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Louisiana activates aid for Ike Gustav survivors

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HARAHAN, La. (9/17/08)--The Louisiana Credit Union Foundation, in partnership with the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), has activated the online disaster relief system CUAid.coop to raise money for Louisiana credit union people affected by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Credit union supporters can now make donations through CUAid.coop, a secured website that accepts credit cards and wire transfers. Louisiana credit unions, employees, volunteers, and members can donate online via www.CUAid.coop/Louisiana. As donations are posted through CUAid.coop, NCUF will coordinate with the Louisiana foundation to distribute money efficiently to those who need it in the affected areas. All donations via CUAid.coop will go toward grants. Donations will be forwarded in their entirety to credit union organizations in affected areas through NCUF, which is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code. NCUF does not use any portion of disaster relief donations to pay for the CUAid.coop web platform, travel to disaster areas, or any of NCUF’s costs to administer the national disaster relief program for credit unions. “CU Aid is one of many ways our foundation gives back to the credit union movement to thank donors for all their generosity,” explained NCUF Deputy Director Steve Bosack. “We especially want to help our friends in Louisiana recover as quickly as possible.”

Damages far greater widespread says CUNA Mutual

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MADISON, Wis. (9/17/08)--CUNA Mutual Group says that damages to credit unions wrought by Hurricane Ike last weekend are significant. "As expected, damages caused by Hurricane Ike are far greater and more widespread than almost all other Category 2 hurricanes we've seen in recent years," said Phil Tschudy, media relations manager at CUNA Mutual. "Ike's large size has resulted in losses from south of Galveston, Texas, through Louisiana. Although many deal with minor roof, sign and water damage, we are seeing some substantial losses in the Galveston and Houston areas ranging from major roof damage to large flood claims," he told News Now. "We do not have reports of any main credit union locations being totaled. There are, however, a couple of branch facilities that we believe will be total losses," he said. There likely will be more. "Authorities continue to restrict access to some areas, which is hampering our claims inspection teams, although we have been able to get to many of the most severely impacted credit unions," Tschudy said. "Many credit unions remain without power, and some have been unable to inspect their facilities. We expect to see more claims reported over the next several days. As more areas become accessible, our catastrophe adjusters will be visiting all locations reporting major damage," he said. "We strongly encourage affected policyholders that have not yet contacted CUNA Mutual to do so as soon as possible by calling our toll-free disaster hotline, which is answered 24/7, at 800-637-2676," Tschudy added. Texas “will not be normal for several weeks,” said Rick Grady, Texas Credit Union League vice president of marketing and communications. Parts of Texas are without power and will be for several weeks. Because of debris and missing road systems, law enforcement and legal officials have asked evacuees not to return to the area until it is safe, the league said. The Texas league is communicating with its credit unions through its website, onsite visits to affected credit unions and cell phones. The league website is updated regularly with the status of each credit union, and special voicemail and e-mail telephone lines have been installed so that credit union CEOs can report their condition to the league. The Texas league also is using Twitter to get out information and is looking into adding a private messaging service to send text messages to cell phones.

