Gesa Credit Union's past four years have been busy.
The Richland-based credit union has doubled its employees, upped its assets by 75 percent and added three branches in growing areas of the Tri-Cities.
And President and CEO Christina Lethlean announced Thursday that the company will give at least $100,000 back to the community each year after reaching more than 100,000 members.
Lethlean said $20,000 will go to college scholarships for local students and the rest will benefit Habitat for Humanity Tri-Cities and Junior Achievement of the Greater Tri-Cities and Walla Walla, charities the credit union has supported in the past.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Gesa Credit Union now has 102,000 members, which Lethlean called "quite a milestone." About a quarter of the members have joined in the past four years.
That makes Gesa Credit Union, which started as General Electric Supervisor's Association in 1953, the largest credit union in Southeastern Washington and the third largest in the state.
More than half of those customers, about 61,000, are in Benton and Franklin counties.
Lethlean attributes some of the growth to the credit union's reputation. People have turned to credit unions after banks started to suffer, she said.
Gesa opened branches in south Richland in 2007, west Pasco in 2008 and south Kennewick in 2010. As the cities grew, she said they listened to go where customers asked to be served. And the credit union built a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified headquarters in Richland in 2009.
The credit union has 10 full-service branches and seven high school branches.
Two years ago Gesa added a business loan program and have continued to lend to small businesses when some banks have pulled back, Lethlean said.
Since July 2007, Gesa's assets have grown from $630 million to $1.1 billion. And its grown from 150 employees four years ago to more than 300 today.
Theresa Richardson, Habitat for Humanity executive director, said the credit union has set a standard that business can make a profit and be socially responsible.
She said the commitment from Gesa will help with the nonprofit's goal of helping 12 families each year to build or repair their homes.
"It takes a lot to build a house," she said.
And Habitat for Humanity has programs to help with exterior home repair and minor landscaping and critical home repair, especially for elderly, disabled and veterans in the community.
Deb Bowen, Junior Achievement executive director, said the credit union's donation will allow them to add hundreds of children to the more than 10,000 served in 11 area school districts each year.
Junior Achievement volunteers teach children from kindergarten to high school financial literacy and work force readiness, she said. The group also offers summer and after-school programs.