ēCO Credit Union has a strong commitment to the communities where our members live, work, and play. We are proud to recognize those who go above and beyond for their community through the #eCOmmunity initiative.
Each month, members of the community who embody the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People” are nominated by ēCO employees to be “Credit Unioned.”
Merry Chesser, Riverchase Assistant Branch Manager, nominated Annie Spates to be “Credit Unioned” because she is inspired by her courage and positivity. She said, “The main reason I nominated Ms. Annie was that no matter the storm she is going through, she faces it strong and continues to be a light to those around her.”
Annie Spates teaches 3rd through 5th grade Special Education at Lakeview Elementary School in McCalla, Alabama. She has been teaching for nearly 30 years, with 20 years serving as an educator for Tuscaloosa County Schools. Ms. Annie also worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in establishing a pre-school program for the Housing Authority.
“I love working with these children! I don’t even refer to them as students, I refer to them as my kids, my children, and that is what they are to me,” said Ms. Annie.
Ms. Annie is the proud mother of three sons and two daughters. Her daughters serve the community as nurses, one in California and one in Alabama. One of Ms. Annie's sons recently earned his welding certification, one son works in the oil industry in Texas and one son owns his own lawn service company. Ms. Annie also boasts about her grandson, who will graduate from Florida State University with a degree in Medical Research. Her grandson will be the first male in her family to graduate from college.
For over a year, Ms. Annie has been battling breast cancer. She has gone through two surgeries, 12 rounds of chemotherapy, and 36 radiation treatments. The Riverchase Branch staff said Ms. Annie is courageous and compassionate. “I nominated Ms. Annie to be ‘Credit Unioned’ because she is such a light to all of those around her,” said Merry. “Even while going through all of her treatments, she has remained positive, encouraging, and selfless. She is dedicated to helping our children to learn and grow to become the best versions of themselves. She genuinely cares for others, and it shows in how she interacts and treats others with kindness, thoughtfulness, and respect.”
“I lost my beautiful hair. I remember I went into the branch, I didn’t even have fuzz coming back at that point, but all of the ēCO employees kept encouraging me and telling me how beautiful I was, and they were just kind,” said Ms. Annie. “They shared their own personal stories with me about some of the trials and tests that they had within their families, and as a result when I was going to chemo, I could sit next to the lady in the chair and I could encourage her because they had encouraged me. When I was going through the radiation, I could bring things to encourage the people going through the radiation with me. Truly, this is something you cannot do by yourself. I didn’t realize how many lives I had touched, as far as the children, but I received so many drawings in the mail and I would sit by them and cry. We have to love one another. It doesn’t matter if you are from this planet or an alien from outer space, it is our mandate to love one another. I found that once you give that love, it just keeps coming back to you, and you can’t lose during that.”
ēCO Credit Union Riverchase Assistant Branch Manager, Merry Chesser, surprised Ms. Annie with a gift basket at Lakeview Elementary School on Monday, August 23, 2021, in front of an assembly of students.
“I appreciate the Lord for his goodness,” said Ms. Annie. “I appreciate ēCO and everything that you all have done for me. I couldn’t have done it without you. Everybody needs to be a member of ēCO Credit Union! There is no place better!”
“I want to encourage anyone who might be reading this of a few things,” said Ms. Annie. “When we take time to help our children and to see to it that they have everything they need, we are safeguarding our future. If we do not take the time they need to see that their needs are met, we can’t expect our needs to be met in the future. They are our future. The other thing is, Paul wrote that love covers a multitude of sins. Love will help you go through whatever evil thing may appear to be happening to you. Just love. A smile. A touch. It will help you get through whatever it is.”
ēCO Credit Union would like to thank Ms. Annie for her investment in the lives of others and for being an example of how to treat others with love and kindness.