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CU System

Ackerman, McFarland Win PCUA Lifetime Achievement Awards

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/6/13)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association announced the winners of its 2013 Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Dave Ackerman, CEO, USX FCU, Pittsburgh, was selected as the Outstanding Credit Union Professional of the Year. Dr. Ross McFarland, treasurer, Tri County Area FCU, Pottstown, was chosen as the Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer of the Year (Life is a Highway March 5).

Ackerman has been in the credit union movement for 25 years, and has served as CEO for 14 years. He is vice chairman on the board of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation and is chairman of the Grants Committee.

McFarland served for 34 years in several volunteer capacities for credit unions, and has been a treasurer for 18 years. He is on the board of the Montgomery County Chapter of Credit Unions for more than 20 years. He participated in the 1991 Operation Grassroots rally and the 1998 campaign for H.R. 1151, the Campaign for Consumer Choice.

The awards will be presented during the association's annual convention May 18 in Hershey.

A First: CUs' Contributions To Kids' Hospitals Top $10M

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SALT LAKE CITY (3/6/13)--Credit Unions for Kids, a collaborative effort in the credit union community that raises funds for local Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, raised a record $10.2 million in 2012.

The milestone represented a $1.5 million increase over 2011 when America's credit unions generated $8.7 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. This effort solidified credit unions' third-place ranking among corporate partners supporting the charity.

"We are immensely proud of our partnership with America's credit unions and congratulate them on their record-breaking year," said John Lauck, president/CEO of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. "Their performance speaks volumes about the character of those in the movement.  Given the challenges facing the industry, credit unions could have cut back on their fundraising but instead they increased their giving in 2012 by over 15%."

The Credit Unions for Kids campaign, which drew the support of about 3,000 credit unions, was highlighted by the CO-OP Financial Services Miracle Match program; two leave behind projects during the national political conventions at children's hospitals in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., and a sister project in Greenville, S.C.; Credit Union Miracle Day Inc. Family of Races; wine auction events in the Pacific Northwest and California; golf tournaments in Phoenix and Tampa; a statewide walk in Ohio; and Miracle Jeans Day.

The Credit Unions for Kids program was first launched in 1996 and since that time credit unions have raised $110 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

In 2013, credit unions will have three national campaigns to support their local children's hospital.  The Change A Child's Life coin drive, which kicked-off March 1 and concludes April 30, accept orders for kits through mid-April. The kits are free and can be ordered online. Use the link.

More CUs Preparing Members For Sequestration Issues: A Special Report

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MADISON, Wis. (3/6/13)--More credit unions are advising their members on how to mitigate the impact of sequestration on their financial well-being and offering special services to reduce the impact from the gap in income generated by government furloughs.

More than one million employees of the federal government, many of them members of credit unions, may receive furlough notices due to the budget cuts, which took effect Friday.

San Diego, Calif.-based Cabrillo CU said Friday it is rolling out a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) Sequestration Assistance Loan (SAL) for $2,500 to help supplement incomes of federal employees facing temporary furloughs or reduced hours as a result of the mandatory budget cuts.

"We've received numerous calls from members in the past week, worried about how the sequestration will affect them and their paychecks," said Robin Lentz, president/CEO of the $196 million asset credit union. "They've asked us if we could help, so we've developed this loan program in response to their needs," Lentz added.

According to Toby Hayes, Cabrillo's vice president of marketing, the credit union has members in "dozens of federal agencies. All of them have different payroll days and each federal agency is handling the temporary budget cuts differently, based on their operational needs. So our biggest challenge was developing a single way to help as many federal employees as possible, to provide some relief caused by the temporary reduction in their payroll."

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is offering consumers advice--which credit unions can pass along to members--about maintaining financial stability during sequestration.  Consumers should assess their current financial situation and evaluate four personal finance areas: budgeting and credit management, saving and investing, planning for retirement, and home equity. Credit unions have a variety of financial planning tools available from the Credit Union National Association. (Use the links.)

If the assessment finds problems, don't ignore them--especially in emergencies, NFCC said. "Take action sooner rather than later, as delaying only makes the problem harder to resolve," said NFCC.  Consumers can take control by reviewing their credit report and score, creating a cash-flow calendar listing all sources of income and dates bills are due, paying down debt and suspending uses of charge cards; and getting financial counseling.

