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Holiday food shelves fuller thanks to CUs

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MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--Many families won't go hungry during the holidays, thanks to credit unions across the country who are giving back to their communities by stocking food pantries and providing turkeys, meals and more for Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, staff from Belvoir FCU, a nearly $270 million asset credit union in Woodbridge, Va., will personally cater a smorgasbord of Thanksgiving dishes to 15 soldiers who can't take a leave during the holiday season to be with their families because of their training at Fort Belvoir. Belvoir Federal CEO Patricia Kimmel and Director of Branch Operations Judy MacDonald discovered last week the soldiers can't leave. "These soldiers sacrifice so much for their country, serving them a warm meal on Thanksgiving is the least we could do. We simply wanted to bring them a little piece of home," said Kimmel. Belvoir has nearly $270 million in assets. In Manchester, N.H., Bellwether Community CU will make Thanksgiving dinner possible for 150 families. Saturday it delivered about 2,000 pounds of turkeys to New Horizons food pantry, the 10th year it has made the annual contribution. With Bellwether's donation, New Horizons will create and distribute Thanksgiving food baskets to local families in need. Each basket will have a turkey and a variety of non-perishable items. The $327 million asset credit union's contribution doesn't end there. Each month, six to eight Bellwether employees help serve 200 meals in New Horizons' soup kitchen, said Mary Silva, food service manager there. "I am proud of our employees and directors for being leaders beyond our walls and helping local families in need," said Bellwether Community President/CEO Micahel L'Ecuyer in a press release. Since most international students at Rockland Community College in Suffern, N.Y., will be far away from their families during the holidays, Palisades FCU, Pearl River, N.Y., provided funds and volunteers as part of its sponsorship of the 23rd annual International Student Thanksgiving Luncheon last week at the college. More than 100 students, faculty, volunteers and community leaders attended the event, which helps international students learn about American customs and Thanksgiving traditions. Fifteen Western Michigan credit unions have joined together for their second year to support local hunger relief organizations (Michigan Monitor Nov. 22). They are collecting donations until Dec. 31. "The Credit Union Food Drive will make a huge difference in the lives of area families struggling during this difficult economic time," said Gail Kraft, executive director of Love Incorporated of Muskegon. Last year credit unions collected more than 6,500 pounds of food, and they plan to exceed that this year. Participants include: Community Schools CU, Family Financial CU, First General CU, HarborLight CU, Lakeshore FCU, Michigan Coastal CU, Muskegon Consumers Power Employees FCU, Muskegon Co-op FCU, Muskegon Governmental CU, SB FCU, Port City FCU, Service 1 FCU, Shoreline FCU, Tri-Cities CU and Wyandotte FCU. Three credit unions in Fond du Lac, Wis., are teaming up with other businesses on the area's Stock the Shelves campaign. Credit unions participating include CitizensFirst CU, Fond du Lac CU, and Marine CU. Total donations reached the $20,000 mark earlier this week and about 300 pounds of food have been collected so far. The campaign will end in two weeks. In Scappoose, Ore., Buddy Bear, a mascot of St. Helens Community FCU (SHCU), hit the streets Thursday to raise awareness for the Columbia Pacific Food Bank, which helps Columbia County families in need. SHCU and Auto Solution are hosting a food drive and fundraising event from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 at branch locations in Scappoose, St. Helens and Rainier. The goal is to raise $500 and three barrels of non-perishable food. And in Brewer, Maine, officials from the Maine Credit Union Campaign for Ending Hunger teamed up with Good Shepherd Food Bank last week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Maine's Food Mobile, a truck that has delivered more than one million pounds of food to families in need since 3005 Last week's ceremony was held to coincide with Thanksgiving, according to the Maine Credit Union League. The credit unions' campaign also donated $1,600 to purchase 131 13-pound turkeys so the food pantry can "deliver them to families who need them," said Jon Paradise, the league's governmental and public affairs manager.

