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Mich. Maxwell, Herring, Desjardins Award Recipients Selected

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LANSING, Mich. (10/16/13)--The Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates has named the state-level winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility, Louise Herring Philosophy in Action and Alphonse Desjardins Financial Education awards (Michigan Monitor Oct. 14).
The Dora Maxwell Award winners by asset size are:
  • $20 million to $50 million, Communicating Arts CU, Detroit;
  • $50 million to $100 million, North Central Area CU, Houghton Lake;
  • $100 million to $200 million, Oakland County CU, Waterford;
  • $200 million to $500 million, Alpena Alcona Area CU, Alpena; and
  • $1 billion plus, Lake Trust CU, Brighton.
The Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Award winners are:
  • $50 million to $250 million, Public Service CU, Romulus;
  • $250 million to $1 billion, Michigan First CU, Lathrop Village; and
  • $1 billion plus, Michigan Schools and Government CU, Clinton Township.
The Alphonse Desjardins Award winners in the youth financial education category are:
  • $50 million to $150 million, Public Service CU;
  • $150 million to $500 million, CASE CU, Lansing; and
  • $500 million plus, Michigan Schools and Government CU.
The Alphonse Desjardins Award winners in the adult financial education category are:
  • $150 million to $500 million, University of Michigan CU, Ann Arbor; and
  • $500 million plus, Michigan First CU.
The winners will be honored at MCUL & Affiliates' annual convention.

Recognized for community service, service to members and non-members, and financial education, the award recipients also will compete for the same awards on the national level. National winners will be announced by the Credit Union National Association this fall, and will be invited to attend the 2014 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

CU System Briefs (10/16/2013)

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  • SAGINAW, Mich. (10/16/13)--Latchie Washington-Chesney, a member of Wildfire CU's board of directors, died on Aug.23, the Michigan Credit Union League has learned (Michigan Monitor Oct. 14). Washington-Chesney had been a member of Wildfire for more than four decades, and had served on its board of directors for more than three. She worked in telecommunications for almost 40 years, before retiring eight years ago. Washington-Chesney also served on the board of directors for the Information Technologies Credit Union Association. Wildfire CU, based in Saginaw, Mich. has $686 million in assets ...
  • ANN ARBOR, Mich. (10/16/13)--The University of Michigan CU presented $342,000 to benefit the school's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and its Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital. The gift will be used to support a bronze fossil floor art installation (see photo) in the main entrance of the children's hospital--a mother-of-pearl and shell inlay by Michele Oka Doner--and a mobile application and educational activity book designed for Mott's patients and their families. UMCU is based in Ann Arbor and has more than $500 million in assets. The University of Michigan Medical School was founded in 1850. The University of Michigan Health System opened Mott and Von Voigtlander hospitals in December 2011 (Photo provided by University of Michigan CU) ...
  • GREENSBORO, N.C. (10/16/13)--More than 1,100 of Raleigh, N.C., -based State Employees' CU members attended the cooperative's annual membership meeting on Oct 9. Members were treated to a volunteer luncheon, a guest speaker and educational sessions--including topics such as technology and financial advisory services--at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C. SECU has $26.7 billion in assets and 1.8 million members. It serves public employees in North Carolina and is based in Raleigh. (Photo provided by State Employees' CU) ...

