How do you make a credit union annual meeting fun during a pandemic that requires you to be socially distanced? The first thought for many would be a virtual meeting. Not good enough for Heritage South Community Credit Union members! In fact, the Heritage South 2021 Annual Meeting included a lot of horn honking!
Heritage South Community Credit Union’s annual meeting has been a premier event for its members for many years. Historically held in February each year and always well attended, the meeting typically features a “country ham breakfast” where members have the opportunity to fellowship and visit before it is time to get down to the business of the credit union. Equally as important to the members as the country ham is the drawing for cash door prizes after the business meeting.
Faced with the dilemma of how to conduct an annual meeting at a time when in-person gatherings have been difficult, Heritage South began to study the feasibility of a virtual annual meeting. When the Board of Directors later broached the subject of a virtual meeting, CEO Laura Parham replied, “We are looking into it, but it just didn’t feel right for our membership.”
After a few management brainstorming sessions, the idea of a drive-up parking lot annual meeting was kicked around. “During the pandemic, many area churches have held services in their parking lots, so it seemed like something we could do,” said Parham.
The Heritage South staff talked with some of these churches to learn about the challenges they encountered. The sound system was a problem for several. “When one of the church deacons I spoke with shared that they had difficulty finding an FM transmitter powerful enough to cover the whole parking lot, I immediately thought of a drive-in movie theater,” Parham related. “While many drive-in theaters have closed, there was a popular one in Lewisburg, Tennessee, just down the road from one of our branches!”
From there the team got to work, and as they say – the rest is history!
“Being in the south and from a manufacturing and farming community, ingenuity and using what you have available is the norm for most of us. We had a hay trailer hauled in to make a stage and used golf carts to deliver boxed country ham breakfasts to each vehicle as well as the door prizes to the winners.” Marketing Director, Wes Trundle said. “The members who attended were extremely grateful that we made the effort for an in-person meeting that was both safe and a bit nostalgic for many of them. I heard more than one comment about the good ole days at the drive-in movie.”
As members listened via their car radios, various credit union board members took to the stage to report on the health of the credit union and events from the past year. Being an official meeting of the credit union, attendees were also asked to offer motions and vote on certain matters. Usually, this is as simple as saying ‘aye,’ but a different approach was needed. “We discussed how to handle this in our planning,” reported Trundle. “I have to say, ‘All in favor please honk your horn!’ will forever be my favorite way to conduct an annual meeting.”
The meeting was so successful in fact, that the management team is considering the possibility of doing it again next year with a few modifications. Parham jokes, “I suppose I am dating myself when the discussion of an FM transmitter made me think of the drive-in movie theatre, but in this case, my teenage experiences paid off. I really never had permission from my parents to go to the drive-in. My Mom probably rolled in her grave and please don’t tell my Daddy!”
Heritage South is a community-chartered credit union headquartered in Shelbyville, TN. Serving three counties south of Nashville, HSCCU was established in 1957 as EPCO Credit Union at the Empire Pencil Company before changing names in 2006. Heritage South Community Credit Union is federally insured by the NCUA and is an Equal Housing Lender.