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Seven Principles Blog
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In 1844, a small group of weavers from Rochdale, England created the blueprint for how their newly-formed cooperative would operate and serve the local community. These values, known as the Seven Cooperative Principles, serve as the operating guidebook for credit unions and cooperatives throughout the world. This blog was created to honor that legacy and to showcase the everyday efforts of credit unions in the Carolinas that embody the cooperative mission and purpose.


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Principle Seven: Spartanburg food co-op enters final stretch fundraising drive

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Since cooperatives are locally owned businesses, they are committed to investing in the community.

Plans are well underway for the Hub City Co-op to complete its fundraising campaign, with plans to open the downtown Spartanburg grocery in middle to late 2015. Organizers say that Hub City Co-op will be South Carolina’s only cooperatively-owned food store.

Hub City began in 2009 as a vision to provide healthy, locally-sourced food in downtown Spartanburg, and to provide a jolt to the local economy. “There is a huge outflow of cash from Spartanburg County by consumers who are purchasing healthy foods,” said Laura Barbas-Rhoden, a Hub City board member. Barbas-Rhoden cited a 2009 report that estimated more than $70 million a year in grocery, specialty food, and health & personal care sales flows outside the county, with much of it supporting regional and national grocery chains such as Whole Foods.

Hub City would seek to promote the local economy by keeping those dollars in the county, and by developing relationships with local farmers. “We want to make it easy for residents to connect with local farmers and producers, and healthy sources of food,” Barbas-Rhoden shared.

Hub City Co-op Board Member Laura Barbas-Rhoden (left) is pictured with Terri
Hendrix of Carolina Foothills FCU, who is a member-owner of Hub City. The
co-op is soon to embark on a stretch fundraising campaign, and plans to open
later in 2015.

The co-op boasts well over 1,100 members and funders, and is about to embark on its stretch funding drive. The co-op kicks off a $350,000 fundraising and membership drive in September, and the city of Spartanburg has agreed to match the $350,000 total if the goal is reached.

The fundraising campaign, which will run through the end of October, will give local residents a chance to join Hub City through the co-op’s $150 one-time membership fee; South Carolina-based owners may also invest in preferred shares ($1000 minimum) or loans ($2000 minimum) to provide the necessary project financing.

Hub City is part of Spartanburg’s effort to revitalize the downtown area of South Carolina’s twelfth-largest city. The co-op will also serve as a primary source of nutritious food for lower-income neighborhoods located in the city.

Barbas-Rhoden says the co-op’s board is passionate about the Hub City’s fit in the community. “We all want Spartanburg to be a community where people can thrive, and the co-op to be an outlet for local farmers and producers to thrive,” she shared. She added that the co-op can be a calling card for the community, as well as a place where people will love to shop.

For more information on Hub City, please visit the co-op’s web page.

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Principle Seven: Durham Museum displays local CU history

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, July 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Since credit unions are locally owned financial institutions, they are committed to investing in the community.

The Museum of Durham History, located at 500 W. Main Street in downtown Durham, is showcasing the century of local credit union history in the Bull City. "C is for Credit Union" chronicles the major happenings in the movement through the years, including the chartering of Lowe's Grove CU in 1916. Lowe's Grove is the South's first credit union. The interactive exhibit also includes many other major credit union developments in Durham through the years.

The Seventh Cooperative Principle of concern for community is a central theme of the exhibit. Local issues and community concerns are outlined, and the ways in which credit unions organized to solve these problems are discussed. "These credit unions have been coming up to meet a need in their community (and) being proactive about finding solutions to those needs," remarked Katie Spencer, the museum's executive director.

The exhibit will be on display through October 5, 2014. The museum is open 10:00 am until 5:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.

(Editor's note: read more about the exhibit in this linked article, which appeared in the Durham News.)

Tags:  Credit Union History  Credit Unions  Museum of Durham History  Principle Seven 

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Principle Five: Self-Help Home Energy Hoedown spotlights improving efficiency

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, July 18, 2014
Principle Five: Education, training, and information. Credit unions provide financial education to their members as well as the communities they serve.

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Since credit unions are locally owned financial institutions, they are committed to investing in the community.

The recent “Home Energy Hoedown” at Self-Help Credit Union focused attention on two key credit union principles: Principle Five (Education, Training & Information) and Principle Seven (Concern for Community). Local small business energy professionals explained how to take advantage of key areas for home energy improvement: envelope improvements, heating and air systems, and renewable energy.

