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Philanthropy award honors SECUs 5 million gift

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RALEIGH, N.C. (12/20/12)--Raleigh, N.C.-based State Employees' CU (SECU) has been honored with the 2012 Outstanding Business in Philanthropy award for the SECU Foundation's $5 million gift for the SECU Cancer Center at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C.

The award is sponsored by the Western North Carolina (WNC) Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and was presented at WNC-AFP's annual National Philanthropy Day Celebration in Asheville.

SECU Foundation's contribution in 2010 helped spur Mission Healthcare Foundation's successful fundraising campaign for the Cancer Center, which opened to the Western North Carolina region in November 2011. Mary Ann Rice, SECU senior vice president of the Asheville-Biltmore Village branch, accepted the award on behalf of SECU's members.

The foundation has awarded more than $65 million in grants throughout the state since it began operating in 2004. Its grants go to high impact projects in housing, education, healthcare and human services.

During the past five years SECU Foundation has granted more than $6.5 million to organizations for projects such as the Jackson County Public Library Complex in Jackson County, Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care in Caldwell County, Yancey County Library SECU Information Gateway in Yancey County, and Hospice and Palliative Care of Iredell County.

Geauga CU warns members of counterfeit checks

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BURTON, Ohio (12/20/12)--A small credit union in Ohio has alerted its members that it is the target of a teller check scam involving more than $10,000 in counterfeit checks.

Geauga CU, a $34 million asset credit union in Burton, Ohio, told the Ohio Credit Union League that it has notified its members of the check scam.

One check, totaling $3,800 and appearing to be from the credit union, includes fraudulently obtained account numbers and was processed in New Jersey, the league said.

The check appeared to come from a company called Southeastern Canopy in Shelby, Ala. The fraudsters who created the counterfeit checks obtained a copy of the credit union CEO's signature and they included it on the checks.

The credit union's website instructed members to contact 800-333-5971 to confirm the validity of any checks in question.

Snow shuts down CUNAs Madison office today

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MADISON, Wis. (12/20/12)--A heavy snowstorm last night and blizzard conditions have closed the Madison, Wis., office of the Credit Union National Association today, although some staff are working remotely from their homes. The Washington, D.C., office is open.

The closing does not affect News Now's operations. There will be a Friday edition of CUNA's daily.

On Wednesday, credit unions in the Midwest were announcing closures for today.

For example, Madison-based Summit CU, the second largest credit union in Wisconsin, said all its 23 branches will be closed today (Journal Sentinel Dec. 19). It recommended that members go online to have access to their accounts, pay bills, make loan payments or transfer money. ATMs will also be functioning, said the credit union.

CUNA Mutual issues Risk Alert on cyberheists

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MADISON, Wis. (12/20/12)--CUNA Mutual Group has issued a Risk Alert for its bond policyholders regarding the planned massive cyberheists said to be targeting 30 U.S. financial institutions in the Spring of 2013.

CUNA Mutual issued the alert Tuesday, noting that security firm RSA had issued a warning in October about a planned attack by a group in Russia that claimed it piloted an earlier program that infected at least 300 to 500 computers in the U.S.

Another security firm, McAfee, last week issued a report that supported RSA's findings. It indicated that "Project Blitzkrieg" is being planned for the spring, instead of the fall. See News Now's related story, "McAfee: Prepare for 'Blitzkrieg' mass fraud campaign," by using the link.

The group is targeting accounts at banks that have deployed weak authentication methods. CUNA Mutual offered risk mitigation tips to its bond policyholders and suggested they consider additional layered security controls.

Pennsylvania CU Foundation 2013 budget set

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (12/20/12)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation Board of Directors has approved a 2013 budget, with projected revenues of $252,600--including $15,000 for Reality Fairs.

The budget also contains expenditures of $242,600, including $155,000 in grants, $15,000 for Reality Fair materials, and $81,600 in regular operating expenses (Life is a Highway Dec. 19).

The board also set a fundraising goal of $248,000--or an anticipated 7.3% increase--over 2012 projections.

Other board actions included:

  • A moment of silence honoring Bob McCormack, the first foundation chairman, who died Dec. 9;
  • Approval of a $1,000 disaster relief grant to the Connecticut Charitable Foundation for victims of the Newtown, Conn., community tragedy;
  • Approval of 11 regular grants in financial literacy and credit union development totaling $54,210; and
  • Recognition of 1,387 students who participated at seven Reality Fairs during 2012.
The next foundation board meeting will be in April.

