They say health is wealth, but at three community gardens in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the two have truly become partners.
Beginning last Saturday, around a dozen of local residents participating in the free yoga class offered at the Garden of Hope community garden, located at 392 Hancock St, between Throop Ave and Marcus Garvey Blvd., got another free and unexpected treat—they received answers and information around their local banking options.
The initiative is part of an outreach campaign by the Brooklyn Coop Federal Credit Union to interact with local residents in community settings that are relaxed, intimate and friendly— the same qualities you’ll find inside Brooklyn Coop, expressed Trina Morris, who organized the effort.
Just one year ago, Morris was a new customer of Brooklyn Coop looking for banking support for her own small business, Style Root Public Relations.
“One of the first things I noticed when I first walked in was how they were greeting everyone by name,” said Morris. “They handled me like they had a personal interest in seeing my business grow, and I was just so impressed with that.”
Morris said after attending Brooklyn Coop’s annual shareholder’s meeting and witnessing how transparent the bank was in sharing its yearly financial goals with its members, she took it personal that they were so personal: Immediately, she began working on a plan for getting the word out to more members of the community. Not long after, Brooklyn Coop became her client.
“They talked about events they had sponsored in the past,” said Morris. “And when you think about that sponsorship, you think about putting your name on something and hoping it goes well. But if it’s truly about meeting the customer where they are, then we should be where they are. So I thought, ‘What about community gardens? People go to their local gardens to relax, take free yoga and dance classes… I thought it would be a great way to interact directly with the community.’”
Morris linked with the New York Restoration Project, an administrator over many of the community gardens in Bed-Stuy and across the city. After getting the green light from Restoration Project to double up efforts around spreading the word of the gardens’ free outdoor programs and the Coop’s services, it became a hyperlocal love fest.
“This feels really good; it feels like exactly what we need to do,” said Samira Rajan, CEO of Brooklyn Cooperative FCU. Rajan joined Morris outside of Garden of Hope early Saturday morning to answer one-on-one questions about loans, refinancing or opening a new account.
“There’s all kinds of people walking by with their dogs and yoga mats and little kids in the strollers, and they all stop and say good morning,” said Rajan. “One of them talked to me this morning about refinancing his mortgage, which is perfect! I feel like this is the right way to communicate to people not only that we are here, but also, this is what we’re here for.”
In addition to Garden of Hope, other gardens where you will find Brooklyn Coop throughout the summer months include Jane Bailey Memorial Garden on Green Ave., and Target Community Garden on Bedford Ave.
For each new member that opens an account and says they were referred by the community garden (or see Morris or Rajan outside), Brooklyn Coop will donate the $25 new membership fee to the garden.