Westmark Credit Union Employees Serve Homemade Meals and a Side of Hope to Hungry Idahoans

Every day on her way to work, Lorie Martin passes the City of Refuge, a shelter run by the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission.

The City of Refuge provides food, clothing, and shelter for men recovering from addiction and working to get back on their feet. The Rescue Mission serves meals to all who come to the table.

“I see people standing on the streets, waiting for a meal. It just breaks your heart,” says Martin, VP Branch Manager at Westmark Credit Union.

As a credit union manager and caring member of her community, Martin decided she needed to do something to help those hungry people get a meal — and, perhaps, some hope. She asked her coworkers if they wanted to join her, and they readily agreed.

Polly Simpson, Westmark’s Chief Marketing Officer, approved Lorie’s request and contributed the funds from the credit union’s community involvement budget to purchase food for those in need.

“We like to do our part,” Simpson said. “Whether that’s planting flowers at the zoo, building beds for children who currently don’t have one, or buying food. I set money aside every year so we can do things like this.”

In January 2020, a few weeks before the coronavirus pandemic hit the Gem State, Martin and her coworkers bought supplies at the grocery store and filled the Rescue Mission kitchen with the sounds of cooking and the scent of homemade tacos, Spanish rice, refried beans, and guacamole.

There was enough to feed 75 diners that day, including seconds for those who wanted them.

“We made everything from scratch,” Martin said. “They said, ‘Thank you so much, it’s been so long since I had a homecooked meal.’”

And then, like most communities across the nation, much of Idaho Falls shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Community events that Westmark typically supported with dollars and volunteers — the parades and children’s events — were cancelled. But Martin and her credit union colleagues realized they could go back to the Rescue Mission, which had seen an influx of new people as businesses had shuttered.

They shopped and returned to the Rescue Mission kitchen on a Sunday afternoon in September. Only this time, they wore masks and gloves and observed social distancing guidelines. Martin says they served 75 again that day. The menu: spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread. The food was prepared and passed, piping hot, through a window to hungry folks.

“Everybody was eager to do it,” Martin said. “The diners loved it, and so did we.”

Editor’s note: This story, and many others, are examples of the work credit unions do every day to support communities and to promote financial well-being. NWCUA is celebrating this work in Anthem with the release of the Economic and Community Impact reports, which will be available soon.

Posted in Article Post.