NEW YORK (4/12/12)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions announced the 2012 recipients of the Annie Vamper "Helping Hands" Award, the highest honor given by the federation to community development credit union (CDCU) staff and volunteers.
The awards celebrate the organization's late Associate Director, Annie Wilma Vamper, whose lifelong dedication to the credit union movement, and to small credit unions in particular, served as inspiration to many low- and moderate-income people and communities nationwide.
"It's also a testament to the diversity of the CDCU movement that these two honorees from vastly different credit unions, one with less than a million in assets, and the other quickly approaching the one-hundred million milestone, should be honored in the same year," he added, noting that "credit unions of all sizes can make important and indelible contributions to their communities, and these two honorees demonstrate this reality."
Conner joined the credit union's board more than 25 years ago. Most recently, as chairman of its delinquent loan committee, he has taken the collection of delinquent loans to new heights, managing to reduce the delinquency rate from over 26% at its highest point, to nearly 0% now.
He and his committee work non-stop contacting credit union members directly, sending notices and letters, and occasionally making personal visits to members' homes or place of business to collect payments.
In 1983, Godfrey-Smith became CEO of Shreveport FCU and built the $1.9 million credit union into an $88 million CDCU operating seven branches, with an eighth branch planned.
Godfrey-Smith has also selflessly shared her knowledge with others, traveling nationwide and worldwide mentoring credit unions. In addition to her work domestically, she has traveled to South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and other locations outside the U.S., helping credit unions survive and thrive.
In late 2009, she convinced her board to merge a troubled credit union in the impoverished Mississippi Delta region, the First Delta FCU, a historic CDCU founded during the Civil Rights movement. The merger maintained crucial services in a community with few regulated financial institutions. Since taking in that credit union, Shreveport FCU has expanded its service to other parts of the Delta and operates three branches in Marks, Miss.; Clarksdale, Miss.; and Batesville, Miss. Under her management, the Mississippi credit unions have doubled in both assets and loans.
In 2010, Godfrey-Smith partnered with the City of Shreveport to open a Community Empowerment Center to deliver affordable financial services while offering training, counseling, job readiness and business development to low- and moderate-income residents. A second center is scheduled to open in Shreveport later this year, with a third being planned in Mississippi.
Conner and Godfrey-Smith will receive their awards at a special ceremony June 15, during the federation's 38th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved in Atlanta. For more information about the event, use the link.