First Commerce CU brings home the national win!

Congratulations First Commerce Credit Union! First Commerce CU has been announced by the CUNA National Awards Committee as one of the national 2020 winners of the Dora Maxwell Award. The Dora Maxwell Award is presented to credit unions for outstanding social responsibility projects in their communities.

“Congratulations to the 2020 CUNA Award winners who are being recognized for their commitment to their communities, particularly in a time when they’re needed the most,” said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. “We celebrate their efforts in social responsibility, the credit union philosophy and financial education.”

cecilia homison
Cecilia Homison, First Commerce CEO

First Commerce CU is located in Tallahassee, Fla., with offices in northern Florida and South Georgia. The credit union was recognized for its #LocalStrong initiative, which created a wave of support spreading across the U.S. and into Canada helping to infuse more than $1 million into local economies during a time of great need. Upon launching #LocalStrong, First Commerce quickly challenged other credit unions, businesses and organizations to join the movement by implementing similar programs. Each time, they accepted.

The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) and the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation also accepted and helped take #LocalStrong to a whole new level by launching a regional program to match funds of participating credit unions across Florida, Georgia and Alabama. From there, #LocalsStrong took off, moving across the United States and into Canada.

“It is truly an honor for First Commerce to be recognized for our #LocalStrong initiative,” said First Commerce CEO Cecilia Homison. “This effort exemplifies what First Commerce and our team members stand for – people helping people. #LocalStrong was a meaningful way for us to give back and let small businesses know we are always here for them. The most inspiring part of #LocalStrong was how personal it became for our team. They jumped in to help the people and organizations they knew needed it most.”

First Commerce created #LocalStrong in March 2020, as communities began closing down in response to the pandemic leaving many small business owners struggling to stay afloat. The #LocalStrong initiative provided immediate, local support for small businesses. The idea was simple. First Commerce empowered its team members to make purchases online or over the phone from locally owned businesses by giving them each $25 to purchase a product, service, or gift card/gift certificate from a favorite local business. Team members could then choose to donate their purchases to a local organization or individual in need. The first wave was so successful, First Commerce funded a second wave for its 200 team members. Ultimately, First Commerce provided nearly $10,000 in support to communities across North Florida and South Georgia.

As one of many team efforts inspired by #LocalStrong, the First Commerce Accounting Department pooled together their money and came up with a plan to pay it forward. Team members contacted the Activities Director at Center Pointe, which is a nursing home facility, and asked about ways they could help. Immediately, the Activities Director responded, “They would love cupcakes!” The team called Small Cakes Cupcakery and ordered sweet treats for the residents and patients. And, during the ordering process with the Baker at Small Cakes, they shared how touched and excited they were for the support.

The CUNA National Awards Committee also announced the other 2020 recipients of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award, the Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Award and the Desjardins Awards for Financial Education. The awards, which are given in several credit union asset sizes, were selected among the winning entries at a league level.

For details, stories and photos related to #LocalStrong, as well as other ways First Commerce supports the communities it serves, visit

Written by
Ann Naiman
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The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates represents 302 credit unions in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, with a combined total of $175 billion in assets and more than 11.6 million members. LSCU & Affiliates provides legislative and regulatory advocacy; education and training; cooperative initiatives (including financial education outreach); public messaging; information services; and business solutions.

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