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CU System briefs (08/30/2010)

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* SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. (8/31/10)--Numerica CU, based in Spokane Valley, Wash., has reached the $1 billion in assets milestone, CEO Dennis Cutter announced in a video conference with staff Friday. He attributed the milestone to a merger with School Employees FCU of Richland, Wash., and to positive growth in this year's first two quarters. Cutter praised staff: "Your dedication to our members and your determination to offer financial help to all people in all walks of life have made Numerica what it is today--a positive contributor to Eastern Washington's and North Idaho's economy. Numerica has more than 85,000 members ... * WASHINGTON (8/31/10)--Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association's (MDDCCUA) board has conferred "Friend of Credit Union" status to Washington, D.C. City Council Chairman Vincent Gray, who is running for the D.C. mayor seat. Gray provided strong support for a curriculum requirement for financial literacy education for D.C. public school students, MDDCCUA said. While meeting with the association, Gray said he would work with the D.C. State Board of Education to develop a course and described his vision for working with credit unions and others to develop financial literacy in all levels of the city's public schools. Gray supports incorporating parents into the lessons as well. Gray also envisions continuing to grow the district's business culture. Gray's "past support for raising the small business tax exemption from $50,000 to $225,000 shows his commitment to the small business of this city, and his understanding of how vital small businesses are to D.C.'s economy," said MDDCCUA President/CEO Mike Beall. Gray plans to make D.C. a global financial center. This type of pro-business thinking will bring more jobs and investment to the district, said MDDCCUA ... * ROANOKE, Va. (8/31/10)--Dick Williams, former CEO of the $355 million asset, Roanoke-based Member One FCU (formerly Norfolk & Western CU), died Thursday after a long illness with cancer. He was 70. He was hired in 1972 as the first president/CEO of Norfolk & Western CU, a position he held for more than 35 years until his retirement in 2008. During his tenure the credit union assets grew from $2.8 million to $335 million, and staff grew to more than 180 employees in a dozen branches. He served as president of the Credit Union Executives Society Virginia Council; as president of the Roanoke Valley Chapter of Credit Unions; as charter member of the Virginia Credit Union League Financial Literacy Council; and as charter member and treasurer of Roanoke Consumer Counseling Service. His credit union career began when he was hired by the league, first as a statewide field representative, then as education director and as director of Virginia Credit Union Services Inc. (Roanoke Times & World News Aug. 29) ... * SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (8/31/10)--Rose M. Benkovic, former manager of Upstate Telco FCU, a $5 million asset credit union based in Gloversville, N.Y., died Friday at a hospital in Amsterdam, N.Y. She was 77. Benkovic was manager of the credit union for 40 years until her retirement. She is survived by two sisters, four nieces, and many great nieces, nephews and cousins. Funeral services are today at 2 p.m., with visitation from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Barter & Donnan Funeral Home, Johnstown (The Daily Gazette Aug. 29) ...

How Katrina changed staffers life Second in a series

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MADISON, Wis. (8/31/10)--For people who lost their homes and their jobs in Hurricane Katrina, there are still moments--five years later--when the loss threatens to overwhelm. But then, they pick themselves up and get on with their new lives, grateful for what they have. "I can't watch it," Cheryl Oggs, vice president of the Mississippi Credit Union Association (MSCUA), said of the news coverage of Katrina's five-year anniversary Sunday. "It brings so many memories back." Oggs is a transplant from New Orleans, where she had served as executive vice president of the Louisiana Credit Union League at the time Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005, and the levee broke. She lost her home in St. Bernard's Parish and most of her possessions to 10-12 feet of water. Her elderly neighbors died in the flood. She and her husband lived for four months in a repossessed camper provided by a Georgia credit union. Oggs commuted to the league's temporary office in Baton Rouge, a much longer commute. In 2006, she and her husband moved to North Port, Fla., where they bought a home. When News Now talked with her then, she had gone into real estate and was excited to sell her first house. Monday News Now caught up with her again for an update. "I sold a few houses, and then a bad turn of luck hit," she said. The housing market took a turn for the worse and began its long dive. She tried to get a job with a credit union, but the area credit unions were small branches of larger Tampa and Orlando credit unions with no openings. She ended up with two offers: one to run a bank branch, and one to run a cardiology office. "I didn't want to work for a bank," so she took the cardiology office job. "When your life has been turned topsy turvy, you don't know what you're doing. I was lost as a person," Oggs told News Now. "Everything around me that made me feel secure, with a support system, was gone. You put your feet on the foundation and you go on, but it's not overnight--and there are still moments." "I wish someone had told me not to make a decision for a while. People are not able to make good decisions with that sense of urgency. No one told me to 'take your time to regroup,'" she said. She made poor buying choices--"I bought a purple leather sofa," she laughed. "What got into me?" She said that was typical of many of the people in the same circumstances. Oggs' son and his family moved back to New Orleans and were too far away, and her friends were spread in Baton Rouge and Mississippi. "I was missing credit unions. Work wasn't fun anymore. Work didn't have that warm and fuzzy credit union feel. I was miserable." She called a friend at the MSCUA and asked her to be on the alert for any credit-union related jobs. "Ten minutes later, Charlie (Charles Elliott, president of MSCUA) called and said, 'Come talk to us.'" Elliott hired her as vice president. She is responsible for compliance training, shared branch training, the association's new cooperative advertising program, the Young and Free program, and vendor relationships. Her husband is working on a captain's license so he can work offshore. Jackson, where MSCUA is located, is three hours from the coast. "I'm at the first stop people come to when they're evacuating from a hurricane. When Gustav came through, I had a lot of family in the house." She can't go back to New Orleans. "When I go there, I feel a dark cloud over everything. I feel fortunate here. You never know where God is going to direct you. I've found a safe, quiet place to heal, and people here are great." She expressed appreciation for those who reached out. One woman from SouthWest Corporate FCU, whom she has never met, checked up on her regularly. She sent Oggs an antique fleur-de-lis pin to remind her of New Orleans. "I cried like a baby." "Credit unions really are a life saver," Oggs added. "It's hard to explain. You don't appreciate credit unions until you go away from them. They're like family, and that's the case from sea to sea."

