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Historic CU photo recreated at CUNA anniversary

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ESTES PARK, Colo. (9/17/09)--Leaders from the Credit Union Association (CUNA) and today’s credit union system held a commemorative ceremony yesterday on the YMCA camp grounds in Estes Park, Colo., the original site of CUNA’s founding 75 years ago. About 150 system leaders gathered to hear commemorative remarks from CUNA Chairman Kris Mecham; CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica; American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) Chair Rosie Holub; Bill and Catherine Herring, the son and daughter of early credit union organizer Louise Herring who attended the 1934 Estes Park meeting; and Kathy Pelletier, the granddaughter of credit union pioneer Roy F. Bergengren. The following are excerpts from their remarks:
* CUNA Chairman Kris Mecham recalled that back in 1934, before
Click to view larger image Seventy-five years ago, pioneers of the credit union movement--including Edward Filene, Roy Bergengren and Claude Orchard--posed at the YMCA campsite in Estes Park, Colo., to record the founding of the Credit Union National Association on Sept. 10, 1934. The photo has become an icon in the credit union movement history. (Photos provided by CUNA).
setting out for the Colorado meeting, Roy Bergengren expressed his thoughts about the movement in a letter to his boss, Edward Filene. "I sincerely believe," Bergengren wrote, "that what we are going to do at Estes Park will have extraordinary consequences." Added Mecham: “How right he was. The system that sprang forth on Aug. 10, 1934, is ‘extraordinary.’ Our early founders would be proud of their work, and they would marvel at how our system has grown and evolved during the last three-quarters of a century. But we’ve maintained the same values as the pioneers initiated in those early days. We are still ‘not for profit, not for charity, but for service,’ and all about ‘people helping people.’" * AACUL Chair Rosie Holub noted that in 1934 there were only five sustaining leagues (New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Missouri). “A primary purpose of CUNA then was to form leagues in every state to develop the credit union movement and credit unions in those states. In the early days Roy Bergengren emphasized the importance of unity; it was difficult to achieve even then. Let us pledge, as did the credit union leaders, to work together cooperatively and collectively to achieve unity of purpose and voice.” * Kathy Pelletier read portions of a moving speech her grandfather,
Click to view larger image Leaders and supporters of the credit union movement gathered Wednesday in Estes Park, Colo., to commemorate the founding of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) there. One of the day's highlights was a group photo similar to the original photo of CUNA founders taken there in 1934.
Roy F. Bergengren, delivered in Estes Park on CUNA’s 20th anniversary in 1954. Her grandfather took note of great events in history--the signing of the Magna Carta (the beginning of democracy), the Mayflower compact (symbol of the right to worship according to the dictates of conscience); the Declaration of Independence (our American charter of liberty); the U.S. Constitution (which gave practicality to freedom); the Gettysburg Address (rededicating us to government by the people). He explained how these are all milestones that are “great days of remembrance.”

“We too, would add a day of remembrance,” Bergengren said then. “Because there are nine million of us today and the prospect of 100 million in the not too remote future, and our day is of more than passing significance.” He went on to say the day is made significant because “usury has existed all through the centuries because of the false assumption that the average man was not entitled to normal money credit.” The solution was found “in the hitherto unsuspected capacity of the people to work together, to pool their savings, however small, and thereby to create normal credit for themselves without usury.” He later concluded: “May our children and our children’s children return to this spot, from time to time over the years, here to renew their inspiration to carry on the war for economic opportunity, which their ancestors started.” Even today, her grandfather remains “her role model,” Pelletier concluded. * Bill Herring, a CUNA board member, and Catherine Herring are both CEOs of Ohio credit unions and each recalled their mother, Louise, sometimes referred to as “the mother of the CU movement” who in her day organized more than 500 credit unions. Bill said that his mother and her fellow founders 75 years ago saw the effect of the high cost of credit on every day people. “They had a vision that a national organization working with state leagues would organize credit unions and represent credit unions as a strong voice at the state and national level. The founders 75 years ago would be proud of CUNA today.”.”

