A typical residential street in Eastern North Philadelphia. The neighborhood grew up as a working class manufacturing center from the 19th and 20th centuries before falling into decline.

PHILADELPHIA — “You know that line about ‘if you build it, they will come?’” asked Oscar Torrealva, branch manager at the $1.3 billion TruMark Financial Credit Union’s branch in the financially strapped Eastern North Philadelphia. Torrealva said that concept was nonsense, “at least when it comes to this sort of work. If you want to help low-income and underserved people start to use your financial services, you can’t wait for them to walk in your door, you have to go to them.”

Torrealva, a tall, intense looking Peruvian-American recounts how many meetings the credit union staff held with neighborhood groups and local nonprofit agencies in the first days after TruMark opened the branch two years ago. He also recalled how many street fairs the staff attended, how many school presentations they made and how many small businesses they visited.

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