CUs make sure troops have a happy holiday

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MADISON, Wis. (12/20/12)--Credit unions nationwide are undertaking efforts to make sure that U.S. troops deployed in foreign countries will have a happy holiday season.

Some of the efforts include:

  • More than 100 State Employees' CU (SECU) "elves" from throughout North Carolina traveled Dec. 1 to a credit
    Click to view larger image Employees and volunteers at State Employees' CU in Raleigh, N.C., assembled 5,000 holiday gift boxes for North Carolina soldiers deployed overseas. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU)
    union operations center in Raleigh to help support its third annual SECU Supports the Troops holiday campaign packing day event. As the morning unfolded, the elves--SECU staff and volunteers--assembled, labeled and taped 5,000 holiday gift boxes filled with wish-list items for North Carolina National Guardsmen and other North Carolina-based deployed soldiers. Thirty-four pallets with more than 400 cases of "gifts from home" were then loaded into two SECU sleighs--two U.S. Postal Service 18-wheelers--for delivery to military bases worldwide. With collection efforts beginning in mid-September, SECU's 245 branches statewide decorated their foyers with art displays and accepted wish-list donations from members and local community groups through Oct. 31. Included in the holiday boxes were travel-sized dental supplies, soap, shampoo, first aid items, games, socks and snacks.  Heartwarming letters from North Carolina school children, expressing thanks for the soldiers' service were added as the final touch.  Monetary contributions from members were used to help with shipping costs.
  • These marines stationed in Afghanistan appreciated holiday packages sent to them by INOVA FCU in Elkhart, Ind. (Photo provided by INOVA FCU).

    INOVA FCU in Elkhart, Ind., shipped 10 large boxes to a group of Marines stationed in Afghanistan. When the packages arrived, the members of Engr Co B 6th ESB 4th MLG said it was like Christmas. They found items from snacks, to toothbrushes, to an Xbox 360 inside. INOVA wanted to make being away from home a little easier for the soldiers, who will be overseas this Christmas. INOVA employees donated items such as candy, oatmeal, soap, hand warmers, video games, eye drops, manicure kits and notebooks. INOVA members made donations at the teller line that were used to buy additional supplies such as batteries, sheets and games. The project was especially meaningful to INOVA Cash Service Representative Anna Smith, who is engaged to one of the soldiers. "It brought tears to my eyes to see how much we collected," she said. Smith was in contact with her fiancé, Cpl. Brandon Evans, after the packages arrived. "They said it was like Christmas for them, and since they won't get a normal Christmas this year, it was the next best thing."
  • Some 50 military families and friends at two California credit unions recently had the opportunity to connect with loved ones for the holiday season because of Operation Best Wishes, a program sponsored by the Defense Credit Union Council, with assistance from the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' newly launched
    Click to view larger image Operation Best Wishes, a program sponsored by the Defense Credit Union Council, with assistance from the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' newly launched C-Sun Studios, set up a mobile video-recording studio at predominantly military-affiliated credit unions. Pictured is a family preparing to send a video greeting. (Photo provided by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues)
    C-Sun Studios. This year, the tour of the Operation Best Wishes--a national program offered as a free service by America's credit unions--covered eight states. The California leg of the tour included stops at Grossmont Schools FCU in El Cajon and Travis Air Force Base (AFB) in Vacaville. Travis CU in Vacaville, hosted the Travis AFB event. Operation Best Wishes sets up a mobile video-recording studio--this year provided by C-Sun Studios--at predominantly military-affiliated credit unions. The military and their families are invited to use the studio to record and make personalized video greeting cards e-mailed to deployed loved ones or other family members who will not be with them during the holidays. It differs from Skype and other Web-based communications--in that, the video greeting cards are produced by using a green backdrop, enabling families to be superimposed over holiday animations.
  • Jami, Robert, Tyson and Cheyanne Torres of Romeo in Michigan got an early visit from Santa this year with Channel 955's Mojo in the Morning "Breaking & Entering" and Community Choice CU in Farmington Hills, Mich. Along with many hard-working families, the Torres family has been hit during difficult economic times. Jami and Robert, both veteran Marines, had difficulties bouncing back from service--along with Jami's growing health concerns. Channel 955's Mojo in the Morning brings the holidays to local families who are experiencing hardship. Every year, the show provides needy families with truckloads of food, necessities and gifts.
  • Belvoir FCU employees contributed more than $1,500 to an employee-giving fund  for the holiday season. The employees of Woodbridge, Va.-based Belvoir FCU have made supporting families in need an annual tradition through the United Service Organizations' (USO) "Adopt-A-Family" program, the Fort Belvoir Chaplin, and Operation Sugarplum, provided by Army Community Service. With the donations of credit union employees, Belvoir FCU was able to adopt 10 children from the USO Metropolitan Washington and one military family of four. Those adopted by Belvoir were given gifts to help make their holidays brighter. Belvoir also donated $300 to the Operation Sugarplum program, which provided eligible families assigned to Fort Belvoir gifts and/or food cards during the holidays.
  • Since 1999, First Liberty FCU in Great Falls, Mont., has spearheaded Operation Happy Holidays in which Montana service members deployed overseas receive packages of holiday treats from home (Great Falls Tribune Nov. 26). Operation Happy Holidays will ship packages to roughly 550 troops this year. Also, students at local elementary schools make holiday cards to send to the troops. When servicemen and women return from deployment, they provide volunteers at Operation Happy Holiday with feedback about packages, and some help load boxes to send to others, the newspaper said.

