From left to right: Mckenzie Holmes (AmeriCorps VISTA), Hailey Johnston (Founder CEO), Nicole Andrino (Marketing Specialist), Mandy Adams (King St Branch Manager).

Bowater Credit Union Member McKenzie Holmes has won a $1,000 Pay It Forward prize for her favorite non-profit doing good in our area, Project Free 2 Fly.

Bowater Credit Union asks its members to nominate their favorite non-profit helping people in the counties eligible for credit union membership: Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and Polk.  Up to five $1,000 prizes are awarded each year and Project Free 2 Fly is the first winner of 2024.

Project Free 2 Fly is dedicated to supporting, nurturing, and empowering the women in our community who are transitioning from crisis recovery to sustainable life. Project Free 2 Fly serves uniquely in the re-entry space. They do not exist as first step intervention in a crisis but serve as a transitional program whose purpose is to help participants become self-sufficient as they reintegrate into society following crisis rehabilitation programming of various types.

Project Free 2 Fly teaches valuable technical skills and work ethic as women learn to sew and craft their handmade products. Through this process, women can financially contribute to their families while simultaneously working towards short-term and long-term goals that will change the course of their future. By developing these crucial work and life skills the women become productive members of the community. During their time in the program, women are connected with mentors and resources such as housing resources, clinical counseling, enrichment courses, and other various services which have resulted in 100% of graduated women exiting the program with stable housing, a secure job, livable wage, working budget, debt payoff plan, and an improved credit score with a continued credit repair plan.  “I support Project Free 2 Fly because these program efforts truly assist the women in developing propitious futures and cultivating the realization that she has the foundations and tools needed for long-term success and sustainability in the workforce and community”, wrote Holmes.

Ms. Holmes also wrote, “contributions from Bowater Credit Union would provide program support so Project Free 2 Fly can continue to support, nurture, and empower the women in need in our local community. $1,000 would cover enrichment courses for twelve months for two women in the program. These courses can include topics such as financial basics and budgeting, time management, parenting classes, and more.”

To learn more about Project Free 2 Fly, volunteer, or donate, you can visit https://projectfree2fly.com/ or contact Project Free 2 Fly by emailing [email protected].

The Pay It Forward program will continue again throughout 2024 and will award up to 4 more prizes.  Any member of Bowater Credit Union can nominate their favorite non-profit for a $1,000 Pay It Forward prize. The deadline to be considered for the next prize is May 31, 2024.

Bowater Credit Union began the Pay It Forward program in 2010 to give back to the community it serves.  Since the program’s inception, Bowater CU has given $58,000 to various charities making a difference in our community.  For more information, visit BowaterECU.org.

Bowater Employees Credit Union is a federally insured credit union offering savings, checking, loans, and financial education to those who live, work, or attend school in the counties of Bradley, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, and Polk.  They have four branches, over 19,000 members, and $250 million in assets.  To learn more about Bowater Employees Credit Union and its services, call 423-336-7268 or visit BowaterECU.org.