Other credit unions announcing plans to assist members through the furloughs have similar plans:

  • Metro Atlanta-based Associated CU will offer 0% interest loans and certificates of deposits withdrawals with no penalty fees. Its Federal Employee Relief Loan is for the difference between the member's last direct-deposited paycheck and the sequester paychecks. The loan provides an interest-free money stream during the cuts. "Since 1930, our core membership base has been federal employees," said Associated CU President/CEO Lin Hodges. "We intend to stand shoulder to shoulder with our members if and when we are needed."
  • Excel FCU, Norcross, Ga., has short-term 0% interest loans, loan payment extensions, increased credit card limits, waiving of service fees and late fees, and modification of interest rates on consumer loans and mortgages. "We will evaluate each member's personal situation and their history with the credit union to determine which program or programs would help the most," said Bonnie Trappe, Excel FCU executive vice president.  "We realize these are uncertain times for some of our members. The credit union philosophy is all about helping people, and we're always seeking ways to serve our members.  In uncertain times, we want people to know they can count on us to be on their side."
  • Palmetto Trust FCU, Columbia, S.C., has a process similar to 1995 when Congress shut down the federal government, said CEO Lucile Beckwith. It offers a 30-day, 0% interest loan equal to the members' net pay if they direct deposit their paychecks, with a 30-day renewal available. "We are refinancing vehicle and personal loans to lower payments for our federal employee members who expect to be furloughed," she said, noting  that "they really need the lower payments to help them through the furlough period; and, as we tell them, with our simple interest loans, they can always pay more than the payment amount with no penalties."
  • JetStream FCU, Miami Lakes, Fla., whose core membership includes Federal Aviation Administration and other department branches, is offering a 60-day, 0% interest, no payment Furlough Relief Loan up to $2,000. Members can repay the balance at the end of 60 days or convert the loan to a 12-month signature loan with an 8.99% interest rate. "Assisting our members during this challenging period by providing them with financial options is our top priority," said CEO/President Jeanne Kucey.
  • NSWC FCU, Dahlgren, Va., offers penalty-free withdrawals from share certificates; reduced consumer loan payments for six months that require payment of interest only, which extends the term of the loan six months; skip a monthly payment for one month; and loans, workouts or restructuring of loans.
Another News Now story on sequestration,  "CUs To Furloughees: 'Be Assured, We've Got Your Back,'" was a featured link in a Washington Post story. See related story, "Wash. Post Spotlights News Now On Furloughs." This is a second article in that series.

Furloughs aren't the only time credit unions rally for members. Credit Union Magazine's story, "CUs Lend Members a Hand," addresses how "the worst of economic times tends to bring out the best in credit unions. The not-for-profit, cooperative business model was born in times of economic hardship. It still shines bright during dark days." To access the article use the link.

If you are doing anything special to help your members through the furloughs, e-mail your information to Uniteforgood@cuna.com, newsnow@cuna.coop, and asmarterchoice.org.

S Carolina CUs Kick Off Week Of Gas Giveaways

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FLORENCE, S.C. (3/6/13)--Cars began arriving at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday for the start of a week-long gas giveaway initiative sponsored by South Carolina credit unions.

On Tuesday, credit unions in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina gave $20 of free gas to the first 100 customers at the Breakers Food Mart in Florence. The gas giveaway is part of a Credit Unions of South Carolina program to spur others to do good deeds in the community.

The offer of free gas kicks off the second year of the Making a Difference campaign, referred to as MADTAG.

The campaign highlights the good deeds being done in the local community, and those who are making a difference.

One of the first vehicles in line stalled. The driver of the next car in line sacrificed his spot in line to give the stranger a jump start. "It really highlighted the whole theme of this event: That's showing the good deeds that happen every day in our community" said Robert Harris, CEO Health Facilities FCU, Florence, S.C.

The gas giveaways will continue throughout South Carolina this week, with an event scheduled in Charleston this morning and the Midlands on Thursday morning. Each event will offer the first 100 drivers in line a free fill-up with up to $20 worth of regular gasoline.

Gentile in CUInsight: CUNA's New 'Vision,' GAC Highlights

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WASHINGTON (3/6/13)--CUInsight Tuesday featured an extensive wrap-up of all the happenings at last week's Governmental Affairs Conference, as seen through the eyes of Credit Union National Association Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications and Engagement Paul Gentile.

This year's GAC "made headlines, caught the attention of official Washington, unveiled a new approach by the federal regulator, and opened the door to a first-time-ever "vision" for the movement to "unite for good," Gentile notes in the cuinsight.com piece.

Among the items highlighted by Gentile are:

  • CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney's call for credit unions to rally together and "Unite for Good" to help create a nation in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner";
  • National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz's announcement that the agency plans to modernize and revitalize its examination regime and allow credit unions to offer more innovative products and services;
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner's (R-Ohio) declaration that tax code reform will be the first item considered by the U.S. House this year;
  • House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling's (R-Texas) proclamation that he would not support taxing credit unions;
  • U.S. Rep. Maxine Walters' (D-Calif.) statement of support  for raising the member business lending (MBL) cap; and
  • U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (D-Calif.), author of the MBL bill, urging credit unions to share their MBL stories with Congress.

