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Foundations prepare for aid appeal

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WASHINGTON (6/16/08)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is appealing to credit unions and related organizations for online CUAid donations to assist credit unions affected by the floods in the Midwest. CUAid is the national disaster relief program for credit unions. Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) had been accepting donations last week when flooding began. But with more flooding projected for the weekend, ICUF Executive Director Marybeth Foster said Friday it expected to receive more disaster relief grant applications than it can fund. ICUF was capping grants at $500 for immediate emergencies. Donors from Iowa can use www.cuaid.coop/iowa. Those from other states can use their own state's CUAid.coop site or the national site, CUAid. All sites link to a CUAid grant application for Iowa flood relief. Donations made through CUAid for the Iowa flood relief effort will go toward grants. NCUF does not use disaster funds to pay for the CUAid.coop web platform or any costs it incurs in administering the national disaster relief program for credit unions. Donations will help address several needs:
* Critical needs: Credit union employees and volunteers can receive assistance for items for daily living such as, but not limited to, food, water, ice, batteries, clothing, diapers, temporary shelter, housing, gas and transportation. Grant applicants who no longer work in the credit union movement more than 90 days after the disaster are no longer eligible for CUAid disaster relief grants unless they actively work to return to the credit union movement. * Longer-term Recovery Needs: Even after recovering what they can from insurance payouts, victims may need assistance rebuilding or relocating to a new home, or replacing lost vehicles and household items. As long as funds remain in the Disaster Relief Fund, those managing the recovery efforts may expand the grant criteria to include longer-term recovery needs not fully covered by insurance. * Reasonable Operational Needs: Assistance may also be provided directly to credit unions and their support organizations to help them become and remain operational. These expenses may include relocating, setting up temporary service facilities, joining shared service networks, hiring temporary staff, mentoring and counseling traumatized staff, repairing building damage, replacing destroyed computer software/hardware, office furniture, office supplies, and other needs not fully covered by insurance. All purchases must be reasonable and of the same standards as being replaced. * Assisting Credit Union Members: While CUAid’s guidelines focus on providing support to assist credit union organizations, their employees and families, some funds may be used to provide disaster-related services to members.

NYIB announces seven youth advocate scholarships

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (6/16/08)--The National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB) has selected seven credit union professionals for its annual scholarships, aiding the volunteer network’s objective to promote leadership development related to youth services and financial education. The awards cover conference and education fees, with five winners going to the July 28-31 NYIB Conference in Las Vegas, and two to the National Credit Union Foundation’s (NCUF) Credit Union Development Education (CUDE) program. Winners will be recognized at the 2008 NYIB Annual Conference, where the group’s Delegate of the Year and Volunteer of the Year also will be announced. Three credit union professionals have NYIB regional scholarships:
* West Region: Tana Jensen, Visa coordinator, Dakota Plains CU, Edgeley, N.D.; * Central Region: Greg Moeller, branch manager, Teachers CU, Goshen, Ind.; and * East Region: Toni Montgomery, community relations coordinator, AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Danielle Scott, financial education leader at LA DOTD FCU, Denham Springs, La., will attend the NYIB Conference on the Robert L. Curry Scholarship and Award. Scott’s involvement fits closely with the principles of leadership development exemplified by Curry, a former president/CEO of CUNA Mutual Group. Another participant--Elizabeth Janowski, CEO/manager of STAR CU, Madison, Wis.--will attend NYIB’s annual conference under the “Serving the Underserved” Scholarship. The award recognizes individuals working with credit unions designated to serve low-income or underserved markets. NYIB will help send two network members to the NCUF CUDE program: Joann Bergrud, marketing manager, North Star Community CU, Maddock, N.D., and Rebecca Isaacs, business development director, the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M. The next session is Aug.14-20 at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island, Wash.

