For Ellenton resident, community outreach means empowering those in need

CARL MARIO NUDI PHOTO
Ellenton resident Tameka Burch-Moore has worked at Manatee Community Federal Credit Union, 604 13th Ave. E., Bradenton, for about three years and is director of community engagement.

By CARL MARIO NUDI

If you ask Ellenton resident Tameka Burch-Moore to talk about herself, she will give you short, modest answers.

But if you ask Burch-Moore to tell you about her work as director of community engagement for the Manatee Community Federal Credit Union, she responds with passion and energy.

Her friend of about seven years, Yvette Little, though will tell you all the personal attributes that make Burch-Moore so effective in her job.

“Tameka is very tied in with our community and helps many nonprofit community organizations in various roles, said Little, who as owner of Simply Green Solutions, LLC, has worked with Burch-Moore on several community projects. “She is well-known in our community from many channels, and she’s a great connector of people and resources and knows how to help many.”

Burch-Moore’s career has been helping people in need for more than 25 years.

She started in what was then the Manatee County government Community Affairs department working in housing and community affairs when she was around 21 years old, and worked in that department for about six years, before moving over to Children’s Services, where she expanded her community outreach skills including organizing the Children’s Summit for 12 years.

After some consolidations of departments at the county, Burch-Moore completed her career with the county in the Community Services Department.

Working for the county agencies “helped me develop relationships with nonprofit groups and understand their missions, which also helped me be more relatable in Manatee County,” she said. “Working at the county gave me a lot of experience and allowed me to grow in my job.”

Being so well known around the county was one reason she was hired about three years ago for community outreach at the credit union.

“As a Community Development Financial Institution we’re designated as a low-income credit union,” Burch-Moore said. “I develop partnerships with organizations who are interested in helping individuals grow their financial assets.”

The CDFI Program is under the U.S. Treasury Department and offers money and training to financial institutions to help their communities grow.

The program was designed to help the “at least one quarter of American households (who) do not have a bank account or rely on costly payday lenders and check-cashing outlets,” according to the U.S. Treasury Department’s website.

“I like community outreach work because I’m able to empower someone to have financial independence, and to give them the knowledge to get up on their own two feet,” Burch-Moore said. “A lot of financial institutions focus on the youth to get them started early, which is good, but we have to help those in need right now become financially secure.”

This is where credit unions can be more effective than a bank, she said.

As a member-owned institution, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations.

They provide many of the same services as banks, such as checking and savings accounts, loans and ATMs.

Also, because they are member-owned, the members elect the credit union board of directors, and because the institutions are nonprofit, savings can be offered to the members in the form of lower fees and loan interest rates, and higher savings interest rates.

Manatee Community Federal Credit Union, 604 13th Ave. E., Bradenton, was founded in 1958 to service employees of the Tropicana processing plant down the street, but now has members across Manatee County.

Manatee Community Federal Credit Union, 604 13th Ave. E., in Bradenton, was founded in 1958 to service the employees of the Tropicana processing plant down the street.

About 12 years ago, the credit union changed its charter, expanding its membership to include any Manatee County resident.

In 2010 the credit union was designated a low-income financial institution dedicated to helping people underserved or unserved by commercial financial institutions.

And in 2012, MCFCU became part of the Treasury Department’s CDFI Program.

Burch-Moore said Manatee Community Federal Credit Union has several programs to help low-income members.

A new program called Reliable Ride was scheduled to go online soon, she said.

The program not only gives financial aid for qualifying members with low credit scores, but also provides financial and auto maintenance classes to prepare the member for car ownership.

Burch-Moore said transportation could be a problem for many low-income people when they apply for jobs.

“It’s always nice to see a successful client in a car,” she said.

Burch-Moore said one of her main responsibilities, as community engagement director was to provide educational workshops on financial management to groups at organizations such as Goodwill and Community Action Agency.

The participants learn about saving money, creating budgets, how to get a loan and responsible spending.

She said education about money was important to keep people from getting into financial trouble.

“We need to get financial education back into the schools, she said. “It’s not taught enough in the schools.

“If we can get them before they start college they may not get involved in dealing with predatory lending companies,” Burch-Moore said.

Born in Trenton, N.J., Burch-Moore was raised in Sarasota.

She moved to Bradenton when she started working for Manatee County, and only moved to Ellenton about three years ago.

“I was looking for affordable housing,” said the single mother of four.

Burch-Moore recently purchased a home near the historic Gamble Plantation on U.S. 301.

“Every day I would drive past the house on the way to town and watch it being renovated,” she said.

After living in an apartment near the Ellenton Outlet Mall, she said it was nice to have her own home to raise her son, Lawrence, the only one still at home.

Lawrence, 13, is in the seventh grade at Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, and studying graphic arts and drums.

Her daughter, Maleesa, 19, graduated from Manatee School for the Arts  in June, where she studied dance and stage makeup, and is now living on her own.

Burch-Moore’s two oldest children are married, making her a grandmother of one.

Although she does not talk much about her personal life, Burch-Moore said she was “actively involved in my son’s extracurricular activities, volunteer at my church and participate in many different community events at different levels.”

Little, who was Burch-Moore’s neighbor when she lived in the Ellenton apartments, added a bit more.

“She creates beautiful jewelry,” she said of her friend.

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