Outreach Supervisor Michelle Hale.

For the past few weeks, Greater Nevada CU has shone the spotlight on those making a difference in the community via its “A Greater Good” project.

The program was the brainchild of Chief Development Officer Danny DeLaRosa and a desire to positively uplift the community during the pandemic by recognizing individuals that are helping more people live greater in their communities.

The program launched on April 15 with the credit union requesting nominations from the community. Throughout the campaign, which officially ended June 15, Greater Nevada CU received 83 entries by community members through the gncu.org site and more than 20 individuals were ultimately recognized and interviewed. CEO Wally Murray was inspired by the stories and the budget increased to $10,000, said Greater Nevada CU VP of Marketing Michael Thomas.

Nine internal judges reviewed all the applications. The winners were chosen through a weekly vote. Greater Nevada CU Community Outreach Supervisor Michelle Hale informed the recipients of their recognition via video, which were then promoted on the credit union’s Facebook page (@GreaterNevadaCU) well as website. Each recipient received $250 to donate to the organization of his or her choosing. Recipients included:

Joe and Keli Najera: They are the owners of Kenji’s, a local food truck and recently opened restaurant. During this pandemic, the Najeras and their restaurant team has prepared, cooked, and served numerous meals to staff at several medical facilities, including the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center and Northern Nevada Medical Center. They donated their $250 to the High Desert Montessori School's Kids on Big Rigs fundraiser.

Tiffany Kress: A math and leadership teacher at Sparks High School. Knowing the disappointment of her students in Washoe County for missing the highlights of their senior year, Kress initiated crowd-sourcing for ideas on how to support her seniors, which resulted in the Adopt-A-Senior program. She secured community partners for all 300 students who were tasked with celebrating the senior and providing graduation gifts based on provided wish lists. Kress chose the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation as the nonprofit organization recipient of her donation.

Tina Drakulich: She has been assisting combat veterans for 10 years find their passion for life through art. Through the David J. Drakulich Art Foundation: For Freedom of Expression (DJD Foundation), Drakulich has provided these veterans the freedom to express their emotions and find their own healing process. Her award of $250 was donated to the DJD Foundation.

Justin Broberg: General manager for Two Men and a Truck Reno. In April, his generous donation of a moving truck to pick up pet food that had been donated to the Shakespeare Animal Fund was appreciated. The pet food was for pets in desperate need in the Reno/Sparks community. One of those April afternoons, he along with two employees and other community volunteers distributed more than four pallets of food to hundreds of people for their pets. His award of $250 was donated to the Shakespeare Animal Fund by Greater Nevada CU on his behalf.

For one of the final recipients, Nevada Lt. Governor Kate Marshall was on the call to celebrate the Delivering with Dignity Reno-Sparks program. The program—launched in May by Marshall and the United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra as well as several local community partners—received a special one-time award from the credit union.  It was launched as an emergency response to the healthcare and economic crisis created by COVID-19. Through partnerships with locally-owned restaurants, leading nonprofit agencies, and private corporations, the program has delivered more than 10,000 meals directly to the doorsteps of residents struggling financially and deemed most vulnerable while keeping dozens of restaurant staff employed.

Thomas said the stories have been enthusiastically received by members and the community. Among the comments, the credit union has received: h the stories and received a lot of positive feedback and responses both on our website and social “Thankful for Greater Nevada shining light on the Greater Good during the pandemic”, “Appreciative of the leaders that were recognized”, “Informed of not-for-profits in our community and how they can engage with them”.

Because the promotion worked so well, the credit union is considering whether to do it again. “But we are not just going to hit replay,” Thomas said. “We are always on the lookout for opportunities for programs to capture our passion to serve our members and communities.”

This program was just one of the many ways the credit union has made an impact during this pandemic-fueled crisis.

"Greater Nevada CU is passionate about helping more people ‘Live Greater’,” said DeLaRosa. “During the pandemic we put our passion in action by recognizing ‘Greater Good’ in our communities, shifting our financial literacy program to a digital format, and working with local employers to help them and their staff navigate the impacts of Covid-19.”

For more videos and stories, click here.

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