Catherine Herring noted that her mother was among the youngest attendees at the 1934 Estes Park gathering, but all her life was never one to be shy or intimidated, especially when it came to credit unions. “If you think about it, it was a pretty radical concept at the time. Working people would work together for the common good. She felt credit unions would make a difference in people’s lives,” Catherine said. She also told the audience how her mother summed up what was distinct about credit unions: “Their aim is to allow the average working person to exchange their paycheck for the maximum amount of goods and services.” * CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica told the audience how he was struck by the “simplicity of the original photo 75 years ago. The majesty of the mountains, the beautiful scenery.” Looking at the same surroundings today, Mica said, “It is truly great to be part of the credit union movement. We have something special to be proud of.” But he said we should “honor and learn from the past, but we should not be chained to the past. There’s still a lot of work to be done to educate the rest of the world about who we are and what we do. We have tomorrow’s opportunity in front of us.”
Guests at yesterday’s commemoration included the CUNA and CUNA Stratetgic Services (CSS) boards and executive management teams, league presidents and their chairs, representatives from affiliated and guest credit union organizations, and National Credit Union Administration board member Gigi Hyland. Additionally, honored guests included past CUNA chairs J. Alvin George, Gary Janacek, Nancy Pierce, Dave Maus, Barry Jolette, Dick Ensweiler, Juri Valdov, Allan Kemp McMorris, and Tom Dorety as well as former CUNA President Ralph Swoboda. To further mark CUNA’s 75th anniversary, a photo of today’s group was taken at the same location where 52 credit union delegates from 21 states and the District of Columbia originally posed for the iconic photo taken in 1934 against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.

Wisconsin CUs outperform state banks in service

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PEWAUKEE, Wis. (9/17/09)--Credit unions' mission is to serve all working Americans and their families, not just the poor, and in Wisconsin, they are doing a better job at it, even though banks are required to serve low-income areas through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), says the Wisconsin Credit Union League. League President CEO Brett Thompson noted that a recent report by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) uses faulty methods to conclude that banks do a better job that credit unions serving low and moderate-income people and calls for unnecessary legislation. NCRC's report has several flaws, said the league. It mistakenly assumes credit unions are intended to serve only the poor and "cherry picks data and ignores findings from federal regulators that show credit unions are fulfilling their true mission--to serve all working Americans," Thompson said. A previous NCRC study's state-specific data indicates that Wisconsin credit unions outperform Wisconsin banks in serving minorities and people of modest means, despite the fact banks are subject to CRA while credit unions are not, said Thompson. Wisconsin credit unions outperformed state banks in all three areas covered in the study: providing single family home purchase loans, refinancings and home improvement loans. Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data says Wisconsin's low-income mortgage borrowers' approval rate is 74.7% at credit unions and 49.8% at non-credit union lenders. For minority mortgage applicants, the Wisconsin credit union approval rate is 72%, compared with 46.6% at non-credit union lenders, said the league. Credit unions have 10% of the Wisconsin financial services market share but operate 40% of the financial institution branches in the state's low-income census tracts. Roughly 94% of all Wisconsin banks, including 12 of the largest 20 banks, have no branches in low-income census tracts, said the league. "Wisconsin's credit unions are doing a great job serving all of their 2.2 million members," Thompson said. "Last year, their members saved $208 million by saving at and borrowing from their local credit unions instead of banks. Credit unions don't need more regulation to do right by their members--they're already doing it. One more flawed study can't change the real facts."

Study CUs have loyalty edge on banks gap narrows

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SALT LAKE CITY (9/17/09)--Credit unions continue to have a much higher member/customer engagement level and loyalty than banks, says a firm that specializes in loyalty and engagement benchmarking surveys. However, the gap is narrowing, according to the mid-year results reported from the Allegiance National Benchmarking/Pulse of America Survey, conducted by Utah-based Allegiance, Inc. Among the findings:
* Member/customer expectations of credit unions and banks have shifted from the more traditional roles of industry leader, guardian and protector of member/customer finances. * Credit unions continue to have much higher engagement levels than at banks. However credit unions surveyed saw member/customer engagement decrease to 49% from 57% between January and June--the sharpest drop since the survey began in October 2007, said the firm. It did not provide reasons why the drop occurred. * Engagement levels among older member/customers have fallen. While levels remained constant for consumers 54 or younger, those who are older dropped 10% on average in engagement with their financial institutions. * Both banks and credit unions surveyed focused their member/customer engagement resources on the most profitable demographics. While engagement fell by 8% among consumers surveyed with incomes of $50,000 or less, engagement rose by 3% for those with incomes ranging from $50,000 to $150,000.
Allegiance National Benchmarking service helps financial institutions uncover what drives consumer engagement in specific industries so they can retain their customers and grow.

Mass. treasurer teams with CU on finance essay contest

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BOSTON (9/17/09)--Massachusetts Treasurer Tim Cahill announced Monday that his office's Financial Education Department is teaming up with Chelsea, Mass.-based Metro CU and a radio station to offer "Four Downs for Finance," an essay contest for K-12 students. Joining the $763.5 million asset credit union in the project is WBZ-FM 98.5 The Sports Hub. In the contest, students submit essays about the importance of saving money to the website: Mass.gov/Treasury. A grand prize winner will receive a $500 savings account, a school visit from Cahill and New England Patriots offensive lineman Dan Koppen, and an invitation to attend the season's last Patriots game on Dec. 27. Each week during the Patriots regular season, three winning essays will be selected. Weekly winners will be announced on Patriots Radio Network and receive an autographed photo from Koppen. The grand prize winner, plus second and third place finalists will be chosen from the group of weekly winners for the opportunity to see the last game.

