Supporting the communities Regions serves through volunteerism is a key part of the company’s values. Groups across the bank regularly seek out opportunities to volunteer their time with local organizations and give back to the community.
Last year, the Legal department formed the Culture & Equity team to – among other things – provide focus and structure around their volunteer efforts. Because of their unique training and background, they look for opportunities to utilize their legal skills to help others. Recently the team, led by head of Litigation Kevin Patton, completed a program that provides financial wellness information to inmates at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.
In partnership with the Alabama nonprofit group Aid to Inmate Mothers, Patton and five other Legal associates presented a series of courses from the Regions Next Step program, which is a financial wellness program that inspires and equips participants with financial guidance, advice and tools.
“Women with children who are coming out of prison have had a tough time in the legal system,” Patton says. “Everyone deserves a fresh start, and we wanted to provide practical information to help them get on their feet as they transition out of the system.”
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the seminars were held virtually with 15 participants. Christine Baylet Bergeron, Community Engagement chair for the Culture & Equity team and an organizer for the event, says, “Even though we conducted the classes using video, we had really good interaction with the women participating.”
Everyone deserves a fresh start.
Kevin Patton, head of Litigation at Regions
The Legal team partnered with other groups in the bank, including Community Affairs and Community Financial Education experts in Marketing who provided training and guidance. “We selected topics and programs intentionally for this audience,” Bergeron says. “We wanted to make financial wellness approachable, so we started with basic money management, then moved to budgeting, credit, identity theft, and ended with the aspirational topic of home ownership.”
Everyone involved agrees the pilot program was a success. “The Director of Aid to Inmate Mothers, Carol Potok, said that her group had never done a project like this before and is thrilled with the partnership,” Bergeron says. “Officials at Tutwiler prison have reached out to request an additional program, in response to feedback from the participants of the initial series.”
The associates who presented the courses also reported a positive, inspiring experience and are planning another session later in the year – hopefully in person. Patton is encouraged by the success of the program and the enthusiasm of the team to continue this important work. He says, “We want to provide hope for these women and help them imagine a different future for themselves and their families.”