Membership Growth Series Telco CU

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TARBORO, N.C. (6/16/08)--One of the biggest challenges Telco CU, Tarboro, N.C. faces in regard to membership growth is space. Telco CU grew its membership 19% from 2006 to 2007--to 10,929 members by focusing on select employee groups (SEGs). While the growth is welcomed, the more members Telco brings, the more space and back office support it must retain. “At first, when we grew our membership, they were coming in so fast it was hard to keep up. So the challenge is having enough space,” Telco CEO Charles Johnson told News Now. Telco recently added a new location--a combination call center and branch. It was built with the intention of freeing up space in Telco’s main branch and is used by members for basic transactions. “We were bulging at the seams at the main location,” Johnson said. This is the fourth installment of News Now's Membership Growth weekly interviews with fast credit union growers. The series is as part of an initiative of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Membership Growth Task Force. It focuses on fast "organic" membership growth, not growth by merger or indirect loans. The task force, chaired by Dick Ensweiler, president of the Texas Credit Union League, was convened at the request of CUNA's Immediate Past Board Chair Allan Kemp McMorris. Its purpose is to investigate, report on, and encourage credit unions to embrace opportunities, techniques and processes that will increase credit unions' membership retention and growth. With Telco focusing its membership growth strategy on SEGs, Johnson, who started his post as CEO in March 2005, made a point to talk with all local businesses within Edgecomb County about sponsorship. As a result, the credit union went from about 25 SEGs to 100, he said. The SEGs vary in sizes. “We have large plants and small businesses,” he said. Telco is looking to target SEGs in three nearby counties in the future. Johnson conducted a study of the other counties to see what opportunities are available, and the credit union will begin pursuing relationships with those businesses. Population-wise, the counties are bigger, but geographically they are about the same as Edgecomb, he said. Within the SEG growth is a second challenge--serving a diverse group of people. Some credit unions have single sponsors, so they can specialize in one group’s needs, Johnson said. But with a diverse membership base, “you have to be alert to different needs of people,” he said. “It keeps you on your toes to make sure you’re serving all of the people you need to.” Telco offers a standard package of savings, checking and loan services and a credit builder program for those with weak credit history. The credit building program has four steps and members can start at any step as determined by the credit union. In the program’s first level, a member can take out a $500 loan. The member “walks out with $250 in his or her pocket, and retains the other half in savings,” Johnson said. The loan has a sixth-month repayment period. “It’s not so far out that they lose on interest,” he said. After they pay off the loan, they receive the other $250. They can withdraw that amount, or keep it in savings. After passing Level 1, the members can start Level 2, and follow the same process with a $1,000 loan. Level 3 offers a $1,500 loan and Level 4 offers a $2,000 loan. The credit union went to a risk-based lending program because members with low credit sometimes wanted up to $5,000. “It they stick to the program, they’ll get that amount. It’s just staggered in increments,” Johnson said. While completing the levels, the member has a four-year relationship with Telco. “We’ll then consider them for the standard loan package,” he said. Anyone who wants to contact the CUNA Membership Growth Task Force can e-mail the account established for this purpose at cunamgtf@cuna.coop.

CUs offer loans to help members under water

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MADISON, Wis. (6/16/08)--Credit unions in several Midwestern states outlined what they're doing to help members and employees affected by the past week's severe weather. Many have employees and members directly impacted by flooding. At Centra CU in Columbus, Ind., 14 employees lost homes or cars, or experienced significant damage, said Nan Morrow, vice president of corporate development. Centra's relief program has three fronts: the members, the community and the employees, she said. For affected members, the credit union initiated a flood relief loan of $1,000 in immediate cash, with no payment for six months. "We're working with members who have existing loans and mortgages, and helping them determine what to do," Morrow told News Now Friday. Long-term concerns such as home equity will "last a long time Two branches of the $717 million asset credit union closed for half a day, she said, adding, "We're so thankful there was no internal damage." On Friday, all 22 branches and its ATMs were open. For the community, the credit union's staff donated to assistance organizations, such as the American Red Cross, and donated food and cleaning supplies. For employees, the credit union staff set up a voluntary assistance fund and a spread sheet with the lists of needs for each employee impacted by the floods. Other employees are donating items on the "registry." The credit union has also organized work teams to help clean up homes. "We're trying to help anyway we can," said Morrow Friday. Morrow noted that the area was under a thunderstorm watch and "we're expecting two more inches." In Terre Haute, Ind., more than 800 homes were damaged when a levee broke. Indiana State University FCU had "a handful" of employees experiencing water damage. According to Amanda Royer, marketing coordinator, the $74 million asset credit union launched a flood relief loan plan on June 7 and advertised it in the local newspaper on Thursday. The 5-5-5 loan offers 5% annual percentage yield, is for $5,000 maximum, and is a five-year loan. Employees get the same terms but are offered 0% on interest. Although Indiana State University FCU is less than a mile from the river, its member and employee parking lots were under water. "We're helping people who want to know what to do with their mortgage if their house is a complete loss. One of the professors lost everything. He was in the subdivision that was wiped out when the levee broke," Royer said. Westby (Wis.) Co-op CU has branches in four Wisconsin counties hard hit by floods: Vernon, Sauk, Monroe and Richland counties. Its Reedsburg branch experienced the most interruption of business--loss of communications with the main branch for two days--when the Baraboo River reached record levels. "We communicated by cell phone," said President Kevin Hauser, a board member of the Wisconsin Credit Union League. The credit union kept its drive-up open to make sure members had service. To process transactions, it would communicate the transactions to other offices, which would post the transactions via a dedicated line. "It was important to get to the point we could post transactions. Our members needed the cash," Hauser told News Now. Several employees couldn't get to work because of flooded or washed away roads. Many members were displaced in Ovolka, Ontario, LaFarge, Viola, Soldiers Grove and Gays Mills--all under water. The credit union went through a similar heavy flood last fall, he said. Then, it waived overdraft fees for the entire credit union for two days--even for members not impacted by the flood. "It was our way of thanking them for their membership and urging them to help someone else in need," Hauser said. Last fall, it also authorized deferment on payments up to three months for members who requested it and even waived the early withdrawal penalty on a member's certificate. Staff in Reedsburg also is helping the community by taking their casual day fund and donating it to the American Red Cross, by providing workers with food, and by filling sand bags. The credit unions were bracing themselves for a wet weekend, with more storms to compound the problems. Centra's Morrow noted that the area was under a thunderstorm watch and "we're expecting two more inches."