Dozens of CU employees homes were destroyed by Ike

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/17/08)--The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) has been contacting every credit union in the area hit by Hurricane Ike last week and has learned that dozens of credit union employees' homes are destroyed. “They've lost everything," said Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) Executive Director Jill Pharr. "Hundreds are facing significant out-of-pocket expenses to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Ike, and still others haven't even been able to return to their homes to assess damage; instead they are relying on the kindness of friends, family members or shelters for the basic necessities," Pharr said. “Countless more have had to deplete their checking and savings accounts just to get themselves and their families out of harm's way, with expenses piling up,” she added. The TCUF is urging the state's credit unions not affected by the hurricane to come to their aid. About 200 credit unions are in the affected area, and over the next several days and weeks, Pharr anticipates the foundation will receive several hundred grant applications. “These are our friends, colleagues and even family members who have been affected. Many are modest-income earners who, despite severe personal losses and emotional trauma, are bravely trying to get back to work while coping with this disaster,” Pharr said. “I'm confident that credit unions all over state will heed this call and come to their aid. We are a direct life line and often one of their first sources of emergency relief.” Credit unions from outside of Texas are encouraged to donate through CUAid.coop, the National Credit Union Foundation's (NCUF) online disaster relief platform, said Steve Bosack, NCUF deputy director. The platform directs 100% of donations to disaster relief grants for credit union people. Bosack noted that in the first two business days since NCUF activated the Gulf Coast hurricane relief appeal through CUAid.coop, NCUF has received $16,080 in donations and pledges. More information about CUAid.coop is available at the resource link. Credit unions in Texas are encouraged by TCUF to donate directly to to the TCUF Disaster Relief Fund, either by mail, 4455 LBJ Freeway, Suite 1100, Farmers Branch TX 75244-5998, or wire to Southwest Corporate FCU, ABA 311990511, Texas Credit Union Foundation, Account # 311900048, Reference: Disaster Relief funds. More information about emergency grants and donations is available at TCUF's website, www.tcuf.coop, on the Disaster tab. TCUL, Credit Union Resources Inc. and TCUF have contributed a total of $30,000 to the Disaster Relief Fund. TCUF has received pledges of donations from leagues and state foundations, as well as credit unions. Credit unions are encouraged to post on their website the CUAid link, www.CUAid.coop/Texas. This online donation tool can be used by members and credit union employees to make secure online donations to the disaster relief fund. As with credit union donations, 100% of these donations go directly to credit union disaster victims. “I implore our Texas credit unions to open their hearts and contribute to the Foundation's Disaster Relief Fund. Our credit union family needs us and we need to make sure they know they are not alone,” said TCUL CEO Dick Ensweiler.

CU System briefs (09/16/2008)

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* BEMIDJII, Md. (9/17/08)--Members of Bemidjii, Md.-based Headwaters FCU have voted to merge with TruStar FCU, a $116.3 million asset credit union based in International Falls, Minn. The board of the $11.1 million asset Headwaters said a merger would enable members to receive enhanced products and services and would strengthen its financial position (International Falls Daily Journal Sept. 16) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/17/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation has awarded a second-year $10,000 grant to Erie FCU's community partnership for classroom financial education to 7,000 students in 75 schools within 18 school districts of northwest Pennsylvania (Life is a Highway Sept. 16). The funds are part of a $20,000 grant over two years. Financial and administrative contributions from several partners have generated an additional $138,000 to implement the program, said project coordinator Sandi Carangi, vice president of business development for Erie FCU … * PORTLAND, Maine (9/17/08)--Maine's credit unions honored 9/11 victims in their annual People Remembering and Helping People
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
ceremony at the 9/11 memorial in Portland on Sept. 11. Also honored were organizations that work to protect Maine People. Checks were presented to the Emergency Food Relief Fund of Maine's five chapters of the American Red Cross. The credit unions also donated to a food pantry in each chapter. A total of $7,055 was donated. In the photo, Diana Dionne (center, holding check) of the Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger poses with recipients from the Red Cross and food pantries. (Photo provided by the Maine Credit Union League) … * NAPERVILLE, Ill. (9/17/08)--The Illinois Credit Union League has hired Brad Bergmooser as compliance analyst in the Office of General Counsel. He will assume responsibility for preparing analytical reports that will be distributed to ICUL's nearly 400 member credit unions. Previously, Bergmooser served as legislative counsel for Michigan State Sen. Randy Richardville (R-17). He also worked as a deputy campaign manager when Sen. Richardville first ran for the Senate. He is also a former law clerk for the Monroe, Mich.-based Braunlich, Russow and Braunlich, PC law firm … * COTTON PLANT, Ark. (9/17/08)--Bradford Caldwell, a former Campus Credit Union Council executive director, has launched a radio station, KAPW-FM "Power 99," in Cotton Plant, Ark. The station will serve cities in East Arkansas. Caldwell, now president/CEO of Caldwell Media LLC, was in the credit union council position from 1999 to 2002. He is a credit union development educator as well as a third-generation broadcaster … * SAGINAW, Mich. (9/17/08)--Former Bay City News newsman Earl J. Perry, founder of the Bay City Times CU in Saginaw, Mich., died Thursday at his home. He was 93. Perry was the chief operating officer of the credit union and for several yuears after his retirement he continuted to head the credit union from his home. The credit union was eventually incorporated into the Communications Family CU, Saginaw. Communications Family CU has $461.6 million assets (Bay City Times Sept. 15) …

