A room with a heart

How Meridian is using a simple branch meeting room to keep a community strong and vibrant

The Stitch and Share quilting group, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Sweet Adelines, a community chess club, Orangeville Minor Softball, a local poodle owners group and dozens more charities, businesses and community groups all have two things in common.

First, they’re all in Orangeville.  Second, they all meet at the Meridian Credit Union Orangeville branch.

Planning for the community

In-kind donations are a key part of Meridians corporate social responsibility program – the Good Neighbour Program.

When it built its new branch in downtown Orangeville in 2000, Meridian decided to build a separate outside entrance to its staff meeting room so that it could be used even when the branch was closed.  Then Meridian invited community groups in.

“We had no idea how successful it would be. The room is booked almost every day, morning, noon and night, by groups in the community,” Karen Foster, manager of Meridian’s Orangeville branch said.

A virtuous cycle of giving back

While the room is available at no charge to local charities, Karen said she decided to start charging a nominal fee to businesses that use it.  As a result, the branch raises about $2,000 a year which is donated to local charities.

For community groups, Karen has come up with another idea of giving back.

For example, the Stitch and Share quilters, who used to meet in a local church basement, have been using the Meridian room to meet and sew every Wednesday afternoon for more than three years.  They have become such a fixture that Meridian members who bank at the branch on Wednesday afternoons have come to recognize the group.

“The room is bright, with lots of windows and has a kitchen, so it was a perfect place for them to meet.  While Stitch and Share is not a registered charity, it didn’t feel right to ask them for money.  I decided to ask them to make a quilt that Meridian could donate to a worthy cause,” Karen said.

Last year, Meridian donated the quilt made by Stitch and Share to the Dufferin Museum which raised ($1,200) to support the museum through a raffle.

Creating a win-win-win situation

“Every one wins – the local businesses and groups that need a room to meet; the charities in the community that get a bit more money to continue doing great work; and Meridian, which is committed to building stronger communities,” Karen said.

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