Illinois small CUs conference attracts 100

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (9/17/09)--A record number of 100 participants from small credit unions throughout Illinois attended the Illinois Credit Union League’s (ICUL) annual Small Asset Size (SAS) credit union conference held recently.
Ray Rogers, left, chairman of the Illinois Quad Cities Chapter of Credit Unions, presented a $500 donation to Chad Pregracke, founder and president of environmental relief organization Living Lands and Waters, during the Illinois Credit Union League's recent Chapter Leaders Conference. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
The two-day conference for credit unions under $20 million in assets addressed challenges and concerns of this particular asset group. Topics focused on helping small credit unions compete in today’s turbulent and constantly changing marketplace. Nearly 270--or 72%--of ICUL’s member credit unions hold $20 million or less in assets. Highlights from the first day of sessions included a panel of speakers from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s (IDFPR) Division of Financial Institutions (DFI). They included Ron Jones, NCUA economic development specialist; Gerald Schultz, NCUA supervisory examiner; and David Anderson, DFI senior financial institution examiner. The panelists discussed the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and common BSA violations, NCUA’s programs for small credit unions, and how small credit unions can work together with the IDFPR for the benefit of their members. They also provided information about identity theft and red flags. The second day of the conference included ICUL regional directors Joyce Jackson and Penni Gebke, who presented information on the benefits of strategic planning and creating a unique business plan. Carol Bertoux, ICUL associate general counsel, led a discussion on developing basic credit union policies. Other topics discussed included board member relations, marketing, shared branching and student outreach. “The SAS continues to be a premier educational event for our small credit unions,” said Dan Plauda, ICUL president/CEO. “This is a core group in our state, and we are very interested in providing them with all of the information and resources they need to be successful.” This year’s conference, the eighth annual event, was sponsored by the Illinois Credit Union Foundation and CUNA Mutual Group.

Texans CUSOs Chapter 11 bankruptcy approved

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RICHARDSON, Texas (9/17/09)--The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas approved all motions for bankruptcy relief Sept. 10 for Texans CUSO Insurance Group. The group, a subsidiary of Texans CU, filed for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 11 reorganization on Sept. 5. The group filed its case to resolve temporary operational and liquidity issues. The court granted:
* Approval to pay pre-petition commissions owed to its independent agents; * Approval to remit all insurance premiums to insurance carriers; * Approval to honor pre-petition wages and benefits of its employees; and * Interim approval to use cash collateral. The final cash collateral hearing is scheduled for Oct. 8.
Mike Haselden, group president, said its agents, employees and customers would not experience any interruption in service as the organization works through the Chapter 11 process. Texans CU, Richardson, Texas, has $1.7 billion in assets.

PCUA launches Small CU Network

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/17/09)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) has launched the Small Credit Union Network (SCUNet) to provide resources specifically for credit unions under $10 million in assets in the state.
Rick Myxter, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) associate vice president, co-chaired a task force that created PCUA’s Small Credit Union Network to help credit unions under $10 million in assets. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
Under the network, PCUA staff will work with small credit unions to facilitate mentoring relationships between CEOs of small credit unions and credit union professionals in various disciplines. The network was created by a task force appointed by PCUA in May to identify small credit unions’ needs. Cookie Yoder, PCUA director and Pittsburgh FCU CEO, chaired the task force. Rick Myxter, PCUA associate vice president, is co-chair (Life is a Highway Sept. 16). PCUA is asking credit union CEOs to sign a pledge sheet to commit to success working through the framework of “The Seven C’s.” The Seven C’s is an acronym for core areas that the task force identified as critical to credit unions’ success. They are:
* Competent staff; * Committed volunteers; * Communicate credit union value; * Commitment to staff and board education; * Contribute to well-being of membership; * Change and adapt for growth and prosperity; and * Collaboration.

