HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. – On Wednesday, February 22nd, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) hosted a luncheon at the League office for credit unions, interns, and representatives from the disability community to discuss the experiences of Cycle VII of the Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) internship program. This is the last cycle of the program, which was piloted two years ago in New Jersey. The BEST program is a collaborative project that provides internship opportunities for people with disabilities.
The group of interns, credit union representatives, and program partners at yesterday's luncheon.
During Cycle VII, which is still underway, seven credit unions are hosting interns for the six-week cycle: Affinity FCU, Credit Union of New Jersey, First Jersey CU, Healthcare Employees FCU, Merck Employees FCU, the New Jersey Credit Union League, North Jersey FCU, and Raritan Bay FCU. The Cycle VII interns are Dennis Ryan, James McGuire, Judy Rhodes, Jane Reppas, Linda Montervino, Markus Stergus, Nick Montervino, Robinlinda Mertz, and Rose Cascetta.
NJCUL President/CEO Paul Gentile opened the luncheon, welcoming all interns, credit union representatives, and program partners and supporters. He then turned it over to Pamela Owens of the Federation, who facilitated the meeting, opening the floor for all those involved in the program to share their experiences. Mark Lynch of the National Credit Union Foundation’s (NCUF) REAL Solutions, a supporter of the BEST internship program, then discussed how the program is mutually beneficial for interns and credit unions alike.
Angel Santos, NJCUL; Rosanna Rever, First Jersey FCU; Jen Seder, Healthcare Employees FCU; Shirley Spruill, Renaissance CDCU; Michelle Fitzpatrick, North Jersey FCU; and Mike Cirillo, Affinity FCU, accept their certificates of appreciation for their involvement in the program. Mark Lynch from REAL Solutions accepted his certificate earlier in the day.
Several credit unions as well as partner organizations were recognized for their dedication to the program. Affinity FCU, First Jersey FCU, Healthcare Employees FCU, North Jersey FCU, and Renaissance CDCU were honored with certificates of appreciation for their continued involvement in the program. The New Jersey Credit Union League and the NCUF’s REAL Solutions also received recognition for their support of the program.
The BEST program was developed by a partnership between the Federation, the National Disability Institute (NDI), and Allies Inc., a New Jersey based training group for people with disabilities, with funding provided by the Kessler Foundation.
The program has sparked national interest in the credit union industry and the involved partner organizations are working on developing ways to sustain the momentum of the program into the future.