Issue #13 April 2019
Above: Donell Bard, owner, Dynasty Media Productions
Photo credit: Jamie Love Photography

Artist of the Month

Beverly J. Martin Student Show



Daphne Solá

Ralph Lawrence Jr.

A special thank you to our last quarter Artists of the Month:
Jody Feaveryear
Kenneth McLaurin and Elbonee "SingTrece" Stevenson
Daniel Segal

If you are an artist interested in being our Artist of the Month, contact

Business of the Month

Attuned Life Massage


Wind-up Pictures LLC

Amy Callahan


If you interested in participating in our Business of the Month, please register at 

Upcoming events


10  Business CENTS: Coffee Talk
  Direct Sales 
19  Deadline for Ithaca is Local Spring Business Expo vendor registration
25  Help! I don't know how much to charge for my product or service
26  Deadline for Jeff Furman Socially Responsible Business Award Nominations


03  The Living Wage Press Conference
08  Business CENTS: Coffee Talk
08  Creating a Social Media Presence
30  Is my business flying blind in a snowstorm?



06  Money Smart for Small Business
12  Business CENTS: Coffee Talk
  Performing Market Research
13  Money Smart for Small Business
  Annual Meeting
20  Bills are stacking up, expenses are growing, and sales are slow! How do I avoid the cash crunch?


Details and how to participate are online at

Holiday closings
Memorial Day: May 27

Above: Eric Levine, CEO
Photo credit:  Jamie Love Photography
01 CEO's corner

By: Eric Levine

Alternatives is excited about two historic celebrations this quarter. First, Alternatives will celebrate the 25th anniversary of our biennial Living Wage Study. On the morning of May 3, we will release the 2019 Living Wage calculation at a press conference held at The Space @ GreenStar. Then, on the evening of June 19, Alternatives will hold our Annual Meeting, also at The Space. We will celebrate the 40th anniversary of our 1979 Federal Credit Union charter with keynote speaker and Alternatives founder Bill Myers, along with special guest Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, who will be presenting an official proclamation.

I am very proud that Alternatives has been a community leader for the Tompkins County Living Wage since 1994. Living Wage is central to Alternatives’ Mission: “To build wealth and create economic opportunity for underserved people and communities.” The “underserved” are often the people who earn the lowest wages, and they need at least a living wage in order to build wealth. To be true to our mission, Alternatives must sufficiently compensate staff to realistically maintain a savings habit and build wealth. Only with the capacity to save can they follow the same Credit Path promoted to our members. Alternatives must provide for its staff, so that they can be financially healthy and engaged to serve and the whole community.

A living wage not only supports the individuals who receive it, but creates community opportunity.  Sufficiently compensated employees have disposable income to be consumers, creating jobs and economic stability in a community. Failure of employers to pay a living wage results in greater community dependence on government tax funded safety nets, which may be subsidies to fill the gap between inadequate wages and a living wage.

Alternatives will continue to deliver its mission in many ways. Making sure the living wage is updated and shared with the entire community was an innovation, and is now a tradition of which we are rightfully proud. We hope the employers in the community take responsibility to pay Living Wage. Alternatives is thankful for our partnership with the Tompkins County Worker’s Center, which has certified at least 118 Living Wage Employers in Tompkins County, and continues to work closely with those businesses, and on growing that number. Every Living Wage employer in the community is a partner in our Mission. 
02 Mobility+

By: Reiley Schoen


Starting June 1st, 2019 there will be a $5.00 fee for telephone transfers from share to share. Ensuring you have access to your funds, no matter where you are, is important to us. We offer several free services to assist you. Alternatives makes accessing your account easy with Online Access, Mobile Access and Phone Access at no charge to you. 

To use Online Access
  1. Go to, and click on Online Access in the upper right corner. Then click on “register.”
  2. You will need your account number, the primary account holder’s last four digits of his/her Social Security Number, and the primary account holder’s birthdate. Business Accounts will need the last four digits of the EIN number, and this birthdate: 01/01/1901.
  3. Type “yes” to accept our terms and to advance to the next screen.
  4. You will see your account number and name at the top of the page. From there, please set up a username, password, and security questions.
Rules for each field.
  • Is case sensitive.
  • Must not be the same as your account number or username.
  • Must be between 7 and 20 characters long.
  • Must contain only letters, numbers and these special characters (!”#$%&()+,-/;<=>?[\]^_`{|}*’)
User name:
  • Is not case sensitive.
  • Must not be the same as your account number or username.
  • Must be between 8 and 15 characters long.
  • Must start with a letter.
  • Must contain only letters, numbers and these special characters: (!"#$%&()+,-/;<=>?[\]^_`{|}*')
  • Must not contain spaces or special characters (!@& etc)
Security (challenge) questions:
  • Must be unique.
  • Are not case sensitive.
Once registered for Online Access, your log in credentials are the same for Mobile Access.