NCUF sponsors retired NYC fire chief at ACUC

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WASHINGTON (6/16/08)--Richard Picciotto, author of “Last Man Down: A Firefighter’s Story,” will be the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF)-sponsored keynote speaker June 30 at the America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo in New York City. The retired New York City fire chief will give an eyewitness account of the events on 9/11 and a tribute to the lives lost that day. His account also is a celebration of life and its unpredictable nature. Picciotto also will share how the training strategies and tactics of the New York City Fire Department work to develop leadership, motivation, risk management and decision making. Also, Steve Delfin, NCUF executive director, will present a video message about CUAid, the only national disaster relief fundraising program exclusively benefiting the credit union community. After the general session, Picciotto will hold a book signing at the NCUF booth where attendees can learn more about CUAid.

CUNA Mutuals crop insurance provides flood relief

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MADISON, Wis. (6/16/08)--CUNA Mutual Group can help with recent flood relief efforts in the Midwest since it provides multi-peril crop insurance coverage to farmers and agricultural producers nationwide. Crop insurance protects farmers from financial losses that result from natural causes such as drought, excessive moisture, hail, wind, frost, insects and disease. Multi-Peril Crop Insurance is a $5-billion industry in the U.S., CUNA Mutual said. In 2007, CUNA Mutual and partner Producers Ag Insurance Group (Pro Ag) reported a combined total of $350 million in premiums paid for crop insurance, Phil Tschudy, CUNA Mutual media relations manager, told News Now. “As far as potential losses and claims, it is too early to assess now,” Tschudy explained. “Adjusters won’t be able to get to affected areas until flood waters recede, and some of the crops might be replanted yet. However, there will be an impact in areas where we write business.” CUNA Mutual entered into an agreement in August 2006 with Pro Ag, an Amarillo, Texas-based crop insurer. CUNA Mutual purchased a minority ownership share in the company in September 2007. “Our investment in Pro Ag and the crop insurance business is an example of CUNA Mutual growing in the right direction,” Jeff Post, president/CEO of CUNA Mutual, said at the time of the purchase. “At the same time we build capacity for growth, we remain firmly committed to the credit union market. The values that have served us well with credit unions will also serve as strengths in serving America’s farmers.” The agreement will enhance CUNA Mutual’s flexibility and financial strength through profitable revenue growth, improve the diversity of products, and create opportunities to help credit unions grow membership. “Credit union CEOs have told me repeatedly that membership growth is their No. 1 issue. By expanding into crop insurance, we can grow our company and contribute to the growth of credit unions,” Post said. “We will continue to explore strategic partnerships that can help CUNA Mutual, and credit unions grow in the future. “America's farmers share many of the values of the credit union movement and the cooperative spirit--with numerous cooperative businesses supporting the farming industry,” Post added. “I’m pleased we can promote the value of credit union membership and products to the farming industry.”