CU System briefs (11/22/2010)

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* MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--A "Right at Home" DVD and website from the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates received the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education's Outstanding Consumer Award at an annual awards luncheon Friday. The video and website connect struggling homeowner with the resources to avoid foreclosure. It was produced by CU Village, a Web design and multimedia subsidiary of the league, and made possible in part by funding from a National Credit Union Foundation Innovation Grant. The DVD and website feature information about 1) Budgeting for Any Situation, 2) Finding the Right Mortgage, and 3) Rebuilding Credit After Foreclosure … * GREEN BAY, Wis. (11/23/10)--Harold J. Elbe, 87, died Friday, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette (Nov. 22). He was former manager of Procter & Gambel (P&G) Green Bay CU, now $32 million asset Horizon Community CU, Green Bay, for 30 years until his retirement in 1986. He is survived by his wife, a daughter, one sister, and nieces and nephews. Funeral services are today at 3 p.m. CT at Lyndahl Funeral Home, Green Bay, with visitation from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. …

Regional compensation data available from CUNA

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MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--CEOs of credit unions in the East North Central Region (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin) earn a median base salary of $71,843, according to a new Credit Union National Association (CUNA) report.
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The report found a strong correlation between compensation, especially base salary, and credit union size. A credit union’s complexity of operations increases with its size, and CEOs are compensated accordingly. Among credit unions with $1 million or more and at least one full-time employee, the median base salary for CEOs is just more than $30,000, according to the CUNA 2010-2011 Complete Credit Union Staff Salary Survey East North Central Report. That figure increases to almost $400,000 among the largest credit unions. “Competition experts project that turnover will increase as the economy moves from recession to recovery,” said Beth Soltis, CUNA senior research analyst. “While turnover is expected among all positions, turnover among CEOs and hard-to-fill positions is expected to be particularly volatile. Analyzing compensation data from the credit union industry and in their geographic region will assist credit unions in providing appropriate and competitive compensation to attract and retain top talent.” The survey provides compensation data for 89 full-time and eight part-time positions at credit unions with $1 million or more in assets in the East North Central Region. The compensation data include: base salaries, incentives, bonuses, total cash compensation and salary ranges. The report, also available in Adobe PDF format, also contains job descriptions.

MCCU saves 13200 a year by going green

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CLOQUET, Minn. (11/23/10)--Changes in building and business practices in an effort to reach a zero net balance in carbon emissions have resulted in an annual savings of $13,200 at Members Cooperative CU (Duluth News Tribune Nov. 17). “We’ve discovered that making changes that are friendly to the environment are also friendly to our bottom line,” said Ralph Hamann, vice president and chief financial officer at the $288.5 million credit union. “We have more work to do, but we are on our way to becoming a carbon-neutral organization.” The Cloquet, Minn.-based credit union:
* Switched to a more efficient lighting at its Cloquet branch office (savings: $1,800 a year in electrical costs); * Switched from compressed-air keyboard cleaners to vacuum-style keyboard cleaners (savings: $800, plus harmful hydroflourocarbons aren’t released into the environment); and * Installed a sophisticated heating, ventilation and cooling system in the credit union’s 8,000-square-foot call center; the system pulls heat from the call center’s data servers and sends it to employees’ work stations, cutting heating costs to less than $150 per month in winter (savings: $10,000 per year).
Although Members Cooperative CU started making sustainable practices a priority in 2004, it boosted efforts this year after staff completed seven months of training with Sustainable Twin Ports, a nonprofit grassroots group dedicated to furthering sustainability through education, networking and action.

