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When It Comes To Community Service, CUs Reap Awards
MADISON, Wis. (9/30/13)--Credit unions don't go looking for awards for the good work they do in their communities. After all, community service is built into their DNA. But awards come naturally when a community or an institution recognizes those who go above and beyond in outreach efforts.
Nearly every week, throughout the year, a credit union somewhere is being presented an award by cities, universities, states, media, and too-numerous-to mention charities they've helped.  Often individual staffers receive accolades for their individual voluntarism. Credit unions also regularly bring in "Best of" awards from community publications and are named "best places to work" in their communities.
"Word is getting out about the value of credit unions in their communities," said Paul Gentile, Credit Union National Association executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement.  "Credit unions know the institutions they help appreciate their service. But receiving an award for that services doubles the impact in terms of awareness about credit unions' valued role in the community. It drives home the point that credit unions exist to serve."
Bob Corwin, president/CEO of Portland, Ore.-based Advantis CU, accepted the Corporate Philanthropy Award on behalf of the credit union from the Portland Business Journal. Advantis, Oregon Community CU and Unitus Community CU received the 2013 awards, which recognize local companies that direct the most money to nonprofits. The awards are based on total dollars given to nonprofits, volunteer hours, in-kind contributions and other generosity. (Photo provided by Northwest Credit Union Association)
A recent example involves three Portland, Ore.-area credit unions--Oregon Community CU, Advantis CU and Unitus Community CU--which received Portland Business Journal's 2013 Corporate Philanthropy Awards recognizing local companies that direct the most money to nonprofits, said the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem Sept. 17). The awards are based on total dollars given to nonprofits, volunteer hours, in-kind contributions and other generosity.
It's no surprise credit unions are on the list, Advantis President/CEO Bob Corwin said.  "Supporting local nonprofits is a natural extension of the credit union philosophy of people helping people, and we take every opportunity to assist the organizations that are working to make our communities strong."
OCCU contributed $494,915 and its employees volunteered nearly 2,100 hours at schools and community organization in 2012, said the Business Journal. Advantis contributed $141,469 to nearly 50 nonprofit organizations and its employees volunteered nearly 450 hours. Unitus contributed $66,890 in cash donations and raised $49,609 for nonprofit partners while its employees volunteered 1,200 hours in 2012 mentoring students and more.
Other recent award recipients:
  • Chocolate Bayou Community FCU in Alvin, Texas, received a certificate of commendation from the school board in Alvin for its work against bullying and its financial reality fairs to teach money management to area students.  (Photo provided by the Cornerstone Credit Union League)
    Chocolate Bayou Community CU, Alvin, Texas, received a certificate of commendation from the Alvin ISD School Board, in honor of various partnerships with the district, said the Cornerstone Credit Union League (Leaguer Sept. 17). The credit union was a major sponsor of a program in local high schools that equips students and adults to combat bullying, isolation and despair. It also brought financial reality fairs to high schools under the REAL Solutions program.
  • Quachita Valley FCU West Monroe, La., was awarded the first "A+  Award" from Ouachita Parish School Board for its school supplies drive and its corporate Adopt-A-School sponsorship. It actively sponsors and supports all 36 schools in the parish.  It also has a "credit union at school" in many area schools. Over the past nine years it raised more than $47,000 and helped 3,600 underprivileged students with school supplies.
  • Michigan First CU, Lathrup Village, Mich., received the 2013 Michigan's Economic Bright Spots award from Corp! Magazine for its continued investment in improving service and electronic access, including adding remote deposit capture and expansion of its member services team. "As our credit union's name states, we put our state and our members at the top of our priority list," said Michigan First President/CEO Michael Poulos.
  • The Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation was recognized by Junior Achievement of Central Pennsylvania for sponsoring very Young Women's/Men's Futures Symposium JA has conducted for the past 10 years. Two PCUF volunteers who have taught JA programs in elementary schools for more than five years also were recognized (Life is a Highway July 26).
  • Andrews FCU, Suitland, Md., beat out a record number of nominations when it was named  South Jersey Biz Editor's Pick for Best Credit Union for its 2013 Best of Biz contest. Andrews added nearly 7,000 members in 2012 and more than doubled its loan portfolio, and released its SmartSuite of products (online banking, online bill pay, telephone banking and mobile banking) to make managing money easier, said the publication.
  • Columbia CU, Vancouver, Wash., received the Albina Fuel Game Changer Award by Vancouver's Downtown Association (VDA)  for funding high-impact, low-cost LED lighting downtown with ridgeline lighting on six downtown buildings, lighting for eight city trees on Sixth Street and spotlights for artwork on the corner of Evergreen and Main Streets. "Columbia's support has been a catalyst for making our downtown area safer and more inviting," said VDA.

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