VyStar Credit Union helps foster care students prepare for school

From left to right: Matt Brockelman, Vice President of Government Affairs at VyStar Credit Union; Patricia McElroy, SVP and President of the VyStar Foundation; Jenn Petion, President and CEO of Family Support Services; Shewan Mason, a local foster parent licensed with FSS; Teleauba Revels, Lead Parent Educator for FSS; Brittany Tennant, Community Engagement Specialist II for FSS. (Chanel Martin, Marketing Communications Specialist II for FSS, Family Support Services)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – VyStar Credit Union presented a $17,500 donation to Family Support Services on Friday, Aug. 19, in support of the Packs4Jax program getting children in foster care, kinship care, and prevention programs ready for the new school year.

“VyStar believes one of the surest ways to build strong communities is to invest in our children, especially when it comes to their education,” said SVP and President of VyStar Community Foundation Patricia McElroy. “When we learned Family Support Services needed additional resources for the Packs4Jax campaign, we were honored to offer our support and fill the gap. We hope this helps ease the financial burden many families face at the start of each school year, and we wish these children much success and fulfillment in the months ahead.”

“Oftentimes our kids haven’t had the same experiences as the kids sitting next to them in class. We want them to show up just as proud on their first day and having everything they need to be academically successful. We are so grateful that VyStar stepped in at the last minute, when we had a critical need and helped us get over the finish line to equip all of our kids,” said Jenn Petion, FSS President and CEO.

“In my home I have four children who attend school – a first grader, an eighth grader, and two tenth-graders. Gathering up all their school supplies and school lists can add up to be a bit of a financial burden, to have to prepare four children for school. That’s where FSS steps in, they help fill in the gap, they provide backpacks and school supplies to children in foster care,” said foster mom Shewan Mason. “A lot of children unfortunately probably haven’t had the means to be fully prepared for school in the past. A lot of children also don’t get new things, so anytime they get to receive something that’s new, that have tags on them, that have never been used before, they’re very excited.”

In addition to recruiting foster parents who are able to welcome children needing temporary care into their homes, Family Support Services also seeks support from individuals and companies like VyStar that are willing to make financial contributions to support children in care, as well as certain in-kind gifts. Corporate sponsorships also help raise awareness and support foster parent recruitment.

VyStar Credit Union was founded at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in 1952 when 12 founding members came together with $60 to create a safe place for military and civil service members to save and borrow money. Today, the credit union serves members of all backgrounds. VyStar continues to expand its footprint across the Southeast, and as it grows, so does its ability to do good in the communities it serves. In 2021, VyStar donated more $6.8 million to over 300 nonprofit organizations, more than ever before.

About Family Support Services (FSS) of Duval and Nassau Counties

Family Support Services is the lead agency for family preservation, foster care, and adoption services in Duval, Nassau, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Through community-based care, FSS provides services and programs to help prevent child abuse and neglect, to promote a healthy family environment and to care for our community’s children in foster care. For more information, go to www.familysupport.org.

About VyStar Credit Union

VyStar Credit Union is the second-largest credit union headquartered in Florida and now serves more than 830,000 members with assets of over $13 billion. VyStar is the largest mortgage lender in Northeast Florida and a major employer in the region with over 2,000 employees.

VyStar membership is open to everyone who lives or works in the 49 contiguous counties of Central to North Florida, 26 Georgia counties, and past and present military members and their families all over the world. For more information, visit vystarcu.org.

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