By Jurry Taalib-Deen
Journal Staff Writer
The staff of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union honored members from the community who’ve helped make the union a success during its 22 years of existence. That show of appreciation took place on Saturday, November 17 at the Pinnacle in Maumee, Ohio, at the Union’s Appreciation Banquet.
Honored guests included Chief Brian Byrd, Toledo Fire Department, First lady Sheila Cook of New Life Church of God in Christ, Bernard ‘Pete’ Culp, retired school administrator, Jessica LaValley, nonprofit expert, Randy Oostra, chief executive officer of Promedica, Ann Riddle, executive director of Northwest Ohio Scholarship Fund, Celeste Smith, community and minority health supervisor at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, Michelle Fleetwood, wife to David Fleetwood, head of Local 500, and Tommy, and Tina Butts, business owners.
Suzette Cowell, President/CEO of Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, told those in attendance that the honorees have helped make the union a success over the years, and felt it was necessary to publicly honor those individuals.
“I believe in giving people their flowers while they’re still alive,” she told her audience.
Ms. Cowell further shared the trials the union went through over the years, some of which, may seem hard to believe, she said.
Ms. Cowell spoke of the many obstacles that her, and the other founders had to go through to get established. Closing down, and receiving bad press from Toledo’s daily newspaper, were just two obstacles the union faced during its infancy.
But it was the honorees that helped make the transition from infancy, to a fully established financial institute within the African American community.
Although it was the credit union honoring members of the community, the honorees quickly praised Ms. Cowell.
“The union is honoring us, but we should be honoring them,” Chief Byrd said. “They’re using their skills, and abilities to empower others who were blatantly denied by other financial institutes,” he said.
“After 22 years of existence, the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union is proof that black businesses can survive, and thrive,” said Pete Culp.