Orion Gives Back to Local Community

By Michael Waddell

Orion Federal Credit Union is making a big difference throughout the Mid-South area with its Orion Gives Back community involvement program, working with a diverse range of local nonprofit organizations and helping to shine a light on their various missions.

Orion Federal Credit Union is making a difference in the community with its Orion Gives Back program. The initiative sets aside $12,000 a year to give to smaller local charities.

(Orion Federal Credit Union)

“It’s worked out really well for the first two years of the program, and we plan to continue it for many years to come,” said Tara Smith, Orion vice president of retail.

The Orion Gives Back program sets aside $12,000 a year to give to smaller local charities, with a different nonprofit group receiving $1,000 and other donated goods and supplies each month. Orion employees also volunteer their time at the various organizations throughout the year.

“Some groups get so much money on a national level. We try to look for the organizations that might be just under the radar, where $1,000 is going to go a long way,” Smith said.

This month’s recipient is YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South. So far this year Orion has donated $7,500 and more than 1,000 items to seven local nonprofits, and since January 2012 it has given nearly $20,000 and more than 5,500 items, including backpacks, school supplies, coats, diapers and household items for kids.

The donated goods come from Orion employees as well as the credit union’s customers, who are able to drop off items at donation bins set up at the nine Orion branches across the city.

The program also has been able to give away a couple of foreclosed homes to families through the Habitat For Humanity program.

The idea for Orion Gives Back came in the fall of 2011, fresh on the heels of a name change and rebranding to Orion Federal Credit Union from Memphis Area Teachers’ Credit Union.

“We went from being state-chartered credit union to a federally chartered credit union, and we really wanted to get more involved in the community so everyone in Memphis knew we are not just here for the educators – we are here for anybody who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in the Greater Memphis area,” Smith said. “So we developed a program to give back to the community that has served us so well.”

Since the program’s inception, some of the groups that Orion has provided assistance to include Mid-South Food Bank, Memphis Family Shelter, Literacy Mid-South, Memphis Farmers Market, Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Youth Villages, Indie Memphis, CASA of Memphis & Shelby County, The Arc Mid-South, Friends For Life, Dress for Success, One Memphis, Hope House, the Salvation Army Kroc Center, the Memphis Police Foundation, the YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South and Porter-Leath.

“The Orion Gives Back donation was a tremendous help for Porter-Leath this summer,” said Rob Hughes, development manager at Porter-Leath. “The financial award filled several year-end needs across our six program focus areas. The donated books were a great surprise for our preschool students and teachers when they returned to school in early August, especially those in our new ASD-partner preschool classrooms. Porter-Leath appreciates Orion Federal Credit Union's generous spirit and steadfast support of the agency's mission to empower children and families to achieve a healthy, optimal and independent lifestyle.”

Several of Orion’s 150 employees spend time working at local farmers markets.

“Orion Gives Back has provided our Memphis Farmers Market with numerous eager, top-quality market Saturday volunteers, as well as donated awesome Orion bags with fun swag for our annual MFM Crop Hop 5K run,” said Beth Brock, Memphis Farmers Market immediate-past president. “It’s been a pleasure to have Orion’s support, and we hope to have them involved for years to come. We consider Orion a part of our MFM family.”