Ent Credit Union's Annie Snead (left) and Mollie Bell

Ent displays its Pride in local heroes

Credit union rallies around victims of mass shooting and honors community advocates.

May 28, 2024

A mass shooting in November 2022 hit especially close to home for Ent Credit Union in Colorado Springs, Colo.

An Ent service center manager who still works at the $9.8 billion asset credit union, was shot several times at Club Q, a local gay bar. She survived, but needed multiple surgeries, the last of which was just this year.

"She's doing very well,” says Mollie Bell, Ent’s chief development officer. “We love her. She had to fight through a lot. It’s really scary.”

Richard Fierro, an Army veteran and Ent business member who owns a local brewery, helped disarm the shooter, who killed five and injured 17 patrons.

“Richard is a friend of the affected service center manager’s family,” says Annie Snead, Ent’s senior manager of community advocacy. “That's why he was there that night.”

The credit union rallied immediately to support their team member and her family. The Monday following the shooting, Ent activated an internal giving campaign that raised nearly $15,000.

Ent also wanted to honor the heroes who stopped the shooter, undoubtedly saving many lives: Fierro and Thomas James, a Navy officer.

Bell and Snead came up with the Community Advocate Award, which included a $50,000 stipend for both men to thank them and recognize their bravery.

Senior leadership didn’t bat an eye when presented with the idea. “It was all about doing the right thing,” Bell says. “Everyone, from the most senior executives to our Pride Employee Engagement Group to people in operations, rallied so quickly.”

The credit union surprised Fierro with the $50,000 award during an event at his brewery that included Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and former Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. 

“That was a beautiful moment because Gov. Polis is the nation’s first openly gay man to be elected governor,” Bell says.

The Community Advocate Award has expanded to include people who make a difference across the state. “This year, we picked four community advocates who were doing amazing things in their communities, including the owner of a pay-what-you-can cafe, an executive director going without a salary, and a teacher who goes above and beyond for her students,” Snead says.

“The point is to recognize unsung heroes,” Bell says, adding that an employee committee determines Ent’s philanthropy decisions, including ranking the Community Advocate Award applicants.

“Colorado Springs has been a socially conservative city that's growing and bringing in populations who aren't as conservative,” she continues. “We’re stretching our brand to be more open about our acceptance and focus on belonging. We want everyone to feel like they're part of our community.”

That includes supporting Credit Union Pride and Pride parades in Colorado Springs and Denver.

“It's OK to stretch your brand muscles around what might be a difficult topic,” Bell says.