Eatonville celebrates grand opening of municipality’s first-ever financial institution

Unity of Eatonville was ‘135 years in the making,’ bank founding board member says

Dozens of people came out to historic Eatonville Saturday morning to witness more history in the oldest Black-incorporated municipality in the country. It was a community festival with live music, food and face painting as people celebrated the official grand opening of the town’s first-ever financial institution.

EATONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of people came out to historic Eatonville Saturday morning to witness more history in the oldest Black-incorporated municipality in the country.

It was a community festival with live music, food and face painting as people celebrated the official grand opening of the town’s first-ever financial institution.

It’s called Unity of Eatonville Federal Credit Union, located at 323 W Kennedy Blvd. in the heart of Eatonville.

“We’ve never had a credit union here, never had a financial institution, so this has been 135 years in the making,” said Bank Founding Board Member Kimberly Stewart.

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“It’s a community that’s often been overlooked and underserved by the banking institutions, so it’s really important because it’ll be a catalyst for change,” fellow Bank Founding Board Member and Board Chair George Williams said.

Bank leaders said even though their goal is to eventually expand, they’re taking the time now to invest in the community and teach its residents core skills.

“Teach them financial literacy, teach them financial empowerment, and just increase their overall (acumen) so we can hopefully narrow that wealth gap between the Black community and other communities,” Stewart said.

Willie C. Barnes is a pastor at nearby Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church and one of the visionaries for the opening of this bank.

“It’s an opportunity for people to invest in their own community and they are the owners of it, and that’s why it’s important,” Barnes said.

Bank leaders said they’ll begin opening accounts first thing Monday morning. They’ll be open six days a week, every day except for Tuesdays. Leaders said the goal is to also attract church members on Sunday from Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

Learn more about Unity of Eatonville FCU by visiting its website.


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About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.