Three CUs get grants for foreclosure relief programs

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CINCINNATI (9/17/08)--The Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of Cincinnati awarded a $200,000 grant Monday for mortgage relief programs in Ohio. The “Preserving American Dream” grant for mortgage counseling and foreclosure mitigation was among seven grants totaling $1.3 million to help distressed homeowners in 44 counties throughout Ohio. The $200,000 in private funding was awarded to seven financial institutions led by Wright-Patt CU, a $1.380 billion asset, Fairborn-based credit union, for homeowners in Montgomery, Greene, Clinton, Darke, Fayette, Miami, Preble and Shelby counties. Other participating credit unions include River Valley CU, a $148.5 million asset, Miamisburg-based credit union; and Universal 1 CU Inc., a $288.4 million asset, Dayton- based credit union. FHLB of Cincinnati President David Hehman announced the grants Monday. “Our members and housing partners told us of the difficulties they had coping with foreclosures in their communities,” he said. “In many cases, the homeowners needed just a few thousand dollars to become current on their mortgages and stay in their homes. We created Preserving the American Dream as one thrust of a larger effort to deal with foreclosures in our district.” “Bringing greater financial opportunities to the residents of the Miami Valley is an important role for Wright-Patt CU,” said Doug Fecher, Wright-Patt president/CEO. “For a lot of people, home ownership is one of the best ways to build personal wealth. Unfortunately many are watching this personal wealth disappear as they struggle to keep their homes,” he added. “This grant will help Dayton area families sustain home ownership and protect their wealth.” The FHLB of Cincinnati has a congressional mandate to devote 10% of its annual profits to the Affordable Housing Program. Through this program, up to $3,500 will be made available to help a homeowner receive foreclosure prevention counseling or benefit from other foreclosure mitigation steps. The funding is made available through FHLB of Cincinnati member financial institutions to qualifying nonprofit housing counseling agencies that provide foreclosure/loss mitigation counseling services in the area.

Status of CUs in immediate disaster area

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/17/08)--A number of credit unions in the Houston area that closed for Hurricane Ike are now operational, according to the Texas Credit Union League. The league updated its website to reflect the condition of credit unions in the areas affected by the storm. Operational credit unions include:
* Baycel FCU--main office in Bay City open; * Beacon FCU--LaPorte branch will open today. ATMs and debit cards are functional; * Cal-Com FCU; * City of Deer Park FCU; * Coastal Bend PO FCU; * Community Resource CU--open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; * DuPont Goodrich FCU--Lumberton and Jasper offices open; * First Community CU of Houston; * Firestone Community FCU--operating from Mauriceville location; * Graphic Arts CU--operating at Kempwood branch; * Gulf Coast Educators CU; * Harris County FCU--located in downtown Houston; * Houston FCU--Sugarland, Rosenberg and drive-thru at Northwest branches open; * Houston Chronicle Employees CU; * Houston Police FCU--open at disaster recovery site. Members should use e-branch, ATMs and shared branching; * Houston TX Firefighters FCU; * Light Commerce CU; * Members Choice CU; * MemberSource CU; * Navy Army FCU; * Neches FCU--CU running off-site in Irving. Port Neches branch scheduled to open today; * People’s Trust FCU--four branches and call center open; * Pioneer Muslim CU; * Port Terminal FCU; * PrimeWay FCU; * Shared Resources CU; * Space City CU; * StarTrust FCU; * Sugar Land Employees CU; * Team Financial FCU; * Texas Bay Area CU; * Union Fidelity FCU; * United Energy CU; * USE CU--operating in downtown federal building; and * Victoria Teachers FCU.
Ike hit the Houston area on Saturday, and many parts of the city are still without power. For more information, use the link.

