Regions Bank teams with United Ability for student tours

Published 11:43 am Tuesday, May 17, 2022

By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The Pelham main office of Regions Bank had a group of special guests on Thursday, April 28.

The bank hosted a tour of the branch for 25 students with disabilities from Hueytown High School as part of a partnership with United Ability, a nonprofit dedicated to engaging people with disabilities with their community. The tour serves as a hands-on learning opportunity that shows students how the banks work and gives them an opportunity to apply the money management skills they’ve learned in their classes.

The tour has been incredibly popular since the first one was held in November 2021. They’ve hosted seven tours total with 116 students taking part in the program.

Kathy Lovell, the disability services outreach manager for Regions, said the Pelham office was the ideal location to hold the tours because it gives a good cross-section of different bank components, such as everyday banking needs and more complex areas like mortgages and savings.

Lovell said easy accessibility banking is top priority for her and the Regions corporation.

“Being an advocate for people with disabilities, I want Regions to provide accessible banking products and services so people with disabilities can bank on their own terms,” she said. “This gives them the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned and see that they are capable of managing finances themselves.”

The tour is conducted by Daisy Mendoza, who is the branch manager of Regions’ Alabaster location. The tour starts in front of the bank’s cash line associates, where they go over things like depositing and withdrawing money along with the things needed to complete those actions like your ID.

“We’re trying to take away that fear of going inside of a bank,” Mendoza said. “It can be a little intimidating if you don’t know where to go or you aren’t used to it.”

The students are introduced to the bankers and are given a list of goals the bankers have for helping members obtain their own financial goals. They also go over what the options are for when the bank is closed, like using the ATM.

Mendoza said two of the most popular parts of the tour are when the students get to work the drive-thru and get a sneak peek inside the vault.

“It has been a very rewarding opportunity to visit with these students,” Lovell said. “They’re so engaged, they’re asking a lot of questions. They want to understand and be knowledgeable about their finances.”

Lovell said they also have a representative from their human resources department to explain employment opportunities at Regions.

“We want to illustrate to our students that the bank is not just cashing and withdrawing money, there’s so much more, and we’re really here to help them through every phase of their life,” she said.

Mendoza said it’s truly a special moment when the students are able to connect what they’ve learned in school with something they can do in their everyday life.

“They really get that aha moment where the things teachers have been teaching them about money management and things they need to do for savings and opening an account, all of that stuff is reinforced by these tours,” she said. “It’s so nice to see these students make that connection.”

They are planning on holding more tours in the future, and Lovell always ends the tour with a positive, reinforcing note.

“I always tell them when we get back together at the end of the tour, I tell them to be an advocate for themselves and to dream big,” she said. “I tell them to follow their hearts because they’re so capable of wonderful things.”