CU One of 40 Groups Behind Financial Ed Event

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About 200 people turned out for a special event of the Baltimore CASH Campaign, co-sponsored by Municipal Employees Credit Union.

The one-day program called Money Power Day! featured 40 organizations in a fair-like atmosphere that provided information on everything from obtaining and understanding a credit report and legal advice on taxes to immigration questions and information about grants to help the underserved purchase homes in the city.

"It went really well," said Joanna Ramani, director of the Baltimore Cash Campaign, a coalition of non-profit foundations and city government officials that create wealth opportunities for citizens. "We think over 200 people attended and over 60 people used the free tax preparation services."

Ramani said the 12 workshops organized by MECU included some in Spanish and were also well attended. They addressed topics such as identity theft, understanding credit, buying a home, buying a car, starting a small business and introduction to investing.

Dorothea Stierhoff, senior public affairs specialist of MECU, said it was exciting to see so many people get so much out of the event. "It's exactly what we're trying to do as a credit union," she said.

Ramani and Robin McKenney, assistant director of East Harbor Community Development Corporation, asked MECU to sponsor the event after learning about a similar event it held for its own members, Stierhoff said.

"It was really a no-brainer to get involved," Stierhoff said. "It was something we could make available to everybody with an emphasis on reaching out to people of modest means."

MECU's CEO joined the group in promoting the event via radio and television interviews. The group also sent out fliers and posted announcements throughout the city.

Stierhoff said comments from participants were encouraging.

"They were walking out of the workshops saying, 'Wow, that was just what I needed' and 'Boy, I really need to go and check my credit reports.' "

All the parties involved said they will "definitely" offer this event again.

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