CU Branches Closed By Shutdown Still Helping Members

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/13)--While Congress struggles to get past the government shutdown impasse, credit unions are showing a can-do attitude--even when some credit union branches themselves are closed because of government building closures. They are still serving their members.
Not only has Norcross, Ga.-based Excel FCU, which serves primarily government employees, seen its members affected by the shutdown, but its branch in the Atlanta Federal Center in Atlanta has been closed by the government standstill, said the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.
The credit union is offering a short-term, interest-free loan to members to make up the difference in a reduced or missed paycheck.  It can be converted to an 11-month loan with interest.
The campus locations of Atlanta-based CDC FCU also are closed, and members are being directed to its Northlake branch and to Internet and phone services, plus its deposit-friendly image-enabled ATMs, said GCUA.  Members whose paychecks are impacted by the shutdown will have their fee waived if they take a "skip-a-pay" option.  Those with direct deposit are also prequalified for loans equal to their last deposit.
Associated CU, also based in Norcross, is offering a $750 loan with deferred interest and payments for eligible members, and has identified 7,000 members who are eligible to apply for its furlough assistance.  During the first week of the shutdown, Associated CU processed $76,500 in program loans, with 50 loans processed in one day.
"We're committed to our members and make our decisions based on their best interests," said Chadwick Evans, assistant vice president of consumer lending at Associated CU.  "Our members count on us to have their backs, so creating an interest-free loan only made sense. This loan has alleviated a tremendous amount of stress during this uncertain time," Evans added.
Other Georgia credit unions offering assistance include TIC FCU in Columbus, which has an interest-free loan for federal employees; GeoVista FCU, Hinesville, which provides penalty-free withdrawals on certificates, extensions and interest-only payments on certain loans, with the possibility of interest-free notes with rollover options; and Robins FCU, Warner Robins, which provides loan extensions, skip-a-pay options and expedited approval on credit cards and lines of credit.
Credit unions in Maine have expanded their efforts to help furloughed members.  "Maine credit unions have a long history of stepping up to help people during difficult times, so it is great to see credit unions doing so again for members impacted by the federal shutdown," said Maine Credit Union League President John Murphy. 
Two examples:  In Portland,, cPort CU has about 1,200 members who are federal employees and is offering skip-a-payment options; an interest-free, three-month loan extension; a 30-day interest-free loan for the amount of a missed paycheck; and penalty-free early withdrawals on certificates. Town and Country FCU, South Portland, introduced a Furloughed Workers Relief Loan of up to $5,000 with a 12-month repayment at 2% annual percentage rate.
US FCU in Burnsville, Minn., is offering both aid and education to those hit by shutdown paycheck woes.  It is rolling out new programs and reminding the community of existing services.  Borrower Resources is provided by USFCU's Asset Protection Department and has tools to help members through times of financial strain. Tools include loan consolidation, loan payment relief and loan restructuring.
It also offers a signature loan program to get money in the member's account fast. It requires no collateral. Members can borrow small amounts at a short-term and defer the first payment for up to 90 days. USFCU also offers penalty-free share certificate withdrawals and provides free, one-to-one financial counseling through Lutheran Social Service.
If the shutdown persists, the credit union is directing members to its website for seminars hosted by the credit union and Lutheran Social Service. The "Surviving the Shutdown" education program is free.
"Our purpose is to serve the needs of the community in good times and bad," said Bill Raker, USFCU president/CEO. The credit union promises service, value and experience members can trust. "In a time of need, that philosophy is more relevant than ever."

(See related News Now story, CUNA Highlights CUs' Furlough Efforts For Federal Lawmakers.)

Michigan CUs Support Local Businesses In 'Cash Mobs'

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LANSING, Mich. (10/16/13)--Dozens of Michigan credit unions handed out cash at local businesses yesterday to encourage Main Street shopping and to raise awareness about the community focus of credit unions.
 Employees from more than 60 credit unions participated in the so-called CU Lunch Local "cash mob," surprising restaurant-goers by paying for their meals and store employees by buying them gifts. 
State credit unions also participated by committing to buy local supplies for their offices, and by partnering with local restaurants to offer discounts to credit union members(Michigan Monitor Oct. 14)
"Michigan credit unions are first and foremost rooted in their communities, and CU Lunch Local is a way for us to demonstrate that," said Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates CEO David Adams. "Our credit unions support small businesses in so many ways, including business lending that is helping to create jobs and help move the state's economy forward. CU Lunch Local is an opportunity to show everyone just how big the credit union commitment to small business really is."
CU Lunch Local was started in 2012 by Michigan Business Connection, a credit union service organization  that is supported by MCUL & Affiliates and focuses on commercial lending.

Research has shown that money spent locally is more likely to circulate in the community than money spent at national and global chains, said the league.

"As a commercial lending CUSO helping Michigan credit unions make and manage loans, we see first-hand the tremendous impact our credit unions have in their communities," said MBC CEO Bill Beardsley. "CU Lunch Local helps highlight the credit union difference in a fun and meaningful way."

