TwinStar Credit Union Helps Children Find Their Voices

Drawing submitted to “Voices of Children” contest by Richard, age 10.

Shelly Willis is grateful for the support her nonprofit, Family Education and Support Services, gets from all its private sector partners.

However, reflecting on her partnerships with Olympia-based TwinStar and O Bee credit unions, Willis adds, “It’s truly the credit unions who have asked us: ‘How can we help you?’ They are genuinely invested in doing what they can do personally and professionally.”

For the past decade TwinStar has been 100% invested in the organization’s “Voices of Children” project. It’s both a contest and a collaboration open to children ages 5 to 19 and who are being raised by a relative.

“For every one kid in foster care, there are eight kids living with grandparents,” Willis says.

“Voices of Children” invites these youngsters to share their thoughts and feelings in essays, poems, and drawings. The contest receives about 50 entries each year, including one this year from 11-year-old Courtney, who started her essay by writing: “Not so long ago there was a little girl who lived in a not so nice world.”

Families gathered at the Voices of Children awards celebration held at the Washington governor’s residence.

“That little girl was me,” she wrote at the end of her essay. “I have a new name now and a new life in a happy world.”

Willis remembers asking TwinStar to sponsor “Voices of Children” the first year. And she says, “They’ve stayed with us through our tenth year.”

TwinStar collects submissions, covers the printing costs, provides volunteer judges, and awards six winners (two in each age category) $100 each, plus the credit union pays for the winners and their families to spend the night at the Great Wolf Lodge.

Matt Devlin, TwinStar’s Chief Marketing Officer, says his credit union participates in a number of other community projects during the year, some larger and more time-intensive than “Voices of Children.”

“To me, this is the most meaningful,” he says. “Just to see the faces on the kids is precious.”

The credit unions of Oregon and Washington not only improve their members’ lives, they are foundational to the entire Northwest economy. Learn more here.

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