Strata Credit Union is celebrating 70 years of locals helping other locals with 70 gifts of love, granting the wishes of 70 deserving Kern County residents and organizations for each year of Strata’s service to Kern County.

It’s putting a philosophy of credit unions helping people into action.

“We wanted to do something special in celebration of our 70th anniversary that encompasses the foundational philosophy of the credit union movement,” said Strata CEO Brandon Ivie. “With the help of our community, we will grant a total of 70 wishes for individuals or organizations that are in need right here in our community.”

Formerly Kern Federal Credit Union, Strata rebranded in 2018 but continues to grow from and within Kern County, perfectly pairing investment with philanthropy in dedication to each year of service since 1949, when a small group of county employees decided to create a way to invest and build locally.

Anyone can submit a wish on behalf of a deserving organization online and the Strata team is excited to award everything from equipment, monetary donations, even building materials to make selected wishes come true. Individuals and organizations have been granted wishes beyond their wildest dreams, including a woman who needed an air conditioner, teachers and the Trona Community Chest Disaster Relief Fund.

Marketing Manager Michelle Garland’s voice chokes up when she speaks about the 70 Wishes Strata launched this year: “I can’t tell you how lucky and grateful I feel. We never in a million years thought it would be so well-received and have the impact that it has!”

One of the most heartfelt and graciously well-received wishes was No. 21. It was granted to Anthony Rodriguez, a drummer born blind who does not let that stop him from finding his sound.

“Visually impaired or not, you have to do it no matter what. Just pursue it,” Rodriguez said about not being defined by this one inability.

He performs with local bands Here by Fate, Tri Tone Mafia and Four Play. He has also been honing his talent with the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop for the past year.

While performing at Temblor, the band was surprised by a sudden swell of people in the brewery. “Next thing I know there are tons of people coming in and the place was completely full,” said Rodriguez.

Ivie, Garland and the rest of the Strata team came in hand with a gold sponsorship for the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop as wish No. 20 and a special surprise for Rodriguez from Strata. As Rodriguez is earning his clout in the local music scene, he was nominated to Strata’s 70 Wishes by another local legend.

With a nomination from Dolores Huerta, a regular member of the audience, Rodriguez’s greatest wish would be granted: a professional seven-piece set from Gretsch Drums featuring the reverb of a Catalina Maple shell.

“I don’t really know what to say. It was beautiful,” Rodriguez said, still at a loss of words. “I love being able to play when I feel like it. It has already been to two shows.” 

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