The event took place July 10 in downtown Durham. Self-Help’s Environmental Stewardship Committee coordinated the informal brown bag lunch event. The Home Energy Hoedown answered several questions that are on everyone’s mind as the weather heats up, including how to go about purchasing and installing solar panels, whether attic insulation all it’s cracked up to be, and the payback on new windows.

Guest experts included Southern Energy Management (home solar experts), Home Performance of NC (energy efficiency experts, with emphasis on historic homes), and HVAC expert Alternative Aire. The event drew 20 curious members and consumers. The credit union also provided a home energy fact sheet (click here to download). 

Self-Help’s Sustainability Director, Melissa Malkin-Weber notes “The impacts of climate change, like rising sea levels, droughts, and fires, harm our members and our mission. Improving energy efficiency in our homes is a way that we can save money ourselves as well as protecting our members.” Learn more about Self-Help’s sustainability programs by following them on Twitter @SelfHelpGreen or or

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Principle One: SE Raleigh residents look to co-op model to strengthen community

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, July 11, 2014
Principle One: Voluntary and open membership. Membership is open to all people who are eligible to join the cooperative, without exception.  

Residents of southeast Raleigh may soon have an oasis in their "food desert", as the Fertile Ground Food Cooperative launches its membership campaign later this month. Fertile Ground, which would be Raleigh's only cooperatively owned food store, kicks off its membership drive with a special event to be held Thursday evening, July 31 beginning a 6:30 pm at the Walnut Creek Wetland Center.

INDY week announced the event in its July 9 edition (click here to read the story). The publication notes that a small group of founding members kicked money into the co-op a year ago, and has been busy with organizational work and community meetings in the months since. If all goes well, the co-op hopes to open for business in about a year.

The southeast portion of Raleigh has been identified as a food desert, an area where affordable and nutritious food is hard to obtain. The food co-op would alleviate this problem by placing a retail grocery store in close proximity to southeast Raleigh residents.

Beyond the food co-op, the Fertile Ground organizers envision it as a means for residents to build an alternative economy by increasing collective ownership, fostering entrepreneurship and creating pathways to living-wage jobs.       

Membership in the cooperative is $100, and the public is invited to the kick-off event July 31. For more details, you may download the invitation or call 919-609-1237.

Tags:  People Helping People  Principle One Food Cooperatives 

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Principle Seven: State CU young professionals engage SC communities

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, July 07, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 07, 2014
Principle Seven: Concern for community. Since credit unions are locally owned financial institutions, they are committed to investing in the community.

State Credit Union's Young Professional Advocacy group has worked together on a variety of community projects, including the Keep America Beautiful Campaign in Norway, SC earlier this year.
Young credit union professionals increasingly have a voice within the movement. From regional opportunities like CUaware's Protege competition to events on the national level such as Crash the GAC, the next generation of credit union leadership is getting more and more chances to connect, network and enhance their career path.

Recognizing both this trend and the importance of community engagement, State Credit Union created a Young Professionals Advocacy (YPA) group two years ago. SCU created the YPA group to give young professionals an opportunity to become more involved within communities served by the credit union. The group meets quarterly to discuss projects.  

Besides community involvement and engagement, SCU SVP of Sales & Marketing, Angie Huffstetler notes that young professionals gain greater credit union knowledge and networking experience through the group. SCU's Romona Hooker coordinates the group. 

Earlier this year, the YPAs helped beautify the town of Norway in Orangeburg County. Six employees volunteered their time cleaning in the downtown area and painting the town hall as part of Norway's Keep America Beautiful project (please click here for the story in the local newspaper).

In addition to volunteering their time, the credit union's Community Events Committee made a $500 monetary donation to the cause. Paired with donations from other agencies, planters, trash cans, benches, paint and painting supplies were purchased to help complete the day's work.

Past projects undertaken by the YPAs include the Lexington Kids Day program, and Families Helping Families. Another key initiative happened last year with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "Our initial goal was to raise $3500," said Huffstetler, "but with the overwhelming support from our staff , members and SCU, we were able to raise $10,000. The funds helped to send a seriously ill child and their family to Disney World.

In addition to leading the charge on the fundraiser, ten YPAs volunteered to work the Make-A-Wish Ball in Columbia last summer. The YPA group is once again supporting Make-A-Wish Foundation this summer. The YPA fundraiser gets underway next week.   

Hooker, a mortgage loan officer at SCU, notes that the group slogan is Bridging the Generations, which reflects the credit union's core commitment to the YPAs. "We want to be a forum for young professionals focusing on leadership and professional growth," she shared. "We are really looking forward to the Make-A-Wish Campaign and our future outreach efforts."  

Tags:  Credit Unions  Principle Seven  State Credit Union 

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