Matz To Amplify Attendees: Job Is To Help CUs Move Forward

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PORTLAND, Ore. (10/16/13)--The National Credit Union Administration's job is to help credit unions move forward, chairman Debbie Matz said in her keynote address at the Northwest Credit Union Association's Amplify Convention in Portland, Ore., last week.
The agency has taken significant steps to reduce the regulatory burden for credit unions, she said.
Matz, who kicked off the convention, said that she understands credit union concerns over rules and regulations. The NCUA is working hard on "getting to yes" rather than saying no "simply because we've always said no'" (Anthem Recap Oct. 11).
That's why the NCUA seeks to make sure that the regulations it does create are effective, minimally burdensome and have no unintended consequences, she said.
But she said there would never be a point when credit unions felt that a burden did not exist, and the "healthy tension" between credit unions and the agency will always exist.
The NCUA will continue the Regulatory Modernization Initiative she started in 2011, Matz said, to look for ways to streamline some regulations and make others more understandable and easier to follow.
Among the concerns she cited was interest-rate risk. She urged credit unions to develop policies to address long-term, low-interest loans on their books and rate sensitivities in their deposits. If rates go up precipitously, she said, many credit unions without a plan "will not survive."
Matz also cited other risks credit unions must monitor, including:
  • Third-party risks: Credit unions gain economies of scale from working with third-party vendors and credit union service organizations, but those relationships are not without risk and the NCUA is now looking at creating a CUSO registry. "Trust, but verify," Matz said.
  • Cyber-security risks: Credit unions need to perform risk assessments, establish incident response programs and build in mitigation processes to address cyber-security threats, Matz said. 
  • Off-balance-sheet risks: Executive benefits and pension plans are higher-risk, non-compliant investments and credit unions need to make sure they are not taking on more than they can afford.
Also at the convention, NWCUA President/CEO Troy Stang shared his vision for the future of Northwest credit unions during the association's annual business meeting.
Stang described a marketplace in which credit unions are so relevant to consumers that they have "at least a majority share" of the financial services market. He measured that market share in terms of members, assets, loans and deposits, and community impact.
To help create that world, Stang said, the NWCUA will focus on three areas in 2014: policy advancement through effective advocacy; public awareness of the structure, value and impact of credit unions; and collective action by credit unions to build trusted communities, control competitive costs and broaden their sphere of influence.
The common thread in all three areas is making sure that lawmakers, regulators and the general public understand that credit unions are not just a part of the fabric of their communities, but the heartbeat, he said.

CU Rock Star Dick Ensweiler: Once a Coach, Always a Coach

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/13)--Dick Ensweiler set off for college to become a basketball coach, but got sidetracked. After taking a summer job at State Central CU in Milwaukee, Wis., he was hooked on credit unions.

Credit Union Magazine is celebrating the credit union movement's rock stars--those ordinary people who manage to pull off the extraordinary--in honor of International Credit Union Day, which is Thursday.
This is the second of five credit union rock stars News Now will highlight this week.
"The treasurer/manager and I hit it off well to the extent that he promised me a position when I got out of college and the military," Ensweiler said. "I took him up on it and he created a first-ever management training program. It paid off, and 18 months later I became the treasurer/manager of the Harley Davidson CU."
It's almost 50 years later and, in a way, the Cornerstone Credit Union League CEO did become a coach--employing traits such as consensus-building, perseverance and adaptability in the face of difficult circumstances.
The most recent of the many credit union milestones he's experienced is the merger of the Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas credit union leagues.
"Leagues were facing shrinking numbers and finding it more difficult to provide full services," Ensweiler said. "We saw value in a larger organization with broader reach. It took four years to get through all the questions, answers, and considerations, but once interested parties remained at the table, it took less than a year to come to an agreement. The merger is everything we hoped it would be. We're more relevant now than before. With 650 credit unions, we have a bigger voice with potential partners, vendors, regulators, and national associations."
Ensweiler also came to credit unions' aid in 1974 when disintermediation caused savings rates to skyrocket from 6% to 22%. "Credit unions could not meet members' withdrawal requests and I was appointed to a task force of league presidents to find a solution," he said. "We proposed to the Credit Union National Association a new financial and support system--and created the corporate credit union network."
Honoring credit union rock stars is just one way credit unions and more than 196 million credit union members in 100 countries are preparing to "unite for good" with activities to celebrate the credit union difference and demonstrate the value of credit unions on ICU Day.
This year's theme, "Credit Unions Unite for Good," builds on the Credit Union National Association's Unite for Good campaign, which has rallied credit unions to work to remove barriers, create awareness of the good credit unions do for members and their communities, and foster service excellence to encourage Americans to choose credit unions as their best financial partner.

Court Dismisses Church Suit Vs. NCUA Over Croatian CU Claims

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (10/16/13)--A federal judge in Cleveland has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a church claiming it was owed deposit insurance payments on $1.5 million it lost when the National Credit Union Administration placed St. Paul Croatian FCU into conservatorship in 2010.