Latino CU conference Start simple in serving Hispanics

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (6/16/08)--The opportunities for credit unions to open their doors to the Hispanic population has never been greater, Juan Hernandez told attendees of the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference in Dallas this week. Hernandez is a former cabinet member of the Mexican government and a credit union member (LoneStar Leaguer June 13). Hispanics represent a large percentage of the unbanked. “They are not only being robbed by check cashers, payday lenders and pawnshops, but also by criminals who know they bank out of their back pocket,” he said. Credit unions should have a physical presence in Latino communities, listen to them, and “be there when it counts. But before launching any initiatives, credit unions need to do research, train staff, build infrastructure and develop processes for serving Latinos,” he said. Rene Vasquez Perez, director of institutional development for Caja Popular Mexicana (CPM), the largest credit union in Mexico, said credit unions should:
* Make the account opening process easy; * Make sure immigrants know their deposits are insured and safe; * Be in Latino neighborhoods and set hours of operation accordingly; and * Have a staff trained to answer their questions.
CPM signed a people-to-people partnership with the Texas and California Credit Union Leagues in 2002. The conference was organized by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions in collaboration with the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals, with sponsorship by the Texas Credit Union League.

Flood status of Iowa CUs updated

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DES MOINES, Iowa, and MADISON, Wis. (6/16/08)--Several credit unions in Iowa Friday reported closing or relocating due to extreme flooding in the area. Meanwhile, CUNA Mutual Group was assessing the impact caused by flooding in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana. More than 20 credit union locations have been affected by the flooding in Iowa. The most severely impacted are those credit unions residing in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Waterloo. Those reporting changes in operation, as of Friday:
* Alliant CU, Dubuque, closed its Cedar Rapids branch; * Cedar Falls Community CU, Cedar Falls, reopened downtown branch Friday; * Collins Community CU, Cedar Rapids, closed seven branches yesterday and reopened five today; * Community 1st CU, Ottumwa, closed the Amana branch and two Cedar Rapids branches; * Des Moines Metro CU, Des Moines, relocated to First Class and United Service CU; * First FCU, Cedar Rapids, reported one branch under water; * Iowa Community CU, Waterloo, reported the Waterloo branch as under water. The Cedar Rapids branch is closed and has been relocated to Collins branch; * Metco CU, Cedar Rapids, relocated to Quaker Oats; * Midwest Utilities CU, Waterloo, closed; * Nishna Valley CU, Atlantic, reported that long distance phone lines down Thursday were back up Friday; * Quaker Oats CU, Cedar Rapids, closed at noon Thursday and reopened Friday; * University of Iowa Community CU, Iowa City, closed the Iowa Memorial Union branch; and * Veridian CU, Waterloo: closed the downtown Lafayette branch.
The Iowa Credit Union League continued to receive reports from Iowa credit unions affected by the flooding and will continue to provide support as needed. “Credit unions are executing their disaster recovery plans to the best of their ability, but no plan can completely account for the 500-year flood we’re experiencing in Iowa,” said Murray Williams, vice president of the Iowa Credit Union League. As rains continued to fall in the Midwest Thursday and Friday, more flooding was expected. CUNA Mutual Group was focusing its efforts on Iowa and Wisconsin. "Although the affected area is widespread, our particular focus is in Iowa and Wisconsin, where several whole communities have been evacuated," Phil Tschudy, media relations manager at CUNA Mutual, told News Now. He noted that because flooding is covered by federal insurance, there likely will be only a few coverages that will come into play for credit unions. However, "staff from our property and casualty claims area are continuing to contact credit unions in the affected areas to see how they are doing and to determine how we might be able to help," he said. As of Friday, "we have only a few policyholders reporting minor water damage; however, that will likely change as flood-related evacuations are occurring from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines, Iowa." He noted that federal officials were warning residences along the Mississippi River to be prepared for the worst flooding in 30 years. CUNA Mutual added a new Disaster Recovery Team link to its home page on cunamutual.com. It provides information credit unions need if disaster strikes and links to information on disaster prevention and preparation. Credit unions with damage claims can contact CUNA Mutual's Disaster Response Claims at 800-637-2676, which is available 24/7/365.