BECU Expert Q&A with Tom Berquist: Annual Day of Service
This month, Chief Marketing Officer Tom Berquist shares how BECU is closing all locations for a day so employees can give back to our communities with our Annual Day of Service.
Tom Berquist has been with BECU for over 25 years and oversees the organization's marketing, brand, digital marketing & analytics, internal and external communications, social impact, philanthropy, affinity programs, and strategic planning. He is passionate about the cooperative model and is dedicated to partnering with others to live out BECU's purpose: bringing people together to improve the financial well-being of our members and their communities.
What is the purpose of Annual Day of Service, and how did it begin?
Our Annual Day of Service originally began in 2015 as a way to celebrate BECU's 80th anniversary. Since then, we have closed all of our locations and dedicated one day for employees to teach financial education to thousands of students across Washington state through financial reality fairs. The goal is for students to learn how to budget, manage money and make important financial decisions – all skills they will need to successfully manage their financial health as they become adults.
In 2019, more than 2,000 employees reached an estimated 11,000 students from 18 high schools in Puget Sound and Spokane, Washington. As a not-for-profit credit union, we believe that a healthy relationship with money starts at an early age. Our Annual Day of Service has traditionally been a way for us to take our focus on financial education and put it in action.
What is BECU doing for its Annual Day of Service this year?
Although COVID-19 has altered our everyday norms, our commitment to giving back to our communities is as strong as ever. With employees unable to visit local area high schools due to the pandemic, we developed a new approach for our Annual Day of Service that provides employees the opportunity to give back to our communities, while also supporting organizations that are helping those impacted by the pandemic.
On Indigenous Peoples' Day, a day BECU is normally closed, nearly 2,400 employees and their families will assemble over 25,000 kits from home that nine BECU partner organizations will distribute to the individuals and groups they serve. Several of the nonprofits are People Helping People Award winners and recipients of our philanthropic giving initiatives, including:
- Food Lifeline (Western Washington)
- FareStart (King County)
- Tukwila Children's Foundation (King County)
- United Way of King County (King County)
- Raising Girls (Pierce County)
- Housing Hope/HopeWorks (Snohomish County)
- Giving Back Packs (Spokane)
- Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery (Spokane)
- One80 Place (South Carolina)
The kits will vary by organization and will include personal care items, baby items, school supplies and/or snack packs.
How will this year's Annual Day of Service benefit the community?
When it comes to giving back, especially during these unprecedented times, any action big or small can make a difference. With this year's Annual Day of Service, we are focused on supporting individuals and families disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Whether it's helping elementary students with resources to better participate in distance learning to ensuring families receive access to personal care items, we look forward to serving the communities where our members live, work and play.
What are you most excited about for this year's Annual Day of Service?
Although it's tough to pinpoint just one thing, I'm excited to spend time (virtually, of course) with my colleagues putting together kits that will benefit our communities. We've encouraged employees to include their roommates, partners and/or children in the activity as well, which will be a fun addition to this year's event.
When we initially reached out to these nonprofits, they were extremely grateful and mentioned how these kits will make a difference in the lives of the individuals they support. It is a great example of how small things can oftentimes make a large and positive impact.