Texas CUs that are open not affected by Ike

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (9/17/08)--The Texas Credit Union League has reported a number of credit unions in the Houston area that are open and unaffected by Hurricane Ike. Ike made landfall in Galveston near Houston Saturday. Parts of the city are still without power, and some evacuees have been told to stay out of the area until it is safe to return. Credit unions that were unaffected by Ike include:
* Amplify FCU; * Angela County Teachers CU; * Angelina Federal Employees CU; * Bayou City FCU; * Brazos Valley Schools CU; * Chocolate Bayou Community FCU; * Cowboy Country FCU; * Cy-Fair FCU; * Doches CU; * Memorial Hermann CU; * Metroplex CU; * NAFT FCU; * Public Employees CU; * Rio Grande Masonic PH FCU; * St. Luke’s Community FCU; * Star of Texas CU; * Texas Association of Prof. CU; * Texas Dow Employees CU * Texasgulf FCU; and * United SA FCU.
The league continues to update its website with the status of Houston area credit unions. For more information, use the link.

Filene launches Legacy Gifts Fund for research

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MADISON, Wis. (9/17/08)--The Filene Research Institute has unveiled a Legacy Gifts Fund to support the long-term research and innovation activities of the credit union community. The fund offers a number of methods for participation:
* Memorials and honorariums: Gifts made in memoriam or in honor of an individual’s career or service; * Gifts through a donor’s will: Testamentary gifts allow a donor to bequest through an estate; * Retirement funds, life insurance, and financial accounts: Naming the Filene Research Institute as a beneficiary to confer gifts outside a will; and * Cash donations: The simplest way to support the institute and fund ongoing programs.
“For two decades, Filene has been a powerful force for the continued development of the cooperative credit union idea,” said Filene Board Chair Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president/CEO, Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif. “Gifts to the Legacy Gift Fund will help to maintain projects that impact the very future of credit unions, as well as the evolution of new ideas to help us serve our members better.” “Filene research into market and operational issues helps Congress and state legislatures understand the needs of credit union members and the impact of public policies on credit unions,” said Mark Meyer, Filene CEO. “Research also helps credit unions to develop new and better consumer financial services,” he added. “Filene findings assist in adapting to rapidly changing economic, legal and social conditions. The Legacy Gift Fund will secure the future of these important contributions to the movement.” For more information on the fund, contact Lois Belekevich, director of membership, at 608-231-8552 or e-mail to loisb@filene.org.

