I love this story. A credit union branch in Redford, MI, received a mysterious envelope earlier this month containing a short note, a riddle, and $1,000. The credit union is Community Choice Credit Union, and with nine branches and more than $500 million in assets, it is no small shop. The note was signed “Anonymous 1679.”.
The assistant branch manager who processes mail found the envelope.
The riddle reads:
Know the clue
Know the who
The brief attached note says the money is to go toward fixing the broken sign out front of the building or to a charity of the credit union’s choosing. The credit union already has plans to fix the sign.
Chalk it up to a random act of kindness from someone with a case of the feel goods and an affinity for not-for-profit financial institutions? You could, but when looked at in context, this kind act may not be so random.
I wrote about Community Choice last summer in a piece titled A Plug In Michigan’s Brain Drain. The credit union’s Community Choice Foundation supports growth and investment in Michigan by encouraging local high school students to attend college in-state. The foundation, which was founded in 2008, doles out $100,000 in scholarships each year to high school students in the eight counties served by Community Choice. The criteria for selection includes GPA, volunteer service, a commitment to attend an accredited college in Michigan, and a pledge to use the education to give back to Michigan communities. Each scholarship is $5,000.
But the credit union’s community work goes beyond scholarships. Community Choice raised more than $885,000 and donated 1,300 employee hours to charitable causes since 2008. The credit union reimburses employees for up to 24 volunteer hours per year.
During the summer, Community Choice gave employees up to $200 to perform random acts of kindness. For example, the credit union might pay an expired parking meter, buy a stranger ice cream, or pick up a meal tab at a restaurant and leave a card saying: Community Choice Paying It Forward.
So sure, the $1,000 donation and the riddle might be a random act of kindness, or, it instead could be a thank you.
“It is because credit unions are community based, I think that compels people to make these kind of donations,” says Abbey Bierlein, foundation coordinator at Community Choice.