The church, Holy Love Ministries of North Ridgeville, had two accounts totaling $1.7 million in the East Lake, Ohio-based credit union when it was placed into involuntary liquidation on April 20, 2010.

The two accounts, an operating account and a building account, were set up by Joseph Plavac, an officer of the church. Plavac was also a member of the credit union's board and a former CEO of St. Paul, the opinion document said. The two accounts had multiple members designated as signers on each account, and the church alleged it had structured the accounts so each individual would be entitled to $250,000.
Although the church collected $250,000 in claims, its suit maintained that NCUA's Asset Management and Assistance Center, which acted as liquidating agent, should provide $250,000 per signer of the accounts, or at least provide $250,000 for the second account.
In the memorandum opinion filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Judge Donald C. Nugent wrote that "under the Administrative Procedures Act, the NCUA Board's final determination as to insurance coverage on Holy Love's accounts was supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or contrary to law."
He noted that "the accounts of a corporation, partnership, or unincorporated association engaged in any independent activity are insured up to $250,000 in the aggregate" and that the account records of the insured credit union "shall be conclusive as to the existence of any relationship pursuant to which funds in the account are deposited and on which a claim for insurance coverage is founded."
He noted that "St. Paul's records reflect Holy Love's accounts were accounts of a corporation, partnership, or unincorporated association engaged in an independent activity.

The liquidating agent and the NCUA Board relied on the records of St. Paul at the time of liquidation in determining Holy Love's insurance coverage." Holy Love's remaining claims are beyond the scope of the court  and are "dismissed without prejudice," he wrote.
The credit union's CEO, Anthony Raguz, is serving a 14-year prison term for accepting bribes, kickbacks and gifts in exchange for loans.  He allegedly issued more than 1,000 fraudulent loans totaling more than $70 million to about 300 accountholders and accepted more than $1 million in bribes (News Now Nov. 27).  Nearly two dozen people have been arrested and several have received prison terms related to the frauds.

The collapse of St. Paul Croatian FCU was one of the most costly in credit union history, costing the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund more than $170 million.

Best of Northwest CU Movement Receive Awards

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PORTLAND, Ore. (10/16/13)--The Northwest Credit Union Association handed out 35 awards at its annual gala last week.

The Summit Awards ceremony was held on Oct. 9, at the end of NWCUA's Amplify Convention for member credit unions in Oregon and Washington.

Top award winners included:
  • Jill Nowacki, vice president of development at Maps CU in Salem, Ore., who was named the Young Credit Union Professional of the Year for her marketing and advocacy efforts.
  • Rick Hein, CEO of Oregon State University FCU in Corvallis, Ore., who was given the Innovation and Impact award for implementing a program that matched staff political fund contributions with a gift to Credit Unions for Kids.
  • Rick Brandsma, CEO of Sound CU in Tacoma, Wash., who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, for having overseen 14 successful mergers at his credit union, which opened 21 branches and accumulated more than $1 billion in assets under his guidance.
There were also eight other state-level awards presented that automatically qualified recipients for a national competition sponsored by the Credit Union National Association. Maps CU, Salem, Ore., and Solarity CU, Yakima, Wash., received first place Desjardins youth and adult financial education awards, respectively.

NWCUA Elects Board, Officers

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PORTLAND, Ore. (10/16/13)--The Northwest Credit Union Association named three new members to its board of directors at its annual convention last week (Anthem Recap Oct. 11).

The members--Mina Worthington of Solarity CU, Yakima, Wash.; Brooke Van Vleet of St. Helens (Ore.) FCU; and Parker Cann of Boeing Employees CU (BECU), Tukwila, Wash.--were chosen in a meeting that also saw Debie Keesee of Spokane (Wash.) Media FCU re-elected as board chair.

  • Bob Newcomb from SELCO Community CU, Eugene, Ore., in District 1;
  • Jack Fallis from Global CU, Spokane, in District 2;
  • Tom Griffith from Pacific NW FCU, Portland, Ore., in District 5;
  • Phil Jones from Harborstone CU, Lakewood, Wash., in District 6;
  • Bert Fisher from Our Community CU, Shelton, Wash., in District 7;
  • Terry Belco from North Coast CU, Bellingham, Wash., in District 8; and
  • Shirley Cate from Providence FCU, Portland, who represents medium-sized credit unions.
Worthington, Van Vleet and Cann will represent Districts 3, 4 and large-sized credit unions respectively.

In addition to Keesee as chair, board officers include: Fallis as vice chair; Jones as treasurer; and Cates as secretary.

