By Cary Rosenbaum of the CUJ
MISSION – Nixyaawii Community Financial Services held its grand opening in August, allowing for tours, souvenirs, food and a DJ.
The event — which was postponed from July due to the record heat — was also a reuniting moment for the seven-person staff.
“We certainly heard so many positive compliments,” Tovey said. “I cannot explain how wonderful it was to welcome our community here. But, for me, it was really the very first time I had all our seven staff physically in the same place after a year and a half of working separately and remotely.”
Business Development Service Manager Raven Manta said she was “extremely excited” that the opening moment had come.
“Feels like yesterday I was doing surveys at Mission Market, that was in 2016,” Manta said. “ I really wanted to be a part of the uplifting change that was to come. It has always been about uplifting our people and giving the support and tools to take charge of their financial health. Watching this project grow from writing the ideas to an actual physical location with other workers is amazing.”
Tovey said having a store front feel, which Coyote Business Park allows, is huge for NCFS.
“As all our programs—Business Development, Homeownership, and Credit Programs—are long-standing and very successful programs with many successes, it’s still a process to advise our customers and clients that we’re here now,” Tovey said. “All these programs have maintained high standards for confidentiality and being now an independent, wholly owned entity of the Tribes, having the arm’s length separation is appealing.”
Manta followed, “My hope is that my community members will feel fully comfortable talking more about finances. We are providing tools and resources that will help people improve their quality of life.”
Tovey shared NCFS has new loan products under final development, such as small business, Food Sovereignty and land leases.
“My other primary focus is to get well settled with new spaces, processes, and policies, and CDFI industry software,” he said. “Certainly, we’re always on the hunt for additional capital for these and other loan products. We’re very interested to hear from our community what they would like to see here.”
The Credit Union’s drive-through window has been open since July 1st, Tovey said.
“We were fortunate to have the same building contractor that did the Yellowhawk drive through Pharmacy window and he got the same configuration for our set-up,” Tovey said. “Our staff are reporting that more and more of our customers are discovering it with elderly customers and some that are being extra careful due to the COVID situation. The window also has a drop slot if anyone is coming by to drop of an application or payment anytime of the day, should offices be closed.”
As COVID-19 cases increase in the area, Tovey said he almost considered canceling the grand opening.
“In many ways, we were fortunate that we started our floor plan during the pandemic and were able to include features toward maximal protection for staff and customers, including the separated reception area, the drive through window, all staff in their own offices, and viral filters on the air handling system,” Tovey said. “It’s probably no big secret that I almost canceled the grand opening events given the spiking numbers and all the happier it seemed to work out well with crowd social distancing space, limited office tours, and separating the ribbon-cutting from the general public food event.”
Tovey highlighted upcoming workshops available to the community in a hybrid-learning format.
“Going forward, our Business Services will provide workshops in hybrid format,” he said. “Please look in CUJ or go to nixyaawii-cdfi.org to look at the class schedule. It would be next to impossible to close the location and try to work remotely. As a transactional business, it just requires being here to process paper. Should it be required—not knowing the future—we certainly have the options of exclusive drive through, Zoom group and individual meetings, and mail transactions.”