Connecticut league hosts healthcare CU roundtable

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MERIDEN, Conn. (11/23/10)--The Credit Union League of Connecticut held its first Connecticut Healthcare Credit Union Roundtable Nov. 16 to exchange information. Credit unions affiliated with the healthcare industry statewide gathered to provide support and ideas on ways they could improve service to members while developing growth and income opportunities. Topics included positioning credit unions in the healthcare industry, a comparison of healthcare credit unions versus the entire credit union industry, healthcare reform and its impact on the credit union’s role, opportunities and challenges credit unions will face going forward, the benefits and disadvantages of select employee group diversification, and cooperation with healthcare industry business providers. Participants also discussed the importance of branding and image with regard to healthcare industry providers and credit union members. “One thing is certain: healthcare credit unions realize they can advance and grow through shared business opportunities and an open exchange of information and ideas,” said Nick Moalli, league assistant vice president, credit union services, who facilitated the meeting. The group’s second session has been scheduled for January. League strategic partners will be invited to demonstrate how combining their efforts can help credit unions simplify operations, reduce costs, and deliver improved products and services.

Counterfeit checks reported by CUs in five states

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MADISON, Wis. (11/23/10)--Credit unions from New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Iowa and California reported counterfeit checks scams, CUNA Mutual Group announced on Wednesday, according to the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Weekly Exchange Nov. 15). Some examples are:
* Money FCU, Syracuse, N.Y.--A nonmember of the credit union called to verify a $950 Money FCU official check received unsolicited in the mail; * Collins Community CU, Cedar Rapids, Iowa--Old credit union official checks were used for a mystery shopper scam; * Patriot FCU, Chambersburg, Pa.--Cashier’s checks were received in the mail accompanied by a letter from Manulife Financial advising the recipients that they were winners in the U.K. & North America Consumer Promotion draw organized for all customers of Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Kohl’s, Safeway, and other retailers; * Fibre FCU, Longview, Wash.--The payee of a credit union cashier’s check was altered, and the next day, the same check number and dollar amount were presented with a different payee; * SafeAmerica CU, Pleasanton, Calif.--The credit union has received several calls from banks asking to verify the validity of checks, as it appears to be part of a lottery scam; and * NBA CU, Bristol, Conn.--Counterfeit NBA CU checks are in circulation. The checks are being presented in New Jersey in the amounts of $4,850.20 to $8,850.20. The logo seems to have been copied and pasted onto the counterfeit check. The signature is not from an official signer. The check numbers range from 993281 to 993286.
Credit unions experiencing a loss can contact the CUNA Mutual Credit Union Protection Response Center at 800-637-2676 or click on the link below. In other activity related to counterfeit checks, the Virginia Credit Union League joined the battle to fight check fraud. The league is in a partnership with three other organizations in "Don't Become a Target," a program unveiled last week to educate consumers and financial institutions about bad check scams. The league is partnering with the Virginia Bankers Association and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) in handing out brochures created by the CFA about fake check scams and similar frauds to members who deposit check or money orders of $1,000 or more or to withdraw $1,000 or more.

N.J. CUs partner with fin lit coalition

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (11/23/10)--New Jersey’s credit unions have agreed to support the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education (NJCFE) to advance financial literacy and education throughout the state and region. With help from the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation (NJCUF) and the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL), credit unions have made a three-year sponsorship commitment, set to begin in 2011 (The Daily Exchange Nov. 22). The relationship will be formalized in a signing and check presentation ceremony at the upcoming NJCFE Membership Meeting scheduled for Dec. 17. “Financial literacy is one of the core missions of New Jersey credit unions,” said Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the league and secretary/treasurer of the foundation. “Credit unions operate in a cooperative environment, and our credit unions are proud to join together to fund this three-year commitment to NJCFE.” “New Jersey’s Credit Unions, Banking You Can Trust” will be lead sponsor in all events and the expanded relationship will bolster NJCFE’s statewide goal to improve the personal financial literacy of New Jersey’s citizens of all ages. Through the partnership, NJCFE said it will be able expand its outreach program. NJCFE also will be able to host:
* A spring and fall statewide conference for educators to develop new financial literacy education tools and learn of opportunities; * Financial showcases to spotlight a financial literacy curriculum statewide; * America Saves Week--a year-long program kicked off with a statewide public awareness week to encourage New Jersey citizens to save; * Financial Health Days--working with local organizations and schools to host financial health days where young people are given life scenarios to learn about money and budgeting; and * Website expansion for, a hub for financial literacy in New Jersey. With expanded resources, the website will begin offering services in multiple languages and further outreach.