WOCCU delegation visits Polands largest CU

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GDYNIA, Poland (9/17/08)--SKOK Stefczyka opened its 288th branch Tuesday to serve members who live and work near the Baltic Sea. The grand opening ceremonies put Poland's largest credit union more than halfway to its goal of 500 branches by 2012. Credit union officials say they will need every last one of them to compete effectively in Poland's growing financial market.
Click to view larger image The SKOK Stefcyzka facility in Gdynia, Poland, the credit union's 288th branch, celebrated its grand opening Tuesday with a visiting delegation from the World Council of Credit Unions.
Click to view larger image Sùawomir Michalewski, deputy director of SKOK Stefczyka (right), discusses credit union growth with Mike Schenk, Credit Union National Association vice president of economics and statistics. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions.)
"There are no checks and very few credit and debit cards in Poland," S³awomir Michalewski, deputy director of SKOK Stefczyka, told a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) delegation visiting Poland as part of a combined education and advocacy program. "This is a cash society and requires many hands." Poland's cash dependency may have resulted from a lack of financial industry development during consecutive decades under the Nazis and Communism. It also poses a challenge for the country's burgeoning credit union movement, which experienced a rebirth with the Solidarity movement's success in 1989. The challenge facing Polish credit unions, SKOK Stefcyzka officials say, is to create an appetite for credit and an appreciation for electronic transaction capabilities among Poland's 38 million citizens. SKOK Stefczyka serves 600,000 members and maintains assets of US$1.1 billion, a profile the credit union has managed to reach within 15 years. Branching strategies play a significant role in its growth. However, the constant member lines in branches across Poland have raised both service and economic concerns for the credit union. "It's nice that [members] spend 40 minutes talking to us, but we have to decide if we are getting sufficient business from those conversations," Michalewski said. "We have to change the behavior of our employees regarding efficiency." Part of that change will be to evolve from a service to sales culture and promote more cost-effective means of serving members that will lead to greater use of credit and more comprehensive services, he added. "We must turn loyalty, which is quite nice, into profitability," Michalewski added. This will be no easy task, according to the credit union's research. More than 50% of members say they choose their financial institution based on proximity, and more than twice that number cite safety and soundness as the key issue. About 18% say an expansive ATM network is important. However, a small percentage of members have debit and credit cards, just 20% have any type of loan, and even fewer members have savings or investment accounts. While SKOK Stefczyka's challenges are distinct to Poland, they also have a familiar ring for credit unions in developed countries worldwide, according to Mike Schenk, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) vice president of economics and statistics and a member of the WOCCU delegation. Increasing competition from foreign banks and a growing economy will force Polish credit unions by necessity to change how they conduct business. "Brick and mortar is still the name of the game in Poland, and that requires lots of branches and lots of people," Schenk said. "That puts lots of pressure on expense ratios." Gaining greater share of wallet from existing members in addition to growing membership totals--something SKOK Stefczyka already has discovered--will be a strategy not only for growth, but for survival of Poland's credit unions, Schenk said. At the same time, the credit unions' ability to increase member satisfaction and back-office efficiencies offer Poland's credit unions advantages that even U.S. credit unions don't have. "In a lot of areas, Poland's credit unions are further along than we are," Schenk added. "It's fascinating to see the differences and resources available from an institutional and societal perspective." The WOCCU delegation includes Schenk; Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer; Joe Bergeron, president of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions; Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; Barry Jolette, CEO of San Mateo CU, Redwood City, Calif., and WOCCU first vice chairman; Jim McCormack, president of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association; Mike Mercer, president of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates; and WOCCU staff. On Thursday, the WOCCU delegation travels to Warsaw and, with members of the Polish credit union movement, will advocate on behalf of the country's cooperatives in the face of potentially damaging amendments to Poland's credit union laws.

Iowa CU convention begins today

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (9/17/08)--The annual Iowa Credit Union Convention, themed “Advancing Growth,” will take place in Dubuque today through Friday with more than 500 credit union CEOs, directors, executive staff, guests and vendors in attendance. This year’s theme was chosen to emphasize the role credit unions play for more than 850,000 Iowa residents. “To continue to improve the life of Iowans, credit union growth is critical for the future of our movement,” said Patrick S. Jury, president/CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League. “That’s why we have made it our sole focus for the 2008 convention.” The event starts today. On Thursday, keynote speaker Peter Duffy will discuss ways credit unions can explore the impact of consumer behavior, the evolving economy and regulation on credit union growth and earnings. On Friday, speaker Vince Lombardi Jr. will close the conference with a message about the qualities and commitment found in high-performing people, such as his father, the late football coach Vince Lombardi. Fifteen education sessions will focus on improving the identity of credit unions, the economy, and compliance updates.

CU Growth Solutions GAC nab design awards

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NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (9/17/08)--CU Growth Solutions, a division of the Michigan Credit Union League’s (MCUL) subsidiary CUcorp, has received three 2008 American Design Awards. The awards are from a large national design competitions and honor work in all forms of media--from print and collateral, to international design and national graphics. CU Growth Solutions earned awards for its work with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and the MCUL Education 2008 Midwest Management Conference. CU Growth Solutions, a marketing agency designed to assist credit unions and credit union-related businesses, worked with CUNA on developing the 2008 Government Affairs Conference logo. The American Graphic design awards were granted to 15% of the more than 10,000 entries submitted.