Locked out?
As a safety precaution, if you enter your password or security question incorrectly five times, 
Online Access will freeze your account. Please call Member Service to unblock your account.

To use 
Mobile Access
  1. You must register your Alternatives account with Online Access first to be able to access your account on your mobile device.
  2. From your mobile device go to and you will be directed to a mobile friendly landing page for our site. 
  3. Click on the Log in icon in the upper right hand corner.
  4. Click on the “Using a mobile browser? Sign in here.” This will direct you to a page where you can download the app for either Apple or Android products.
  5. Once the App is downloaded, you will log in using the same credentials you set up for Online Access.
Locked out?
As a safety precaution, if you enter your password incorrectly three times, 
Mobile Access will freeze your account. Please call Member Service to unblock your account.

To use Phone AccessEnter your account number and follow the prompts to set up a PIN for your account. If you forgot your PIN, you will need to contact Member Service to setup a new PIN.
  1. Dial (607) 330-3013, or dial our main number (607) 273-4611 and press 1 for Phone Access.
  2. Listen to the prompts available and select what you would like to access.
  3. Phone Access will ask you to select an account type. If you have more than one of the same account types (e.g. two savings accounts) you can request a list to hear the ID and current balance.
Locked out?
As a safety precaution, if you enter the wrong PIN five times, 
Phone Access will freeze your account. Please call Member Service to unblock your account.
03 We heard you!

By: Reiley Schoen

You have asked for more opportunity to talk to our staff instead of an offsite answering service. Starting May 1, 2019 we will reduce the hours of the offsite call center to match our business hours Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm and Saturdays 10:00am - 1:00pm. 

What this means for you
If call volume is high during business hours and you must leave a message, staff will return the call as quickly as possible. After business hours, leave a message and Alternatives will respond the next business day. 

Alternative ways to get account information:

Online Access (at a computer), Mobile Access (on a mobile device) and Phone Access (automated voice call) are free, secure and easy to use 24/7 for your transactional needs.

With Online and Mobile Access you can:

  • View account information and history
  • Transfer funds between accounts
  • Pay bills
  • See check images
  • Make loan payments
  • Send secure messages
  • And more 
Phone Access is available 24/7 by calling (607) 273-4611 or (877) 273-AFCU.

Phone Access you can:
  • Check account balances
  • Review transaction history
  • Transfer funds
  • Make loan payments

We are very excited to bring you better service! To learn more about Online Access or Mobile Access you can call or stop by the branch. Check your inbox for emails about Tech Tuesdays or follow us on social media to stay up to date. 
04 Spotlight on first-time homebuyers

Interview by: Bea Nellenback

Ana Riley and Sarah Bonawitz joined Alternatives in March 2018, after Ana participated in the Free Tax Preparation Program. Through the Tax Program, Ana was introduced to other programs and services at Alternatives, which led to them eventually applying for a mortgage and successfully buying their first home late in 2018. We had a chance to catch up with them for a short interview about their experience.

BN: What has it meant to you
what has felt significant to youabout buying your first home?
AR/SB: Buying our first home has been such an accomplishment for us both. We have lived in several different places, so finding a safe place in which to settle, such as Tompkins County, means so much. We didn’t think home ownership would be possible for another several years, so to have the help of local resources, including Alternatives, enabled us to purchase an affordable house that felt like home the moment we saw it.

What do you love about your new home?

AR/SB: We love so much! We were lucky enough to find a home that checked the majority of our boxes on our wish list. The property is beautiful, we have a friendly neighbor, and our dogs enjoy the space. If we had to share specifics, we really love the wood stove (it was so helpful during the polar vortex in January), and the fact that our home is just the right size for us. Plus, we really enjoy being able to hang a picture on the wall without having to worry about a security deposit!

BN: What has been/is your experience of working with Alternatives for your mortgage?
AR/SB: Our experience has been wonderful! Everyone is friendly, thorough, and prompt. As anyone who is buying a home for the first time knows, it can be quite stressful, and you tend to worry over every detail. From our first appointment with Phil to our closing questions with Bea, we always felt respected and reassured, no matter what question we asked. We really appreciate the considerate and complete explanations we received
it made a huge difference!