Ceasedesist order vs. Manitoba-based CU in Saskatchewan

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REGINA, Saskatchewan (11/23/10)--A credit union based in Manitoba has been issued a "cease and desist" order for soliciting business in Saskatchewan but calls the order a mix-up ( Nov. 20). Sunova CU, of Selkirk, Man., was issued the order on Thursday by the Saskatchewan Financial Services Commission, which said the credit union was advertising in Saskatchewan under the name of Hubert Financial or The credit union doesn't have a provincial license to operate in Saskatchewan, the commission said. The credit union's website suggested the order is a mix-up. "While we can accommodate members and deposits from other provinces (and ensure their deposits are 100% guaranteed), the rules around how we can advertise our products and services get a little sticky," said a notice on the website. The credit union said it will refine its advertising to "ensure the working is A-OK with regulators from all provinces."

IArizona Daily StarI Some Tucsonans switching to CUs

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TUCSON, Ariz. (11/23/10)--Some credit unions and small banks in the Tucson, Ariz., area have used the financial crisis to encourage consumers to switch financial institutions from large banks, according to the Arizona Daily Star (Nov. 20). John Praytor, who lives in Sahuarita, Ariz., switched to Tucson FCU from Chase Bank when the bank continued to charge him after he paid off his home mortgage. His rationale was that the credit union is local and has a branch in Sahuarita, the newspaper said. By taking that action, Praytor followed the advice of activists who began the “Move Your Money” campaign in The Huffington Post a year ago. The campaign urges people to move their funds to smaller local institutions from large regional and national banks, the paper said. U.S. credit unions had an estimated 9.2% share of the household savings market at the end of 2008, and by September, that had risen to 10%, Pat Keefe, vice president of communications for the Credit Union National Association, told the paper. Credit unions’ slice of the consumer loan pie went to 9.3% in September--peaking at 9.6 % at the end of 2009--from 9.1% at the end of 2008, Keefe added. Because they have roots and a local presence, credit unions are “kind of like the banking from [the movie] ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,”’ Ray Lancaster, president of Pyramid FCU in Tucson, told the paper. By working hard to differentiate themselves from banks in light of the recent bad news about problems with big banks, credit unions have capitalized on “an opportunity to remind the customer of the difference” between them and banks, Michael Hudson, a consultant who runs the website, told the paper. To read the article, use the link.

Vermont survey points to aging CU directors

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (11/23/10)--The economy has caused regulators to shine a spotlight on accountability and knowledge among credit union board members, and a new survey of Vermont credit union directors brings home that point. The survey, by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU), found that most credit unions surveyed have an aging director population with no term limits and that few have a formal description of expectations or qualifications of their directors beyond what's cited in their bylaws (Newslines Express Nov. 19). Among the survey's findings:
* Number of directors: 50% have seven directors and one-third have nine; * Term limits: 83% reported no term limits; others are limited to two or three terms; * Director age; About half of credit unions' directors are in their 40s; one-third are in their 60s; * Director job description: 84% have no job description other than specified in the bylaws; * Nominating committee direction: 83% of nominating committees receive no particular direction; and * Other volunteer service: Credit unions are split on whether new directors typically come from other volunteer positions in the credit union.
The survey also found that credit unions seeking a mix of director criteria beyond bylaw minimums report a desire for a gender/race balance and specific experience in finance, or marketing or business. One credit union reported analyzing its board strengths and weaknesses to generate a list of gaps or needs to consider when seeking candidates. Credit unions that provide new director orientation provide, at a minimum, training in financial statements and confidentiality issues. Others with more formal orientation include a review of strategic plans, history, personal conduct and protocol, and in some instances use formalized board self-study training materials such as those provided by the Credit Union National Association.