Across the nation, credit unions operate under the motto of People Helping People. General Electric Credit Union (GECU) acts on this philosophy on a local level through our Giveback Partners program, in which we strive to help address the unique needs and issues facing our communities. Each year we select three local nonprofits that mirror this philosophy of giving back. Discover our picks for 2021 below, and how GECU is contributing to their causes.
Get to Know Our 2021 Giveback Partners
La Soupe’s model is to rescue, transform, and share food. They accomplish this by taking over-ordered or "ugly" produce from local grocers and farmers, transforming it into nutritious soups, sides, and salads, and sharing the meals with families experiencing food insecurity.
Food insecurity is linked to many factors, including poverty. In Cincinnati, one in four people live in poverty, according to Census data.1 Where you live can also impact your access to fresh food. A food desert is an area with no or limited access to affordable, healthy food. When a grocery store closes in a low- to moderate-level-income neighborhood, residents often must travel outside of their community to shop. For individuals and families without access to a vehicle, this means factoring in extra costs such as bus fare or rideshare costs which can stretch their budgets further.
Some Hamilton County families living in poverty may also experience homelessness. Compared to January to November of 2019, the same stretch of time in 2020 saw the number of people living unsheltered on the streets increase by 28% (a total of 982 people).2
La Soupe launched its Community Kitchen Program in response to COVID-19. Through the Community Kitchen, they provide an average of over 20,000 servings a week (in addition to the 15,000 average servings La Soupe produces otherwise) to people affected by the pandemic. The program employed restaurant chefs and staff to lean on their culinary expertise and skills to increase meal production – and help their restaurant partners stay afloat during tough times.
La Soupe partners with food processing and retail locations like Kroger, Jungle Jim's, Castellini Company, Whole Foods, and SugarCreek, and transforms rescued food to share with their 64+ partner nonprofits. This way, nonprofits can focus on their mission without having to worry about also feeding their clients.
Figures reference data from La Soupe’s Community Kitchen Program.
La Soupe sets itself apart with a chef-driven model. They understand most people don’t know how to prepare meals from such a wide variety of ingredients. Typically, they focus on education surrounding how to cook healthy, cost-effective meals at home. Their Give a Crock classes teach attendees how to cook crock pot meals, and the Cooking Improv classes aim to improve cooking literacy for adults and youth while encouraging them to look at what is on hand to create a meal. These initiatives have been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.
Over the last two years, GECU donated $2,500 to La Soupe. This year, we supported La Soupe through funds raised during our 2021 Virtual SOUPer Bowl event. Learn more about La Soupe and their new 10,000-square-foot facility in Walnut Hills.
Music Resource Center
The Music Resource Center (MRC) is a nonprofit music studio for teenagers in East Walnut Hills – one of several nationwide modeled after the one started in Charlottesville, Virginia, with the help of the Dave Matthews Band. This multifaceted teen program uses recording, performing arts, and life skills mentoring to empower and create a sense of accomplishment in the urban community.
For a membership fee of $2 a month, teens in grades 7-12 can attend MRC to learn computer music production and recording, create multi-track recordings, and take private music lessons. The nearly 8,000 square-foot facility offers access to multitrack recording studios, practice rooms, rap classes, music lessons, performance opportunities, live FM radio station 95.7, and more.
The mission of MRC is to inspire teenagers in a culturally diverse setting to elevate lifetime and academic achievement. This is accomplished through music education and performance experiences that provide a safe alternative to the streets while also creating teaching opportunities for life skills.
MRC believes music has the unique power to unite diverse groups of people and is a disciplined and immediate gateway to emotional awareness. Teens who participate regularly in music not only hone their abilities to focus, think, organize, and work with others but begin to master their own, often challenging, emotional lives. Underserved teens can avoid harmful paths by dealing with their emotions and directing their desire for expression. Music provides both, and MRC makes it accessible to economically challenged neighborhoods in Greater Cincinnati. Ultimately, this allows local teens to be an example for others and fuel a cycle of achievement in their own neighborhood.
MRC’s generosity and commitment to the community reached new heights at the peak of last year’s hardship when the employees declined their paychecks to ensure MRC could pay its bills, then continued volunteering to make sure their students were cared for.
GECU is proud to partner with this music-focused nonprofit. Over the last two years, we have given $6,500 to MRC. Listen to Director Karen D’Agostino speech about the center in a 2019 interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer. Or, visit their website to learn more.
Operation Give Back
Operation Give Back (OGB) strives for equity in education and provides community outreach to students and families in need, inspiring all to realize their full potential. Their goal is for every student to have the opportunity to mature into their best selves educationally, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and professionally.
Located in Blue Ash, Operation Give Back works closely with Sycamore Community Schools to identify students in grades 1 – 8 who would benefit from academic support. About 45 students are enrolled per year, each of whom are transported by Sycamore District Buses for 2½ hours of after-school tutoring, three days per week. Student progress can be seen in improved grades, enhanced self-confidence, and life skills they can take onto higher education and into the working world. The Whiz Kids program extends the afterschool tutoring for one hour by focusing on reading literacy. Each student is paired with a caring adult who helps them improve reading skills and comprehension.
Each fall, OGB kicks off the school year by providing school supplies for over 540 children in a variety of local schools. All the supplies are donated by local churches, schools, businesses, and individuals. GECU has volunteered at this event in the past.
OGB also contributes to finding a solution for food insecurity. According to Feeding America’s 2018 Map the Meal Gap project, 35,240 children in Hamilton County are food insecure.3 Of this group, 41% are likely ineligible for federal nutrition programs.
It should come as no surprise that food is linked to better brain power. Food energizes us, and the brain accounts for 20% of the body’s energy usage.4 Because of this, hunger can make it harder to concentrate in the classroom, and hunger-related stress can even affect a child’s development.5
OGB welcomes over 50 local families to their onsite Food Pantry each month. The pantry offers a variety of nutritious foods and household items. During the school year, nutritious snacks and meals are sent home with Sycamore students, helping feed over 100 hungry children per week.
OGB also operates a Holiday Store to deliver donated toys, clothing, and food to over 150 less fortunate families in our three-mile service radius.
GECU has donated $1,250 in the past 2 years to support Operation Give Back’s Golf Classic fundraiser. You can learn more about this nonprofit here.
Giving back is at the core of what makes us GECU. We are honored to partner with the above nonprofits to make an impact on our communities. Learn more about our volunteer and support efforts through our community page. Contact email@example.com if there are other local nonprofits you know of in need of additional support. GECU loves to give back even outside of the Giveback Partners program!
1 U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Cincinnati CITY, OHIO. www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/cincinnaticityohio/PST040219
2 Amman, Drew. “Homelessness on the Rise in Hamilton County.” Https://www.fox19.com, 5 Jan. 2021, www.fox19.com/2021/01/05/homelessness-rise-hamilton-county/
3 “Map the Meal Gap.” Feeding America, map.feedingamerica.org/county/2018/child/ohio/county/Hamilton
4 Richardson, Michael W. “How Much Energy Does the Brain Use?” BrainFacts.org, 1 Feb. 2019, www.brainfacts.org/Brain-Anatomy-and-Function/Anatomy/2019/How-Much-Energy-Does-the-Brain-Use-020119#:~:text=For%20the%20average%20adult%20in%20a%20resting%20state,,very,%20very%20expensive%20in%20terms%20of%20energy%20use
5 “PDF.” American Psychological Association .