Hartford Healthcare FCU hosts Trinidad CU

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HARTFORD, Conn. (9/17/09)--Hartford (Conn.) Healthcare FCU strengthened its decade-long relationship with the West Indian
Hartford (Conn.) Healthcare FCU employees Karen Viets, standing, and Kim Gavon spent more than a week interning at the San Fernando Community CU in Trinidad in a cooperative international exchange program.
population of the Hartford metropolitan area, hosting more than a dozen credit union visitors Monday from the both the Co-operative Credit Union League of Trinidad and Tobago and Trinidad credit unions. The visitors spent the day touring the Connecticut state Capitol and meeting with representatives of the legislative and executive branches of state government. The West Indian population of the Hartford metro area is the third largest in the U.S. The event was a follow-up to last September when the credit union signed an International Partnership agreement through the World Council of Credit Unions with San Fernando Community CU (SFCCU) of Trinidad, pledging to share procedures, philosophy and staff for the cooperative improvement of both financial institutions. The credit union this year hosted Angelica George, an SFCCU employee, to intern in Hartford for eight days, and also sent Karen Viets and Kim Govan, two Hartford employees, to the SFCCU in Trinidad. Several Connecticut and Trinidad credit unions are in cooperative efforts. “U.S. credit unions are recognizing the importance of making an international connection,” said Carol Bayreuther, president/CEO of
Joy Chance, left, president of the West Indian Foundation of Hartford, chats with Angelica George, an employee of the San Fernando Community CU in Trinidad and an intern at Hartford Healthcare FCU. (Photos provided by Hartford Healthcare FCU)
Hartford Healthcare FCU. “We’re learning to reach out not only locally, but also globally to encourage the strength of credit unions and foster the progress of financial independence of credit union members everywhere.” Hartford Healthcare FCU recently was selected by the West Indian Foundation of Hartford as an integral part of its community, Bayreuther added. Hartford HealthCare FCU has $29 million in assets.

CU System briefs (09/16/2009)

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* DALLAS (9/17/09)--The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized Acequia, a business based in Athens, Texas, and its partners and clients for their leadership in water management. Among the partners and clients recognized is $5.3 billion asset Security Service FCU, San Antonio. Acequia was one of six Water Efficiency Leader Award winners in 2008, exceeding expectations in water management based on three criteria: leadership, innovation and water saved. It surpassed its five year goals of sustaining measured water reductions from 20% to 54% across nearly 70 commercial properties. Acequia, the credit union and nine other businesses documented they saved more than 899 million gallons of water in Texas … * MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (9/17/09)--Floyd E. Russell, 50, of Marborough, Mass., has been charged with cashing a dead friend's disability checks and selling the man's van, netting about $25,000 in income, said police. St. Mary's CU, a $509.8 million asset credit union in Marborough, called police after suspecting the fraud. The friend died in September 2008 before the most recent checks were cashed. Russell told police he cashed the checks to finance the friend's funeral. He has been charged with 23 counts of forgery and larceny between October 2009 and May 2009 (TheBostonChannel.com Sept. 15) … * FARMINGTON, Mich. (9/17/09)--LOC FCU based in Farmington, Mich., has added two new programs to its Summer Financial Literacy Program, now in its third year. More than 100 children and teens
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participated. In addition to its program at the Farmington Library, the $121 million asset credit union, added a program in Hartland. Children ages 7-12 earn play money for attending, participating, and doing homework during the five-week program. They track their earnings on a check register so they will know how much money they have to spend on the last day of class (shopping day). The curriculum includes wants/needs and how to make change, budgeting with jelly beans, the power of marketing, what is a bargain, and putting it all to work--going shopping on a budget. The second program added included the Financial Literacy Camp Reality Check, a one-week program for ages 12 to 18, in which they make and market a product, discuss financial tools and undergo a mock life experience session. (Photo provided by LOC FCU) * PANAMA CITY, Fla. (9/17/09)--Tyndall FCU announced it will make a one-time Community Service Grant to area organizations to improve Christmas for underprivileged children. A total of $25,000 in donations, or $2,500 each, will go to 10 charitable organizations in Northwest Florida and Southeast Alabama. Although the past year has been difficult economically for many families, Tyndall's financial performance continues to be exceptional with net income substantially above its business plan, said the credit union. Every dollar donated will be dedicated to a program to improve Christmas for the children …

Calif. league honors Bay FCU CEO Terry Agius

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (9/17/09)--Communidad Latina FCU CEO Terry Agius and Bay FCU are the 2009 recipients of the first-ever Community Outreach Awards, given out by the California Credit Union League. The award was formerly the league’s Diversity Award. Agius, who also works for SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, Calif., was the recipient in the individual category, while Capitola, Calif.-based Bay FCU won in the greater than $100 million asset credit union category. The awards are presented by the league’s Community Outreach Committee. The Community Outreach Awards are presented to individuals, credit unions or organizations that have demonstrated an understanding of the importance of credit union membership and financial education, and awareness of diverse and underserved groups within the community. Agius was honored for her successful partnerships with community organizations, her involvement with a new Bank on Santa Ana initiative, and her work in helping Communidad Latina FCU--chartered in 2006--succeed in its mission to provide financial services to people of modest means. Bay FCU was recognized for its breadth of community outreach activities—ranging from its community support team and sponsorships of community events to its youth education program and membership awareness campaigns. Bay FCU and Agius will be honored during the league’s Annual Meeting and Convention Nov. 16-18 in Las Vegas.