BN: What would you tell your friends about Alternatives and the work done here?
AR/SB: Whenever we learn of someone buying a home, we always encourage them to look into the programs Alternatives has to offer
there are so many! While we didn’t qualify, we love that Alternatives offers a 4:1 matching IDA specifically for home ownership. We always share that we had a positive experience, and how much we learned along the way.

BN: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
AR/SB: We had a good experience with Alternatives when purchasing our home, and continue to do so with our ongoing interactions. We feel very lucky to finally be settled in a place where we can join a local credit union, and are glad Alternatives is the one!

Above: Gladys Brangman, Managing Director, Business Leaders of Colors 
Photo credit: The Visual Team
05  Business CENTS now offers Saturday appointments

By: Kathleen Clark

We are excited to announce our partnership with Gladys Brangman, Managing Director of Business Leaders of Colors, to offer Saturday Business CENTS appointments.

We understand it is not always possible to make it into the branch Monday-Friday to meet with a business advisor, so we've been working hard to find a way to offer more options.

Business Development Manager, Kathleen Clark, says "We are thrilled to partner with Gladys to expand our meeting times and make the Business CENTS services more accessible."

Gladys Brangman shares "This is a wonderful opportunity for Business Leaders of Colors (BLOC) to help encourage entrepreneurs and work with local business owners. I'm looking forward to making new connections!"

To schedule an appointment, please visit
06 Nominations sought for the Jeff Furman Social Responsibility in Business Award

By: Kathleen Clark

Alternatives is seeking nominations for The Jeff Furman Social Responsibility in Business Award. For the first time since we established the award in 1999 that we are turning our nomination process to the community. The annual award honors a local business that has distinguished itself through business practices that demonstrate the owner’s commitment to social responsibility. 

Jeff Furman is a long time Ithaca resident and activist who has demonstrated his commitment to social justice and community numerous ways. To name a few, Jeff co-founded the Community Dispute Resolution Center, founded a Youth Entrepreneur Program, served on the Ithaca City School District Board, developed the Small Business Development Program for the City of Ithaca that Alternatives now runs, has served on the Board of Ben & Jerry’s and is a trustee of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. The recipient will be honored at Alternatives Annual Meeting which takes place at 6:00pm on June 19, 2019 at The Space @ GreenStar

Are you, or do you know of, a business that incorporates some or all of the following practices:
  • Supports a positive workplace 
  • Pays a living wage
  • Hires women and minorities
  • Uses their business to promote social responsibility in business
  • Is a good steward of the environment
  • Trades in responsibly produced goods
  • Has a positive impact on the community
  • Gives back to their community
  • Partners with other local businesses
  • Encourages creativity and thinks outside the box
To nominate a local business, please email

Email must include: 
  • Nominee name
  • Company name
  • Name
  • Email
  • Relationship to Nominee
  • A one page letter of nomination with specific examples of this business’ socially responsible practices, commitment to a positive workplace and why they deserve this award.  
Deadline to submit nominations is April 26, 2019.
07 Calling all vendors!
By: Kathleen Clark

Alternatives is sponsoring the Ithaca is Local Business Spring Expo taking place Thursday, May 16, 2019 from 5:00pm - 8:00pm at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. We are currently seeking small business owner vendors in all industries. The registration fee is $40.00. Vendor registration closes April 19, 2019.

Please register here. This event is free and open to the public. 
08 She Means Business returns for a third year
By: Kathleen Clark
Once again Alternatives will be hosting She Means Business, a week-long entrepreneurial workshop for girls 13-16. Please visit to register.

She Means Business, participants learn about the steps necessary to develop a small business. From evaluating business ideas to building financial projections to retail pricing, the young women who participate in this week-long workshop gain valuable experience not taught elsewhere. As they receive instruction and advice from successful, local female business owners, the students also have the opportunity to network—both with the business owners and each other.

This workshop culminates in a final presentation of the participants’ business development plans to a mock funders’ panel. Panelists then provide individualized feedback to help the young women take the next steps toward entrepreneurship. Not only does this workshop educate local young women about entrepreneurship and offer them hands-on experience developing their business ideas, it also facilitates a network of local business women of all ages who can offer their support and expertise as these young women navigate the business world. We hope that through providing opportunities for education, feedback, and networking, these young women will have the practical knowledge they need to succeed in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Above: Brendan Wilbur, CCUFC, CUDE
Community Programs Manager

Photo credit: The Visual Team
09 Spotlight on staff: Meet Brendan

By: Grace Rychwalski

Meet Brendan, our Community Programs Manager, financial counselor, and educator!

