Northeast Times

Worldwide generosity

By defin­i­tion, Amer­ic­an Her­it­age Fed­er­al Cred­it Uni­on ex­ists to serve its mem­bers and the com­munit­ies in which they live and work.

But the lead­er­ship and staff of the Bustleton-based fin­an­cial in­sti­tu­tion have ex­pan­ded their in­ter­pret­a­tion of “com­munity” in re­cent years. Amer­ic­an Her­it­age has be­come a lead­ing ad­voc­ate and spon­sor of a Kenyan orphan­age, donat­ing tens of thou­sands of dol­lars in sup­plies and money to help 89 par­ent­less res­id­ent chil­dren and dozens more who live with foster fam­il­ies.

Em­ploy­ees at Amer­ic­an Her­it­age re­cently presen­ted a $6,000 check to World Coun­cil of Cred­it Uni­ons busi­ness man­ager Nicole Bice in sup­port of a con­struc­tion pro­ject at the Busia Com­pas­sion­ate Centre, in the East Afric­an coun­try’s bor­der re­gion with neigh­bor­ing Uganda.

Weeks earli­er, Amer­ic­an Her­it­age shipped 520 pairs of flip-flops to the same orphan­age. Em­ploy­ees, the cred­it uni­on’s dir­ect­ors and their coun­ter­parts from the Phil­adelphia Fed­er­al Cred­it Uni­on teamed to col­lect the foot­wear.

Mean­while, Amer­ic­an Her­it­age dir­ectly con­trib­utes $11,000 as an or­gan­iz­a­tion to the orphan­age each year to buy meals for the chil­dren.

“It costs el­ev­en thou­sand dol­lars a year to feed the kids and sup­port staff three meals a day,” said Bruce Foulke, the Amer­ic­an Her­it­age pres­id­ent and CEO who was re­cently named to the World Coun­cil board of dir­ect­ors.

“There isn’t fin­an­cial gain [to the cred­it uni­on]. It’s just the right thing to do,” said Bice.

The World Coun­cil got in­volved with the Busia orphan­age in 2007. Many of the chil­dren it serves have lost their fam­il­ies due to the AIDS/HIV epi­dem­ic and as a res­ult of vi­ol­ence dur­ing a hotly con­tested 2007 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion.

As the World Coun­cil’s pro­ject man­ager, Bice vis­its the orphan­age sev­er­al times a year and over­sees the coun­cil’s con­tri­bu­tions to the fa­cil­ity’s de­vel­op­ment.

The coun­cil con­ducts out­reach pro­grams in many re­mote re­gions, in­clud­ing parts of Cent­ral and South Amer­ica, the Carib­bean, Africa and Afgh­anistan.

“This (Busia) pro­gram is dif­fer­ent,” Bice said. “It’s not fun­ded by a single donor en­tity. … There are a lot of or­gan­iz­a­tions, cred­it uni­ons, who have come in and got­ten in­volved. But none to the ex­tent of Amer­ic­an Her­it­age.”

Foulke said he first be­came in­ter­ested in Kenya in 2000, when he was chair­man of the Pennsylvania Cred­it Uni­on As­so­ci­ation, which hos­ted a vis­it by sev­er­al Kenyan of­fi­cials. Foulke re­cip­roc­ated with a vis­it to Kenya in 2001.

When the World Coun­cil’s ini­tial pro­gram com­mit­ment to the Busia orphan­age con­cluded in 2010, Foulke urged the coun­cil to start a new phase of it.

This year, the coun­cil set a goal of rais­ing $120,000 to build a new fa­cil­ity for the orphan­age with a ma­sonry found­a­tion, well and drain­age sys­tem. Con­struc­tion re­cently began on that $170,000 pro­ject. Al­most $100,000 of it is already paid for, Bice said. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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