As you all know, we are living through a very difficult time right now. We’ve been facing a once-a-century public health and economic crisis in our country and trying to cope with things the best we can. And now, a painful series of events has brought the racial injustices and socioeconomic inequities our country has long been facing into sharp focus. We have been in regular communication sharing thoughts with Hiway associates, but now we’d like to share a few thoughts with all of you — our credit union member-owners.

Today is Juneteenth, an important day in history for our Black community, and now more than ever an important symbolic day for our nation. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas to share that the Civil War had ended and those who had been enslaved were now free. This marked two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, but between the war and the slowness of travel at the time, it took that long for the important news to reach the last state in the union. On this day, finally, ALL were free. Today is a timely day to share our perspective with all of you about George Floyd, racial inequities and injustices, and what has happened in our community, and our country, over the last few weeks.

We are all familiar with the circumstances around Mr. Floyd’s death. We all clearly saw what transpired on video as he was callously killed at the forever changed intersection of 38th and Chicago. Please note we are not here to make a blanket criticism of police officers; at Hiway, we have long been great friends to and partners of law enforcement. We know there are a great many wonderful, caring officers in our local St. Paul PD, our partners at the State Patrol, and all the others, and we know many of them personally. We are certain many officers, and many other Americans of all races looked on this sadly and just said “why?” – why can’t we seem to stop this? In the aftermath, we saw genuine, righteous and peaceful protests, tragically followed by anger which morphed into unfortunate community destruction and opportunistic criminal activity.

Today, our streets are again generally peaceful. Demonstrations here, and across the country, continue speaking out against systemic racism and inequities in America. We are all relieved to move past the violence of the recent riots, and as we start the rebuilding and healing process in our cities, we cannot lose sight of the ‘why’ behind the protests. We need to act now — all of us — to be part of the solution.

Our Commitment to Our Community

At Hiway, we have a long history of supporting the communities we serve. Many of our associates and our members live in areas most affected by the unrest. Our headquarters and main branch are situated in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul, which is a rich ethnically and racially diverse area. Our partnership with the St. Paul school district includes providing services and education to students who attend Como, Harding, Highland and Johnson High Schools, and three of our schools are home to a very high number of economically disadvantaged students. We’ve partnered with the district, as well as the city of St. Paul, on initiatives to promote financial empowerment. So, this kind of work isn’t new to us. But we are facing it now with renewed passion and focus.

We want to tell you all: at Hiway we are committed to finding ways our organization and our associates can be part of the solution to inequity and racial injustice. In the immediate aftermath of the recent unrest, we have made donations to honor the memory of George Floyd and to support local relief efforts. We quickly brought together an “action team” of associates across the organization dedicated to helping the Twin Cities community recover, and this team has been out on the streets providing needed supplies and volunteers to neighborhoods in South Minneapolis, North Minneapolis, and St. Paul’s Midway area. We have distributed water to marchers and protesters, and water and supplies to Minnesota National Guard citizen-soldiers. We’re proud of these short-term efforts, and we intend to continue them, but the more important mission of our Action Team will be longer term. This group, comprised of members of our Community Service Committee, our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group, and our Management team, will be focused on what positive actions we can take at Hiway as our community and our country is calling for change.

Our Commitment as an Employer

As white men, we know we can never truly understand what it is like to be a Black American. But we do understand that for our Black community, it must seem like white America just doesn’t care. However, we believe — and hope — recent events have shown that there really are a great many people across all spectrums of life who truly do care and who do want to try to build a more compassionate, just and equitable society.

As leaders of our credit union we can assure you that we care, and Hiway cares. As we stressed to our associates as events unfolded several weeks ago — George Floyd matters. Black lives matter. Hiway will always strive to be a place that truly recognizes that everyone has worth, and dignity, and that we live the ideals of acceptance, equality, compassion, and caring in everything we do — regardless of race, nationality, background, gender identity, orientation, or economic status. We are incredibly lucky to be part of a company, within a community, where we have an amazing diversity of people, backgrounds and experiences. We will continue to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization — an organization of individuals with compassion for each other, our members and our community. We will always try to improve, and we will not accept anything less.

This year, to honor Juneteenth and the freedom granted to all enslaved Americans, we are donating $5,000 to the following non-profits, all of which do terrific work on issues facing our Black community:

While our office will remain open to serve our members, we are providing all associates a paid “floating” holiday. Our message to associates is that they consider using this time to educate themselves about the history of Juneteenth and the long fight for civil rights in our country, or to find ways to give back to our community in acts of service. We plan to continue this in 2021 and beyond — we fully support the momentum we see around the country in making this a more formal holiday.

At Hiway, we know we can’t change the world and society on our own. But we will not be silent, and we will take actions to be a positive force for change. And if we all take this approach, we collectively can make a difference. The time is now.

Please take care, and love and support one another through these troubled times.

Dave Boden, President/CEO
Patrick McGuinness, Chair, Hiway Board of Directors

Dave Boden

Dave Boden, President/CEO

Patrick McGuiness

Patrick McGuinness, Chair, Hiway Board of Directors