Communal wellbeing

Local credit union named Large Business of the Year

REWARDING Jennifer D'Amico, VP of marketing and marketing supervisor D’Wayne Rice with 2017 scholarship recipient Amanda Quon. Photo: Submitted

Choosing a financial institution is a serious matter. To find one that not only provides the necessary services but also treats the customer like a friend is extremely rare.

Since 1987, and the opening of the first branch of the Commonwealth Central Credit Union in Morgan Hill, this financial institution’s commitment to local residents and the community has been a steadfast fixture in the community. So much so that this year they were selected as the Large Business of the Year by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, March 3, Celebrate Morgan Hill invited the community to take part in its 60th celebration at Britton Middle School. The highlight of the event was honoring Commonwealth along with the seven-additional stand-out citizens and companies selected by the chamber for this year’s awards.

“Commonwealth Central Credit Union is a strong charitable supporter, active participant, and celebrated business in the entire Morgan Hill Community,” the Chamber says.

Commonwealth’s Vice President of Marketing, Jen D’Amico, explains what’s behind the core of the community-minded company.

“Our business is really about our members and our local communities,” D’Amico says. “And so, we genuinely care about those communities that we serve.”
In 2015 Commonwealth expanded its service to Morgan Hill with the opening of a second branch located in Cochran Plaza next door to Starbucks.
“We just had a really good presence here in Morgan Hill, a lot of community awareness and we wanted to be able to add another location to be convenient for our members,” D’Amico says.
“Our brand promise is that we’re here to improve the financial wellbeing of our members and our communities, and that their success is our passion. We’ve found a lot of success in Morgan Hill. We definitely have great partnerships and relationships here.”
Among those partnerships is Cecelia’s Closet, the organization founded by Cecelia and Gary Ponzini in 2013 in honor of Cecelia’s son Edward Boss Prado.
“With Cecelia’s Closet, it’s allowed us the opportunity to kind of use our branch offices as locations for drop-offs for different donation drives,” D’Amico says.
For over three decades Commonwealth has infused itself in the Morgan Hill community through its participation in community events and charities. The company’s employees are equally involved.

Every year employees from all five of the credit union’s south county branches eagerly volunteer in local community events including, the Freedom Fest, Taste of Morgan Hill, Holiday Lights Parade, Friday Night Music Series, and more.
“We love for our employees to get involved so they’ve been able to go and volunteer at some of Cecelia’s Closet events like the, Fit Out for Fall and the October Free Fest,” D’Amico says. “It’s been a really awesome thing that our employees get to participate in too.”
Commonwealth is a regular participant in the annual, “Rock the Mock”, a program created by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce offering high school seniors mock job interviews with local vendors.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for them to sit with somebody and do a mock interview while they’re preparing to go out in the world for college or a job,” D’Amico says. “On our side of it, it’s a great opportunity for our employees as well to sit in front of a student and interview them.”
An avid supporter of youth, Commonwealth’s former CEO, Doris Skora, founded an educational scholarship program nearly 30 years ago.
“She always had a passion to encourage young people to achieve a higher education,” Commonwealth employee of 17 years, D’Wayne Rice, says.
In his role as community marketing specialist, Rice has the privilege of delivering the good news to scholarship recipients, which he feels can, “make a difference in someone’s life.”
“Each student that I had the privilege to speak to was very grateful and humble,” Rice says. “It was very rewarding to hear the excitement in their voices when I told them the good news. I recall speaking to one student and after telling him the great news, I could hear his parents cheering in the background.”
D’Amico explains that high school students from every school are eligible for the scholarship program.
“We ask for student seniors in high school to apply and we give out $1,000 scholarships up to 20 people,” says D’Amico. “So, we’re not necessarily looking for students that have over a 4.0 GPA, we want to see how people are contributing to their local community.”
“Over the last two years we’ve seen the highest response that we’ve ever had before. We’re getting anywhere from 60 to 70 applications. We all love seeing how excited they are to receive that extra money for college.”
Rice believes that being selected as the Large Business of the Year by the community confirms that, “as an organization we are making a positive impact in our community.”
“I feel a sense of pride working for an organization that genuinely cares about the local community,” Rice says. “An organization that is aligned with my core values which makes coming to work easy and rewarding.”

Kimberly Ewertz

Kimberly Ewertz is a freelance writer for South Valley magazine and Gilroy Dispatch.
Kimberly Ewertz

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About Kimberly Ewertz
Kimberly Ewertz is a freelance writer for South Valley magazine and Gilroy Dispatch.