WAIMEA — When Justin Ganaden, executive vice president of the Kauai Community Federal Credit Union, was a student at Waimea High School, he squandered his loose change on soda and cheeseburgers at Yumi’s.
“We never had an opportunity like this,” Ganaden said during Wednesday’s blessing and opening of the Menehune Credit Union. “When I was in school, and we had loose change, we either bought soda from Ms. Joyce Evens, or cheeseburgers at Yumi’s.”
Ganaden was representing Tess Shimabukuro, the KCFCU president and CEO, at the opening that is a partnership with Waimea High School and the KCFCU. It is the third student-based credit union partnership for the KCFCU after opening its first branch at Kapaa High School in spring 2016.
The opening of Menehune Credit Union has a mission of “Paving the financial path for the generations to come.” The mission statement and the logo are a collaborative effort of the Waimea High School student leaders, KCFCU staff, and students in the Waimea Graphics Design class.
Irving Soto of the KCFCU is a WHS alumnus who did not have this type of financial literacy education.
“I did not know how to write a check,” Soto said. “I was lucky that when I opened an account at the bank, they taught me how to do things like write a check and balance the checkbook. The opening of the Menehune Credit Union brings this type of education to the students who were trained by the credit union in a manner similar to the training our staff goes through.”
Jasabelle Cudanes will be the manager of the Menehune Credit Union along with KCFCU Westside Supervisor Nicholle Mata. The Menehune Credit Union will be open each week on Wednesdays when school is in session, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., in Room I-125.
During its operating hours, Menehune Credit Union will accept cash and check deposits from students and staff members of KCFCU, and allow withdrawals of up to $20. In addition to basic transactions, all students who visit Menehune Credit Union will have the opportunity to learn about savings accounts, checking accounts, debit cards, online banking and credit union philosophy.
Monica Belz, the KCFCU vice president of marketing, said the intent of the Menehune Credit Union as well as the credit unions at Kauai and Kapaa high schools, is to embed financial literacy into the learning experience at high school.
“Financial literacy is especially attainable when acquired at an early age,” Belz said. “We aim to equip our young people with the knowledge and hands-on practice before they leap into the financial real world.”
Initiatives such as in-school student branches coupled with teaching the Junior Achievement curriculum in the classrooms offer students a meaningful learning dynamic where they can immediately apply their acquired knowledge, she added.
“We believe a community with financially literate citizens contributes to a stronger economy, both locally and globally,” Belz said.
Kauai Complex Area Superintendent William Arakaki said the addition of the credit union to the financial literacy programs is a benefit for everyone.
“It’s like Mr. Soto said,” Arakaki said. “The credit union allows students to learn what is important and will impact them for their entire life. As an example, when my daughter’s phone broke, she said, ‘I can pay,’ because she has a job and is a member of the credit union where she keeps track of what she’s making and saving.”