Georgia CU Affiliates names Maxwell Desjardins awards

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DULUTH, Ga. (8/31/10)--Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) has named its Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award winners and Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award winners. The 2010 state winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award are:
* Hutcheson FCU, Ft. Oglethorpe; * 1st Choice CU, Atlanta; * Credit Union of Atlanta, and * Robins FCU, Warner Robins.
DOCO Regional FCU, Albany, was awarded the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award. The credit union’s outreach programs included a food drive, financial literacy, increasing employment and asset-building, and revitalizing small businesses. State winners will be acknowledged in May at the GCUA Annual Convention.

CU IDA account yields home for man daughter

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (8/31/10)--Adam Shepherd and his 4-year-old daughter, Sarah, will move into their own home this week after Shepherd saved enough money for a downpayment through a Dupaco Community CU Individual Development Account (IDA) and a three-for-one matching grant from the Iowa Credit Union Foundation.
Click to view larger image Adam Shepherd, 33, will move into his own home this week after he saved enough money for a downpayment through a Dupaco Community CU Individual Development Account and a three-for-one matching grant from the Iowa Credit Union Foundation. (Photo provided by Dupaco Community CU)
With the help of Dupaco Money Makeover coach Paula Ervolino, Shepherd saved $2,000 during a seven-month period beginning in November. The fund matched $3 for every $1 Shepherd saved. The combined $8,000 was enough for a downpayment on a home. Dupaco also provided Shepherd a mortgage loan to finalize the purchase. Through Dupaco’s program, participants’ savings are matched by a grant from another organization. Dupaco opens the savings accounts and provides the required financial education to help ensure the participant’s goals are met. The funds are matched by the foundation through private grants. Participants must meet income guidelines and be residents of or purchase assets in Iowa to qualify for a Dupaco IDA account. Individuals can use the funds to purchase an asset such as a home, start or expand a small business, pay for education or job training, or purchase a vehicle to get to work. Dupaco has four other members enrolled in the program. Others are waitlisted until more match funding becomes available. Shepherd, 33, works two full-time jobs and rents an apartment. He credited Dupaco with showing him how to effectively budget. “I knew I was making money,” Shepherd said. “But I didn’t know where it was going until I started using the program’s savings diary. “I went from a credit zero to credit maybe,” he added. “The IDA program helped me clean up unnecessary debt and taught me the power of systematic saving.” Shepherd said the home is a “wonderful” space for his daughter. Also, “the home has a great potential to help build my net worth,” he said. Financial education was key to Shepherd’s savings success. He credited Dupaco’s Ervolino with keeping him on track. Ervolino said Shepherd was successful because he stayed focused. “Adam completed his workbook of lessons early in the program and stayed on top of his financial education requirements,” Ervolino said. “So when the time came to purchase his home, there was nothing standing in his way.” Based in Dubuque, Iowa, Dupaco has $778 million in assets.

