Desert Financial Credit Union, with more than 1,000 employees across Arizona, has named Casa Grande’s Diane Berdych its 2021 Volunteer of the Year.
She spent 229 hours — or almost six weeks’ worth of full-time work — over the course of the year and enjoyed every minute of it.
“We just try and do what we can, and I just love it,” Berdych says. “The more I can do, I’m happy to see the kids from Free Arts, and if I get a smile or a hug, that’s just so well worth it, just to see them.”
Free Arts for Abused Children in Arizona is one of her favorite nonprofits to work with and one of the recipients she chose for the $1,500 donation her employer made as part of her prize, along with Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center.
Last year Berdych supported almost all of Desert Financial’s “virtual volunteer” initiatives, worked blood drives, made no-sew blankets for kids and, with her two grandsons, decorated lunch bags for Meals on Wheels and painted Kindness Rocks.
As her job and volunteering went “virtual” over the last two years, she wrote cards of encouragement for seniors at Native American Connections centers and for girls who’d been victimized through human trafficking.
“It’s all such heartfelt things we can do that literally take only a few minutes. You can do 20 in a half hour, and you might be touching 20 girls or 20 seniors,” Berdych says. “It’s huge, it’s huge.”
Berdych and her husband moved from Michigan to Casa Grande in 2008 and she began working for Desert Financial shortly after. She is a quality data analyst.
She says she volunteered before, but not as often as she’s been able to do with the credit union, which offers paid volunteer time and coordinated opportunities.
“Desert Financial will send us a box of supplies, and we do a Zoom. We may have 30 people on the meeting, and then we’re all putting these kits together for kids or the veterans, things like that,” she said. In-person volunteering is being reintroduced, too.