It was just one day. But it was the result of months of planning. And the impact will last much, much longer.
On a sweltering summer Saturday, people in Montgomery, Alabama, poured into a building called the MAP Center. The facility used to house a local news station. The building’s purpose may have changed, but the impact is similar – empowering people with information. In this case, it was financial in nature.
“We work around numbers every day. We know how to set budgets, build savings, and reach a goal,” explained Robert Birmingham. He’s the Montgomery market executive for Regions Bank.
“What we’re doing here is taking our experience and turning it into a greater community benefit by meeting people one-on-one and showing them ways to build and take charge of their financial futures,” Birmingham added. “Financial wellness is one of the best ways we can give back. It makes me extremely proud to serve alongside so many of our Regions associates who have a heart for this community and desire to make a difference in people’s financial well-being.”
The associates are part of Regions’ Montgomery-area Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Network.
The network encourages, fosters, and advances inclusion not only within Regions itself – but also in the communities served by the bank.
That’s where the MAP Center – or the Ministry About People – came in.
The MAP Center is part of Mercy House, a nonprofit that helps people with essentials like clothing, food, and laundry while also providing education and training opportunities to support a better quality of life. A mission of New Walk of Life Church, Pastor Ken Austin believes this ministry can help end a cycle of poverty, homelessness, and unemployment.
“If you’re not managing your money and balancing your checkbook, your family is going to struggle,” Austin said. “People came with their checkbook, learned how to balance their checkbook, and walked out knowing what a budget is.”
The community resource day was the first large gathering Austin has hosted since COVID-19. Regions associates based their discussions on the bank’s free Next Step financial education tools, which are available to anyone, regardless of whether they bank with Regions.
Bank associates answered individual questions. They helped people with unique needs or challenges. And they helped address much more than money. Regions teams prepared and distributed lunch and coordinated with other community partners that provided school supplies, food, clothing and more.
“Every year, Regions associates log thousands of volunteer hours supporting opportunities that make the River Region a better place,” Birmingham added. “Our work with the MAP Center and Pastor Austin reflects the heart of our team and our desire to be more than a bank. Our focus is to invest in Montgomery’s success and more equitable outcomes for our neighbors across Alabama.”
Regions has DEI Networks in several states representing more than 14,000 associates. Shena Davidson and Edward Lubembe co-chair the Montgomery network, and Davidson, who also serves on the board of directors for the MAP Center, said it is powerful to see the impact of businesses collaborating with nonprofits.
“Planning for the future – a car, a home, or a job – requires dedication and a commitment to understanding budgeting, savings, and money management,” Davidson said. “It can seem overwhelming. But that’s why we’re here – to use our experience in ways that benefit others. That is our Regions culture at work and one of the ways our DEI Network is supporting inclusion.”
Lubembe leads banking teams that serve Regions customers at branch locations around the city. Financial wellness is available every day at those branches, he pointed out. But it’s also essential to proactively get into the community to meet with people outside the walls of the bank.
“Our branch associates are committed to helping people navigate their financial journeys,” Lubembe said. “So our work with the MAP Center provided another opportunity to put Regions’ mission of making life better into motion.”
Austin knows building more prosperity is a long-term journey. There are many more people to reach, as well. But this day represented significant progress along the way.
“We couldn’t have done that without the support of Regions Bank,” he said. “And we are incredibly grateful for their long-time support of our mission.”