Mid-America CU Association announces state awards

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BISMARCK, N.D. (8/31/10)--The Mid-America Credit Union Association announced award winners in South Dakota for the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award, and in North Dakota for the Maxwell Award, the Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action and the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award. South Dakota credit unions that were first-place winners for the Maxwell award are:
* Service First FCU, Sioux Falls, $100 million to $200 million is assets; * Dakota Plains FCU, Lemmon, $20 million to $50 million; * Sioux Empire FCU, Sioux Falls, less than $5 million; and * Sioux Valley Chapter of Credit Unions, Credit Union Chapter Entry.
North Dakota first-place winners for the Maxwell award are:
* Town & Country CU, Minot, $200 million to $500 million in assets; * Citizens Community CU, Devils Lake, $100 million to $200 million; * Dakota Plains CU, Edgeley, $20 million to $50 million; and * Postal Family FCU, Fargo, $5 million to $20 million.
First-place winners in North Dakota’s Herring award competition are:
* Capital CU, Bismarck, $250 million or more; * Citizens Community CU, $50 million to $250 million; and * Dakota Plains CU, less than $50 million.
North Dakota Desjardins first-place winners are:
* Capital CU, $150 million to $500 million; * Citizens Community CU, $50 million to $150 million; and * Dakota Plains CU, less than $50 million.

WOCCU to G-20 CUs need access to economic infrastructure

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MADISON, Wis. (8/31/10)--Financial inclusion initiatives by the Group of 20 (G-20) nations would strongly benefit from the involvement of credit unions, especially in terms of their outreach capabilities to the poor, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) told the G-20’s Access Through Integration Sub-Group (ATISG) in a recent letter. However, appropriate political pressure must be applied to make various countries’ financial infrastructures available to prudentially supervised financial cooperatives for credit unions to effectively serve the global poor, WOCCU said. WOCCU sent its comments to ATISG committee co-chairs Paul Flanagan, general manager of international finance for the Australian Treasury, and Rodrigo Pereira Porto of the Central Bank of Brazil. The letter, a follow-up to WOCCU’s participation in ATISG’s July 13 meeting in Rio de Janeiro, reaffirmed credit unions’ role in helping the G-20 accomplish its financial inclusion goals. “Although WOCCU is supportive of the ATISG’s Principles for Innovative Financial Inclusion, we believe there are multiple areas in which the G-20’s efforts could complement the work of credit unions in the private sector,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services. WOCCU identified areas in which credit unions could assist in the G-20’s financial inclusion efforts:
* Credit unions could be more effective in serving marginalized and remote consumers if they were given greater access to countries’ financial infrastructures. Although credit unions already work under prudential oversight and can accept savings deposits, they often are excluded from direct access to deposit insurance, securitization markets, payment and settlement systems, card networks, credit bureaus and central bank liquidity resources. WOCCU recommended that the G-20 encourage standards-setting bodies worldwide to allow non bank financial institutions access to these critical components of the financial infrastructure. * Innovative credit unions, especially in Mexico and Brazil, have reached the rural poor through technological alternatives that take credit union services to members’ doors or use multiple delivery channels to assure access to services. Providing credit unions access to sufficient resources will further increase access to services and promote the G-20’s financial inclusion goals, WOCCU said.
WOCCU’s letter also described the global trade association’s efforts to build credit union supervisory capacity through its support of the International Credit Union Regulators Network (ICURN), a four-year-old organization of international regulators from 19 agencies with statutory responsibility for the countries they represent. ICURN held its most recent meeting at The 1 Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas in July, attracting 30 representatives from six continents. The letter also mentioned the United Nations’ designation of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives as a potential platform for providing additional stimulus for credit unions’ inclusion by the G-20 in support of its economic goals. “We believe the G-20’s financial inclusion efforts can best complement the private sector efforts of credit unions by keeping up the political pressure to open up the financial infrastructure to prudentially supervised and pro-poor institutions,” Grace wrote.