The election took place during the NWCUA annual Amplify Convention in Portland.

Tomorrow's ICU Day Will Connect With Social Media

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MADISON, Wis. (10/16/13)--The Credit Union National Association is urging credit unions to emphasize their International Credit Union Day celebrations tomorrow with a hashtag and share their stories on social media.
CUNA seeks photos videos or stories about ICU celebrations, especially those that illustrate the credit union difference. Credit Union Magazine will compile the images and stories to provide a snapshot of the credit union world on ICU Day.
This year's theme, "Credit Unions Unite for Good," builds on CUNA's Unite for Good campaign, which has united credit unions to work to remove barriers, create awareness of the good credit unions do for members and their communities, and foster service excellence to encourage Americans to choose credit unions as their best financial partner.
"The banking industry claims there is no difference between credit unions and banks," said Joanne Sepich, CUNA ICU Day coordinator. "Sharing our story with #ICUday is an opportunity to demonstrate our difference. October 17 is our day. Let's own it by sharing our stories with #ICUDay."
Among the ways credit unions can participate:
  • Twitter. Tweet using the hashtag #ICUday. Credit unions can use up to 140 characters to describe their ICU Day celebrations and include a picture. Credit unions can follow @cumagazine for updates.
  • Facebook. Credit unions can post their activities on the official ICU Day page at
  • E-mail. Take a picture and send it to with a brief description. Put "ICU Day" in the subject heading.
  • Credit unions also can post on CUNA's Google+ page (use the link), use Instagram, send links to their Flickr or Picasa pages, or send links to videos on YouTube or Vimeo.
Among the ways credit unions and leagues are celebrating ICU Day:
  • Shell FCU, Deer Park, Texas, has created a short YouTube video asking, "Guess what day it is?" The video features a young man walking around the credit union asking, "Guess what day it is?" Finally, to the young man's delight, a woman named Kara tells him it's International Credit Union Day. Use the link.
  • For the second year in a row, credit unions from the Houston and Galveston, Texas, chapters of the Cornerstone Credit Union League are using the campaign theme, "Banks make dollars, not sense," to celebrate ICU Day. This year's campaign includes a mix of social and traditional media. Billboards, T-shirts, Web and print ads will be used with Facebook and Twitter to drive consumers to the website, where they can learn more about the credit union difference and find a local credit union to join.
  • "The celebration of International Credit Union Week comes at a time when credit union growth in Maine continues to reach new milestones," said John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League (Weekly Update Oct. 11). Murphy cited this year's "Unite for Good" theme as an opportunity to "underscore and reinforce the value and benefits that come when credit unions cooperate and come together."
  • NAPUS FCU, Alexandria, Va., will celebrate ICU Day with a two-week sale on signature and auto loans. It will offer 0.5% discount on standard rates on signature loans. Members and nonmembers who have financed their car at other financial institutions can call the credit union to find get lower rates.
  • On Thursday, students from Murrell Dobbins CTE High School in Philadelphia will learn real-life lessons in budgeting and the cost of living as Freedom CU, in association with the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, presents Philadelphia's first "Reality Fair."
  • Michigan credit unions and ICU Day were featured in an Oct. 9 article in the Sterling Heights Sentry. While not every state resident is eligible to join every credit union, there is a credit union for everyone in Michigan, Mona Shand, Michigan Credit Union League public relations manager, told the paper.  Peoples Trust CU, Southfield, and Cornerstone Community Financial CU, Auburn Hills, were also featured in the article.
  • Credit Unions United for a Cause--credit unions in Indiana's Delaware County--will celebrate ICU Day with a day of kindness. Ball State FCU, First County FCU, Industrial Centre FCU, and PrimeTrust FCU, all of Muncie, will send out "kindness crews" to perform random acts of kindness. The crews will buy coffee, pay for lunches, serve donuts and bag groceries (even supplying the bags) for local residents to celebrate ICU Day.
  • In Dublin, Ireland, Swords & District CU will feature a "Hands of Declaration" display, offering members a chance to trace their hands and write the reasons why they are credit union members in return for a chance to win a flat-screen TV.
ICU Day has been celebrated on the third Thursday of October since 1948. The day is recognized to reflect upon the credit union movement's history and to promote its achievements. It is a day to honor those who have dedicated their lives to the movement, recognize the hard work of those working in the credit union industry and show members their appreciation. The ultimate goal is to raise awareness about the great work that credit unions are doing around the world and give members and non-members the opportunity to get more involved.