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Credit Union in San Ignacio launches expanded service center and Youth Month Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 February 2014 00:00

Ribbons were cut to a much expanded client center at the Saint Martin Credit Union’s Zimmerman Building at the Corner of Eve and Church Street in San Ignacio Town on Wednesday morning of this week. Present to do the cutting was Dr. John Morris, President of the SMCU as Ronald Hulse, General Manager of the 65 year old financial institution looked on to savour the moments.  The significance of the ceremonies is that SMCU can now have up to five teller stations open on Saturdays and pay days, serving many more customers at the same time, with its low interest loans. SMCU also took the opportunity Wednesday to declaring the Month of February as Youth Month, with an intention to offering financial education to young people.

The inauguration of spacious offices involved the participation of SMCU’s various partners in development.  It was also an opportunity for the many partners, such as Heritage Bank and the Belize Credit Union League, to learn about the special history of the SMCU.

According to Ronald Hulse, SMCU has had its own share of struggles to develop to this point in its history. Father Bernard C. Zimmerman S.J introduced the credit union movement to the people of San Ignacio and surrounding areas in 1949. Every Sunday afternoon, Father Bernard Zimmerman would give classes to a small group of people. As a result of these classes, the enthusiasm for the credit union grew to where the credit union received its certificate of incorporation on May 20, 1949. The board of directors in that early part of the SMCU’s history was made up of five volunteering persons, mainly Alfredo Zaiden as President, Wilfredo Zetina as Vice President, Manuel Aragon as Treasurer, Elena Awe as Secretary and Karina Burns as Education Director.

The Guest Speaker for Wednesday's event near the SMCU main office was Corine Fuller, the Executive Director of the Belize Credit Union League. Corine Fuller acknowledged the contributions that the SMCU has made to the Twin Towns. Fuller told the Guardian that she would like to see Credit Unions across the Country expand their financial services to offering special savings for retirement and would like to see that in the upcoming decade Credit Unions would reach out to more of the economically disadvantaged.

In a press release from the SMCU, February’s Youth Month is being envisioned as part of an ongoing effort to promote and market the vision, mission and philosophy of the credit unions as well as promote financial literacy and savings among our young people. As part of this activity, a quiz contest was held on Wednesday of this week, with the participation of several schools, at the Octavia Waight Center in San Ignacio.  Efforts are also now underway to involve several High Schools in the Cayo Area, such as the Saint Ignatius and Eden High Schools,  to participate in ‘Mad City Money,’ where students practice budgeting in realistic situations.

The SMCU is now a 7,000 strong member financial organization, with assets of over $16 million dollars. With its expanded service center now open, the SMCU will be able to reach out to more members at the same time. Already, the SMCU service center is offering opportunities for members to pay light, water, telephone and cable bills as well as offer money transfer services via Zitro Western Union.