Centris Federal Credit Union is a member-owned financial institution, and Dawn Gonzales has been Vice President, Community Development at Centris since 2015. Community development may not immediately seem like it relates to Centris’ everyday work of providing a variety of products and services for consumers and businesses, but it’s an essential part of its corporate culture. “In my job I’m looking at what we’re doing in the community,” Gonzales explained. “I’m looking for ways to be deeper entrenched in the community with our staff, and make sure we’re truly living our mission of being a trusted financial partner.”
In 2017, Gonzales oversaw the kickoff of a program giving employees 8 hours of paid time for community development. Centris partnered with several different nonprofits, including New Visions Homeless Services/MOHMS Place, Together, and Quality Living Inc. Nonprofits were selected by looking at both the needs of the community and the interest of the Centris staff. “We conducted a survey with our staff and we had some help from the Omaha Community Foundation in identifying where we need to be involved,” said Gonzales.
These initiatives support community development as well as professional development within the company. Gonzales values the way Centris employees internally apply the perspectives and experiences gained through corporate days of service. “You can tell there’s personal growth,” she said. “They’re getting outside of our business and they’re doing something in that space that allows them to view the world a little bit differently.”
Where community development is a component of the worklife at Centris, it is the entirety of Lutheran Family Services’ mission. Kathy O’Hara Brehm, Director of Public Relations at LFS, explained, “We look at the whole person and the whole community. Our goal is to enrich community life overall by providing services that help people grow strong.”
The LFS location in Sarpy offers behavioral and mental health services, substance abuse treatments, cutting edge trauma therapy, immigrant and refugee support, mental health services for children and youth, among many other resources. “All of these things are intended to help the entire family. It’s part of our name. We serve the spectrum of people who make up a family,” said O’Hara Brehm.
The Sarpy County location was chosen specifically to serve as the headquarters for the LFS At Ease program. “There are so many people here who are active and retired veterans and we’re very proud to be able to provide this support,” O’Hara Brehm said. LFS At Ease provides confidential, individualized counseling services for active military personnel, veterans and their families.
O’Hara Brehm looks forward to growing right along with Sarpy County. “Lutheran Family Services is working on ways to expand access to its services to more residents of Sarpy County and provide services in ways that make it easier for people get the help they need to heal and grow stronger.”