Brendan has been with Alternatives for over 15 years now, starting as a Member Experience Associate on the teller line. Before he joined our team, Brendan was a preschool teacher, but he says he wanted a change when he saw a position open up at Alternatives.
“I came here as I was a member, I liked what the organization stood for, and I really needed to make a livable wage,” he said.
After Brendan was hired, he quickly realized this position was different than others. On top of personal and professional growth and development, Brendan says Alternatives helped him find his calling in life—financial education and empowerment.
Now, Brendan spends his time meeting with community members one-on-one to discuss their finances and credit, and leading workshops all over town on many aspects of Financial Wellness, from home buying to credit repair, and so much more.
“I look at the work that Alternatives does and, specifically, my role in that, as empowering people with information, tools, and options. I love that my job is all about helping people and doing it for an organization that deeply cares about the community that we operate in.”
In 2018, Brendan spent a week in Madison, Wisconsin meeting with Credit Union leaders and professionals from all over the country and world, as they worked on their Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) certifications. During that week, Brendan and other educators discussed the unique role credit unions play in their communities, particularly what Brendan says credit unions were formed to do: build community.
After hours and hours of hard work, Brendan came back from Wisconsin with his CUDE certification, and has been sharing what he learned during that week with coworkers, family, and friends since. He’s proud to play his role in our credit union, and in what he recognizes as a global effort by credit unions to level the playing field and provide financial access and education to all.
“We are part of a movement, a movement to bring the needs of the underserved to the forefront of financial institutions,” he said.

10 Paying it forward in the community 

By: Donna Acquavella

For the past five months, as part of our community outreach program spearheaded by the Underserved Task Force, staff members from Alternatives have been volunteering at Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County. Once a month during the workday, our staff helps provide and share free meals and fellowship to all members of the community in need of a meal and support. 
Alternatives is excited for this chance to partner with Loaves and Fishes, Ithaca’s only community kitchen, which is located in St. John’s Episcopal Church at 210 North Cayuga Street. Loaves and Fishes was founded in 1983 and offers free meals daily Monday - Friday, serving 2800 meals per month. 

Linda Hirvonen, Alternatives member and volunteer coordinator at 
Loaves and Fishes, is glad to have outreach volunteers from Alternatives. She states, “I am so happy that my credit union is so community minded."

As we continue to expand our outreach efforts and community relationships, we are honored to collaborate with 
Loaves and Fishes as they continue to serve the community in such a vital and necessary way. 

To learn more visit: 
Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County.

11 Learn with our cultural education board

By: Donna Acquavella

While we have a bulletin board in the vestibule of the credit union with posters advertising local community events and happenings, you may have noticed another bulletin board in the lobby waiting room area—our cultural education board. 

During February, which is Black History Month, we displayed information about the Southside Loop, a list of historically significant locations in Ithaca’s Southside neighborhood. Southside has a deeply important history, dating back over 180 years and remains a vital part of Ithaca to this day.

Additionally, in partnership with The History Center of Tompkins County, we were able to display photos throughout the years of Southside Community Center, in its current location on South Plain Street since 1934, which works to affirm, empower, and foster the development of self-pride among the African American citizens of greater Ithaca. 

For Women’s History Month in March, our bulletin board space was occupied with information about the important role African American women played during the women’s suffrage movement. While most people have heard of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the many contributions of African American women during the fight for the 19th Amendment have been vastly ignored by society. This is a space to take a moment to honor their lives and their work. 


Each month, we update our display with relevant educational information, so be sure to visit and revisit the space when you’re in the lobby.
Stop by in April to see our display celebrating Arab American Heritage Month, where we’ll be highlighting diversity within the Arab American community and their achievements!

Alternatives IMPACT

At Alternatives Federal Credit Union, we are better together. Generous donations from individuals, families, and foundations to businesses, trusts, and government ensure Alternatives continues to champion asset ownership, retain local money in local communities, and foster financial fortitude. Always learning, we are good listeners and seek to engage our funders in dialogue that improves our delivery and benefits our community

For more information about how you or your business can support Alternatives Impact, visit or email Liz Hudson, Development Director.


Alternatives Federal Credit Union
125 N. Fulton Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

t: (607) 273-4611 
toll free: (877) 273-AFCU 
f: (607) 277-6391

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