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September #eCOmmunity - Erika Hughes


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 to be “Credit Unioned.”

Pastor Brian Burdette of Central Baptist Church in Gardendale, Alabama, reached out to ēCO Credit Union to nominate a member of the Gardendale community he thinks embodies the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People.” He nominated Erika Hughes to be “Credit Unioned” for September.

ēCO was proud to have Pastor Burdette reach out and nominate Erika for the #eCOmmunity program. Pastor Burdette nominated Erika to be “Credit Unioned” because of her willingness to go above and beyond for others, especially her students. He said, “Erika truly has a servant’s heart. It is evident in how she serves her students and our community. She utilizes her gifts to connect and serve others, and it is very special.” 

Erika Hughes was born and raised in Gardendale, Alabama. Erika is married to Brian, and they have three sons. She began her teaching career at Gardendale Elementary School 17 years ago. She taught 3rd grade for 15 years and is now in her second year teaching 5th grade. Erika teaches reading and science, leads the “Future Problem Solvers” program, coaches cheerleading, tutors students, and is a representative on behalf of teachers for the American Federation of Teachers. As if she isn’t busy enough, Erika also volunteers to cater a meal every Wednesday night for her church.

“You can tell a lot about someone’s heart when they are always going above and beyond for others,” said Pastor Burdette. “There is an old saying in education, ‘nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.’ She truly cares about the kids, and she is such an effective teacher because they know she cares. She doesn’t simply try to facilitate learning, but she also tries to help students develop a love for learning and to become lifelong learners. Through interpersonal relationships and connectedness, she helps students be their best, in and out of the classroom.”

Tinker Rogers, Principal of Gardendale Elementary said, “Mrs. Hughes has a passion for these children. She will go above and beyond the call of duty to provide these kids with whatever they need during school hours and even outside of school hours. This is just her mission, to serve and love these kids.”

ēCO Credit Union Gardendale Branch Manager, Kathryn Johnson, along with Principal Rogers, Assistant Principal Taylor, and Pastor Burdette surprised Erika with a gift basket in her classroom at Gardendale Elementary School on Wednesday, September 29.

Troy Taylor, Assistant Principal of Gardendale Elementary School, said, “it never fails, despite what these kids may be dealing with inside school or outside school, she is connected in as many ways as possible to make sure she can be a support system or resource for them. It is evident in the way she fights and champions for the kids in what they need or what they want.”

Kathryn Johnson, Gardendale Branch Manager, said, “Mrs. Hughes is such an asset to our community. It is truly amazing, all the things that she does. She is active in community and school athletics. She loyally serves her church, and she pours her heart into our students. She is dedicated to teaching our kids to be good students, but more importantly, she leads by example in teaching our kids how to be good people.”

“Thank you so much. This means a lot to me,” said Erika. “Sometimes you don’t think people realize what you are doing. Somedays, it is hard. You get tired, but God gives you the strength to keep going, to hopefully touch someone or make a difference in someone’s life. It really means a lot that even though somedays I get exhausted and question myself, it does make a difference for someone else and helps them. If you feel like you can’t keep going, just dig down deep and keep going because you will make a difference in someone’s life.”

“I want to thank ēCO for providing this opportunity to support and uplift those in our community,” said Pastor Burdette. “These past two years have been hard on our teachers, and I think it is important that we continue to do things like this or find ways to support them. We need to remember that all of our teachers have stuck with it and continued to do the best that they could, even in the midst of so much uncertainty and adversity, and they have done it because they love the kids.”

ēCO Credit Union would like to thank Erika Hughes for her willingness to go above and beyond for her students and community. We appreciate your dedication to educating, caring, and being a champion for our students.

Would you like to nominate someone to be credit unioned? Email your nomination to

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