It’s hard not to be biased about what a great place Blackheath is, and to not boast that it’s possible to go for months without even leaving the place!
In a community that has almost everything, we even have the good fortune to have our own Credit Union.
I’m particularly thrilled about the Credit Union structure as a way to keep money circulating ethically, and equitably, in a community. Our credit union, Family First, was started by factory workers in Lithgow in 1967, as a way to support workers by providing them with low interest loans, or credit.
The great thing about Credit Unions is that, as soon as you make a deposit, you become a voting member of a co-operative that exists for its members only … not to make profits for shareholders. That’s a big plus for a small community, because the mission of credit unions is to be “community-oriented” and “serve people, not profit” … and that’s exactly what our Credit Union does.
Last Christmas, Family First recognised the hard work and dedication of Roxanne Wilshire, the director of the not-for-profit Kinship at Christmas Foundation, by presenting her with a cheque for $1,115.
The Kinship at Christmas foundation provides a Christmas luncheon to people who have no family, to those who are alone on Christmas Day, and to those who’d just like to socialise and/or volunteer on the day. Not only does Roxanne co-ordinate and cater for between 150 to 300 people at this event, but she also makes hundreds of Christmas presents for the elderly residing in Blue Mountains nursing homes. Outside of that, she is a School Learning Support Officer at Megalong Public School who assists special needs children with development issues such as Autism.
Other Family First initiatives that return money to the community are the Community Grants Program, which is open to charities every year during April; and the Bonus Saver Account, which pays a “Social Dividend” (a percentage of the savings in that account that goes to the community). This dividend goes directly to a local charitable organisation every quarter.
Staff of the Credit Union actively participate in community activities, like the local Rhododendron Festival. To raise funds they join forces with the Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre to provide a sausage sizzle. Branch Supervisor Michelle Willis, Family First’s Chairman, CEO and Senior management, all volunteer their time on the day. Profits are given to charity and this year the Credit Union raised nearly $900 to donate to the Kinship at Christmas Foundation!
Food and beverages that were left over from the day were donated to the Neighbourhood Centre’s food drive –a great example of what can be achieved when community-minded organisations work together.
Ongoing support for the Neighbourhood Centre continues and The Big Fix would also like to acknowledge our gratitude to the Credit Union for providing support to print our magazine for the community.