Making Dreams Come True – The Story of a Credit Union, a Soup Kitchen and a Commercial

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BY JODY FISHER

In this Q&A session, see how a TV ad campaign quickly turned into a real-life scenario for one credit union. The charitable collaboration that resulted from this coincidence offers practical insight into how all credit unions can put their mission of serving their communities into genuine action.

If Ocean Financial Federal Credit Union (OFFCU) hadn’t decided to shoot a TV commercial as part of its recent rebranding program, no one would have known that a local soup kitchen was in need of a new stove to continue to serve hot meals to hundreds of needy people every day.

As a local Catholic credit union headquartered in Oceanside, NY on the south shore of Long Island, Ocean Financial’s DNA has long been steeped in community involvement. CEO Joe Garay is a self-described “George Bailey type,” straight out of the 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” His father founded the credit union in 1969 and Joe came of age learning the business and now is at the helm of its $316 million in assets.

In embarking on a recent rebranding campaign, Garay hired Austin & Williams, a Long Island-based ad firm, which created a fictitious commercial concept about giving back to the community. One of the commercials featured a soup kitchen volunteer who, when the invented soup kitchen’s stove gave out, went to OFFCU for a loan to donate a new one.

The actress who played the volunteer in the commercial, Donna Martini, had actually volunteered at The Interfaith Nutrition Network (The INN), the Hempstead soup kitchen, and had contacted them to see if the commercial could be set in the facility.


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