[caption id="attachment_44235" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Jaworski family (middle) won the $10,000 grand prize after participating in Redwood Credit Union's first "Amazing Savers" contest. (Eric Gneckow photo)[/caption]
SANTA ROSA -- When Redwood Credit Union President and CEO Brett Martinez took to the podium tonight to present the $10,000 grand prize for the institution's first "Amazing Savers" contest, he had an unexpected surprise for the runners up.
The grand prize in the competition to improve family finances would ultimately go to the Santa Rosa-based Jaworski family, but the remaining four teams each would go home with a $1,000 check themselves.
"As you can see from these families, each has improved their financial situation tremendously," he said.
Chosen from more than 100 applicants, the five teams have taken part in the reality entertainment--style contest since February and represented a range of financial situations.
Each team received financial coaching over the contest -- a service that Redwood Credit Union provides for free to all members. Participants were asked to share their experience online, and judges evaluated their performance based on level of involvement, progress toward goals, improvement in credit score and public voting.
The packed conference room at Redwood Credit Union’s administrative offices in Santa Rosa hosted the "gala." It was a high-energy scene as organizers announced the teams amid continuing claps and cheers.
Redwood Credit Union Chief Operating Officer Anne Benjamin said the event represented efforts to increase public financial literacy.
"This is not the end for any of these people -- it's the beginning," she said.