Noreen posthumously awarded Minn CU Builder award

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (12/20/12)--Walter Noreen, former volunteer at Postal CU, Woodbury, Minn., was posthumously honored with the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation's (MnCUF's) Credit Union Builder Award this month.

This distinction recognizes those who have dedicated time and energy to building the credit union movement. Nominations are made by credit unions and other organizations in honor of or in memory individuals who has been instrumental in their success.

An assistant postmaster, Noreen was first elected to the board of directors of St. Paul Postal Employees CU, now Postal CU, in 1967. Among his many affiliations, Noreen served as District Governor of Lions International, and was an active member of the St. Paul Park/Newport Lions Club. He helped found the St. Croix Lions and helped create Camp New Hope. After more than two decades of volunteer service, he retired from the board in 1990. 

Noreen joins 13 other individuals honored in the past five years with the MnCUF's CU Builder Award. The names of the recipient and the contributing credit union are permanently displayed in the Minnesota Credit Union Network's lobby.

"Through the generous donation of their time, energy and resources, these individuals have exemplified the true meaning of the credit union philosophy," said MnCUF Chair Pat Brekken.

Nutmeg State FCU launches Conn branch on wheels

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ROCKY HILL, Conn. (12/20/12)--Nutmeg State FCU, Rocky Hill, Conn., has rolled out Connecticut's first mobile branch.

Click to view larger image Nutmeg State FCU can bring the branch to its members with Connecticut's first mobile branch. The credit union plans to employ the full-service branch on wheels daily, serving members by making stops at their workplaces and schools. (Photo provided by Nutmeg State FCU)
The credit union plans to employ the full-service branch on wheels daily, serving by making stops at their workplaces and schools.

"This is yet another way we're trying to create superior service to our members," said Nutmeg State FCU President/CEO John Holt. "This new mobile branch will offer the ultimate conveniences as it's equipped to administer all services, just like a branch. It even has an ATM on board."

Nutmeg's new mobile branch debuted Dec. 6 at Illing Middle School in Manchester, Conn.  The school is a participant in Nutmeg's School Banking Program, aimed at teaching students financial literacy at a young age. While on the bus, the kids learned the basics of banking, the difference between a bank and a credit union, the importance of budgeting, the various types of accounts, how interest grows and how to manage a loan.

The mobile branch made its second stop on Dec. 8 at the Newington Price Chopper, where it collected nonperishable food items to be donated to local food banks this holiday season.

Besides community venues, the mobile branch will serve in disaster-relief situations.  Nutmeg's mobile branch would be deployed to impacted communities to assist residents with their banking needs. A generator and dual backup cell towers power the branch.

The vehicle will be staffed with Nutmeg State FCU personnel. On board the bus, consumers can open accounts, apply for loans and access almost any service they would in a physical branch.

Malcolm Gladwell to keynote CUNAs ACUC

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MADISON, Wis. (12/20/12)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) announced Wednesday that The New Yorker staff writer and author of four New York Times bestsellers Malcolm Gladwell will be a keynoter at CUNA's 2013 America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC), June 30-July4 at the Hilton New York in New York City.

Gladwell is a British-Canadian journalist and best-selling author. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. Gladwell is author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), Outliers: The Story of Success (2008), and What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009).

Gladwell often writes about applications of research and new ideas in the social sciences, making frequent use of academic work in the areas of sociology, psychology and social psychology.