CUNA Mutual Filene to boost Irish CUs future

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DUBLIN, Ireland (8/31/10)--Facing some of the most difficult challenges since their founding, Irish credit unions gathered in Dublin Thursday to take the pulse of their industry and learn from the successes and mistakes credit unions elsewhere have experienced in challenging economies.
Click to view larger image Paul Walsh, CEO, CUNA Mutual, Europe; Trisha Bulman, Swords & District CU, Dublin; and Mark Meyer, CEO of Filene Research Institute, chat outside the Dublin meeting hall where credit union managers, directors and regulators discussed the future of Irish credit unions last week. The Future of Finance one-day conference was hosted by CUNA Mutual Group. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
CUNA Mutual Group hosted 50 managers and directors at a daylong conference in hopes of helping Irish credit unions endure a faltering economy and capitalize on opportunities. The event unveiled results of a pre-conference survey and revealed best practices learned by other credit union systems around the world. Other industry stakeholders attending were the credit union regulator, legislators and trade organization representatives. “Irish credit unions are facing the most significant challenges since their foundation,” said Paul Walsh, CEO, CUNA Mutual’s European division. “The economic climate in which they operate has collapsed. The ‘Future of Finance’ conference provides our industry leaders with a unique window of knowledge to other systems through Filene Research Institute and insight as to what their global colleagues are thinking on the credit union industry’s more pressing issues.” The survey, distributed by CUNA Mutual prior to the conference, was designed to prompt discussion among credit union leaders at Thursday’s event. Nearly 40 credit unions with an average 57% loan-to-deposit ratio and representing 654,000 members and $4 billion in assets responded to the survey. Survey results showed:
* The credit unions’ predominant financial strategy is “conservative lending”; * There is strong support for greater cooperation among credit unions and possible mergers; * There is total agreement the credit union sector is very important to Irish consumers, and a strong concurrence that governance and regulatory reform was, in itself, a good thing; * Respondents see difficulties with recruiting new volunteers and directors for future stewardship of the Irish sector; * About 90% said they are optimistic they have a future as a financial services provider; * More than 95% said the sector needs to be seen “in public” as having a coordinated view; * More than 90% said the image of credit unions must change to attract new members.
Ratings agency Moody’s downgraded the Ireland’s sovereign bond rating to Aa2 from Aa1 in July. The ratings agency said the move had been driven by the government’s gradual but significant loss of financial strength (BBC News July 19). Walsh and Mark Meyer, CEO of Filene Research Institute, implored Irish credit union leaders to be innovative and take advantage of opportunities that other credit union sectors have in defining their future. “We’re in a position to shape the future, rather than have it shape us,” Walsh said. “It’s a privilege that comes to very few and it falls on you, leaders of Irish credit unions. Change will occur, but how it looks and feels and whether it’s a force for good or not will depend on whether you seize the initiative.” The global economic downturn has driven credit union leaders worldwide to rethink their business model, Meyer said. “This downturn doesn’t just represent a cyclical moment. It’s a rethinking of consumerism and of business,” he added. “This is especially true for U.S. credit unions that have long relied on an enormous appetite for loans.” Meyer urged credit unions in Ireland not to be fooled into thinking they can ride out the current economic storm. “You face even harsher economic conditions than in the U.S. Stirring the status quo in times like these doesn’t count as a strategy,” he said. “Downturns, especially one of this magnitude, are the best times to try out new ideas,” Meyer added. “There may be few other opportunities for trying new ideas. Now is a time for leaders who think about what members need for tomorrow, not just managers who agonize over what their organization might need today.” Economist Richard Curran also presented at the “Future of Finance.” Curran is deputy editor of the Sunday Business Post, a leading business newspaper in Ireland.

N.J. league meeting discusses internships for disabled

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (8/31/10)--The New Jersey Credit Union League recently hosted a meeting for credit unions to discuss internships for disabled individuals through a program that has been implemented at five credit unions in the state.
Click to view larger image The New Jersey Credit Union League hosted a meeting about credit union internships for the disabled through the Building Economic Strength Together program. From left are: Daymar Rivera and Cathyann Frank, McGraw Hill FCU; Jose Del Valle, intern; Mulu Gebreyesus, New Community FCU; Megan Timble, intern; Pamela Owens, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions; Angel Santos, New Jersey Credit Union League; Jessica Revoir and Helga Britton, First Financial FCU; Regina Calamanco, Michael Holguin, Joshua Stanlaw and Crystal Castro, interns; Stacie Fourroux and Jennifer Seder, Healthcare Employees FCU; and Paul Gentile, CEO of the league. (Photo provided by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions)
The meeting was facilitated by Mark Lynch, field coach for the National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions program, and Pamela Owens, director of education and training with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. It focused on the Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) program, aimed at strengthening the connection between credit unions and the disabled community. The community is widely unbanked or underbanked, said the federation. BEST was developed by the federation, the National Disability Institute, and Allies Inc., a New Jersey-based training group for the disabled. The New Jersey league supports the program through its REAL Solutions initiative. Beginning in mid-July, seven interns worked at five New Jersey credit unions: McGraw Hill FCU, East Windsor; Healthcare Employees FCU, Princeton; First Financial FCU, Toms River; New Community FCU, Newark; and Novartis FCU, East Hanover. Interns worked in the credit unions’ human resources, marketing and accounting departments, and as tellers and member service representatives. Though only New Jersey credit unions are in the BEST programs. Program participants hope their work will serve as a national model. “This program not only helps those from the disability community gain valuable on-the-job experience by interning at credit unions, but it also helps credit unions understand how to better serve this important segment of our population,” said league President/CEO Paul Gentile. “Our involvement in the BEST internship program has been a truly rewarding experience,” added Jennifer Seder, director of marketing and business development at Healthcare Employees FCU. “It has allowed ups to explore ways to understand the needs of the disability community, while providing a hands-on approach for our intern to learn about the credit union industry from the inside out.” Training for BEST interns is paid for and conducted by BEST’s partner organizations. The credit unions involved in the project have little to no cost associated with participation.