Other comments under the spotlight: U.S. Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) on allowing credit unions to accept additional forms of supplemental capital; Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) call for credit unions to support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and confirmation of its director, Richard Cordray, who also spoke at the GAC; and Former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bauchus (R-Ala.), who noted talks over a bill to replace CFPB's single director with a bipartisan commission.

"These highlights are just part of the story; so much more was discussed in the breakout sessions, hallways, receptions and intervals between sessions," Gentile noted. He suggested readers could find more GAC coverage in the pages of Credit Union Magazine.

CUNA has created a new members-only tax toolkit, which is designed to help credit unions connect with their members and educate the public and policymakers about the importance of the credit union tax status.

For the original CU Insight article, more on the GAC in Credit Union Magazine, and CUNA's Tax Toolkit, use the resource links.

HarborOne Members To Vote On Converting To Bank

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BROCKTON, Mass. (3/6/13)--Members of HarborOne CU in Brockton, Mass., will meet Monday at 5 p.m. EDT to vote on whether to convert to a bank.

The conversion, if approved, would take effect by the end of 2013 (News Now May 8).

The $1.9 billion asset credit union announced in March 2012 it planned to pursue conversion. It said that converting to a bank charter would allow it to expand its customer base into Boston; increase lending, especially with business loans; and raise more capital, such as through a stock sale. It also said it cannot open a branch in Boston because it is restricted to serving four counties in Southeastern Massachusetts.

The National Credit Union Administration has said that HarborOne could expand its geographic boundaries by petitioning the state. HarborOne is not near its member business lending cap and it could sell stock to raise capital, NCUA also said (News Now May 8).

A credit union charter is the best option for credit union members and any decision on converting should be in the members' best interest, the Credit Union National Association and the Massachusetts Credit Union League have said (News Now Feb. 17).

Wash Post Spotlights CUs, News Now On Furloughs

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WASHINGTON (3/6/13)--The Washington Post highlighted a recent News Now article in its own March 5 story on federal employees facing the threat of sequestration-caused furloughs. The News Now story featured how credit unions are stepping up to help with special assistance programs for members.

The Post article noted that federal employees holding security clearances, who run into financial trouble due to the furloughs, should notify their agency so the troubles don't muddle their clearance status. The article reminded that "indebtedness is one of the potential indicators of reliability, trustworthiness and judgment that go into a decision on granting or continuing security clearances, which are needed for many federal jobs."

The article also noted federal guidance that advises employees that many creditors are willing to work with borrowers in such situations.

"For example, the Credit Union National Association has said that many federal credit unions will offer special low-interest loans with flexible repayment terms and will allow existing loans to be extended, among other benefits for account holders who are furloughed," it said, and hyperlinked to the News Now article. (See resource link.) (Also see second article in the series in this issue, "More CUs Preparing Members For Sequestration Issues.")

News Now is CUNA's highly regarded daily online news service, which features comprehensive news coverage with a credit union audience in mind. Use the second link for a free subscription.

Michigan League Foundation Award Recipients Announced

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LANSING, Mich. (3/6/13)--The Michigan Credit Union League and the Michigan Credit Union Foundation announced their annual award recipients.

"2012 was another banner year for credit unions and these winners truly represent the best that the Michigan credit union community has to offer in terms of ideals, philosophy and service," said MCUL and Affiliates CEO David Adams. "The inspiring accomplishments of these hard-working, dedicated individuals and credit unions are clear reminders of the credit union difference in action."

The award winners are:

  • Credit Union Professional of the Year: Daniel Harp, vice president of lending, Dort FCU, Flint;
  • Outstanding Credit Union of the Year: United FCU, St, Joseph;
  • Distinguished Service Award: Catherine Roberts, president/CEO Research FCU, Warren;
  • Chapter Effectiveness Award: Metro West Chapter;
  • Young Professional of the Year: Kaye Chervenak, parish and education coordinator, Alliance Catholic CU, Troy;
  • Youth Advocate Award: Cindy Lardie, youth program coordinator, TBA CU, Traverse City;
  • Award for Excellence in Consumer Education: Jeremy Cybulski, youth coordinator, Co-op Services CU, Livonia;
  • MCUF Community Volunteer of the Year Award: Janice Rose, president/CEO, E&A CU, Port Huron; and
  • MCUF International Credit Union Development Award: Communicating Arts CU, Detroit.
The winners will be recognized at the Honors Awards Breakfast at the MCUL Annual Convention & Exposition, May 16-18 in Detroit.