In 2005, he was announced as one of Time's 100 most influential people. He is ranked No. 10 on The Thinkers 50 2011, and in 2007 he received the American Sociological Association's first Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues.  His New Yorker archives, details on his books, and his blog are at

For more information about speakers and sessions at America's Credit Union Conference, visit the link.

CU House calls for Hall of Leaders nominations (12/19/2012)

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WASHINGTON (12/20/12)--Credit Union House is calling for nominations for its Credit Union House Hall of Leaders. Nomination forms are due by Jan. 18.

The Hall of Leaders provides lasting recognition for credit union leaders whose commitment has made a significant impact on the credit union movement at the local, state or national level.

Those selected for the honor have shown commitment that inspires others in the credit union movement. Inductees include board chairmen, league presidents, credit union CEOs, league board members and volunteers.

Nomination forms must be submitted by the deadline for recognition at the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference, Feb.24-28 in Washington, D.C. They can be obtained on Credit Union House's website and sent to:

Credit Union House

403 C St. NE

Washington, D.C. 20002

All nominations must be approved by the state league where the credit union is affiliated.

Credit Union House is a townhouse in Washington, D.C., owned by every state credit union trade association and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. It was built primarily for credit unions and credit union groups nationwide as a coordination center on Capitol Hill and is considered a symbol of the strength and permanence of the credit union movement on the national scene.

For more information, use the links.

CU System briefs (12/19/2012)

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  • SAN DIEGO (12/20/12)--The 2012 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl kicks off today at 5 p.m. PT at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The BYU Cougars and San Diego Aztecs will vie for the Poinsettia Bowl title in the eighth annual bowl. The game will be aired on ESPN, according to the bowl's website. Celebrations officially kicked off Tuesday evening in downtown San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter with the Five Star Tours Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March, featuring marching bands and spirit squads from BYU and San Diego State University …
  • SAINT JOSEPH, Mich. (12/20/12)--A sheriff's department motorcycle team, which was on the verge of elimination because of budget constraints, now has a chance, thanks to Saint Joseph, Mich.-based Honor CU, according to the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor Dec. 17). The $430 million asset credit union announced its support of the Berrien County Sheriff's Department Motorcycle Team, which provides safety patrols and are a part of many community events, said Honor CU CEO Scott McFarland. The credit union made a donation in efforts to keep the program up and running for one year. Pictured are, from left, deputies Donald Lighthart Jr. and Charles Heit, McFarland, and deputy Jamie Laughlin (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League) …

Invest in America celebrates 500000th vehicle sold

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (12/20/12)--The Michigan-based Invest in America credit union member rewards program celebrated a milestone Wednesday: the sale of the 500,000th vehicle sold through the four-year-old program.

The nationwide program provides savings on products and services to credit union members from business partners.

Click to view larger image Celebrating the sale of the 500,000th vehicle sold under the Invest in America rewards program are, from left: Jeff Edwards, General Motors director of retail planning and incentives; Teri Vollmar, Genisys CU member who bought the milestone vehicle; Jackie Buchanan, Genisys CU president/CEO; and David Adams, CEO of Michigan Credit Union League and Affiliates. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League)
A member of Auburn Hills, Mich.-based, $1.5 billion asset Genisys CU stepped behind the wheel of the milestone vehicle purchased through the program at a special commemorative ceremony attended by Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates CEO David Adams, Genisys CU President/CEO Jackie Buchanan, General Motors Co. Director of Retail Planning and Incentives Jeff Edwards.

"Today's milestone is a celebration of the strong partnership between the credit union industry and companies like General Motors," said Adams. "Invest in America reflects what it truly means to support American products, American workers and the American economy. As our nation emerges from tough times, credit unions continue to do everything they can to support the American Economy."

He applauded members for buying American and General Motors "for its willingness to be part of this innovative program. This 500,000th vehicle is proof positive of the combined strength of the credit union and the domestic auto industries."

The program, launched in 2008, is administered by league affiliate CU Solutions Group. Under the program, credit unions nationwide receive savings on products and services offered by partnering U.S. companies, including General Motors. Nearly 3,500 credit unions across the country, representing more than 80% of credit union members, support Invest in America.

"Through this program, we have yet another opportunity to highlight the credit union difference and offer our members superior service and great value," said Genisys' Buchanan.

GM's Edwards noted that "We are grateful to credit unions across Michigan and nationally for encouraging their members to support American companies like GM while promoting value and quality."

The program was the recipient of the 2012 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Program, the highest honor in the credit union industry.  For more information, use the link.