Laura Aguirre, 2016 Annie Vamper Award Winner


Dallas, TX - (November 16, 2016) - The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) is pleased to announce that Laura Aguirre, President/CEO of Hawaii First Federal Credit Union of Kamuela, Hawaii, is the recipient of the 2016 Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award. This award is the highest honor given by the Federation to community development credit union staff and volunteers. Laura received her award at a special ceremony at the Federation's 2016 Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Laura says she is a true believer in the credit union philosophy of people helping people, "Kindness costs nothing and can change a life. Every day I ask myself whose life did I change today?"

Laura's upbringing included public assistance and homelessness. As a result, Laura understands, perhaps more than most, how encouragement and kindness can change lives. After a successful career in banking, Laura moved to Hawaii in 1992. Everywhere she looked she saw people who reminded her of how she grew up. Laura was determined to help underserved, low-income, and native communities.

Hawaii First received its CDFI certification in 2008 and the Hawaii First Community Resource Center opened shortly thereafter. The Center now has two locations and has helped 3,600 East and West Hawaii residents. Under Laura's Leadership, Hawaii First has received five CDFI awards totaling $3.3 million allowing further development of its unique loan and share programs.

Hawaii First is also a Federation secondary capital investee. The Federation has invested in Hawaii First to support the credit union's growth and mortgage services, as well as its Community and Homeownership Resource Centers.

Today, Hawaii First has assets of $42 million. Laura consistently demonstrates the significant impact a smaller credit union can have on its community. From 2012 to 2016, the credit union's assets and loans have grown 21% and 23% respectively, and provided more than $60 million in loans to members.

Diane Guidry, Hawaii First board chair says, "Laura is one of the most caring people dedicated to helping the underserved that I know. It has been an honor to be a part of her team. We are always looking for better ways to help our community. Laura shares with her staff so that they all can make a difference, one person at a time, to be the best they can be and achieve their dreams."

Hawaii First's previous honors include the 2009 Dora Maxwell Award for Social Responsibility, the Circle of Honor Leadership Award from the Opportunity Finance Network in 2014, and the 2016 National Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action.

About Annie Vamper
From volunteering with the College City Elks Lodge FCU in 1958 to serving as the Federation's Associate Director beginning in 1983, Annie Vamper was committed to the community development credit union movement until her death in 1990. Click here to read more about Annie Vamper.

About Hawaii First Federal Credit Union
Hawaii First FCU has been serving our community for 60 years! We serve members island-wide with branches located in Kamuela and Hilo. Our mission statement is "Empowering Our Community by Serving Hawaii First!" and we strive to provide exceptional financial services to meet the long-term financial needs of our individual members. Our field of membership includes any person who lives on the Island of Hawaii, Hawaii; persons who regularly work, attend school, worship, perform volunteer services, or participate in associations headquartered on the Island of Hawaii, Hawaii; persons participating in programs to alleviate property or distress which are located on the Island of Hawaii, Hawaii, or maintaining a facility on the Island of Hawaii, Hawaii; the Island of Hawaii, Hawaii meets the low income definition of part 701.34 of the National Credit Union Administration Rules & Regulations.

About the Federation
The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions is a certified CDFI Intermediary representing community development credit unions (CDCUs). The Federation's member CDCUs provide credit, savings, transaction services and financial education to over 6 million residents of low-income urban, rural and reservation-based communities across the US, and hold over $60 billion in community-controlled assets. Founded in 1974, the Federation is headquartered in Lower Manhattan with offices in Madison, WI. The Federation offers a wide range of advocacy, educational, training, investment, marketing, and outreach programs to support and assist CDCUs. For more information about the Federation and its programs, please visit

Media Contacts:
Clarissa Ritter
Director of Marketing and Communications
212-809-1850, ext. 210

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