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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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Guest Post: Jon Hamby shares CUaware Protégé insights

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, September 30, 2014

(Editor's note: the 2014 CUaware Protégé contestants have each been invited to submit guest posts recapping their experiences and the lessons they learned along the way.  In this post, Northwest Chapter representative Jon Hamby of Members CU shares his thoughts.) 

C.S. Lewis once said “Experience: the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” The CUaware Protégé competition has been an experience. For me the competition meant being able to share my passion for helping others with their finances and being able to gain the contacts in which to enable me to further that passion.

Overwhelming joy is what comes to mind when I think about this entire experience. The support from so many in the industry has been one of the most exciting parts. Support from my credit union, my chapter representatives and others along the way has truly been a blessing and an encouragement.

One key point stands out to me about this competition: learning. Through studying for the written exam and preparing for my oral presentation, I learned so much about the credit union movement. It's honestly a movement that I am honored to be a part of. Not only did I learn a lot about credit unions, I learned a lot about me! The general sessions as well as the breakout sessions at the CCUL Leadership Conference in Pinehurst, NC where the finals were held, allowed me to see different leadership styles and how I fit in the mix. The lessons both professional and personal are ones I would have never gained without going through this whole experience.

Having Fun at the Leadership Conference (L-R): Jenn Moore, Tarheel Chapter Protégé; Hannah McGee, Columbia Chapter Protégé; Barry Thompson, guest judge; Jon Hamby, Northwest Chapter Protégé; Micah Smith, Upstate Chapter Protégé; Deb McLean, guest judge; Joshua McKinney, Pee Dee Chapter Protégé; Corey Pace, Charleston Area Chapter Protégé; and John McGrail, guest judge.

One of the most memorable moments at Pinehurst was the Welcome Reception. As soon as I walked into the room, Hannah McGee (CUaware Protégé for the Columbia Chapter and 2014 CUaware Protégé runner-up) was the first to greet me. I don't think Hanna stopped smiling the whole weekend! She was so warm and welcoming not only to me but to all the finalists. We have been in contact with each other and talked several times since returning home from the competition.

Thanks to Will Crosswell and Troy Hall, just because the competition is over, doesn't mean that we as finalists are simply forgotten about. They designed the CUaware Protégé Mentor Program. This multi-purposed approach to employee development allows for a cross-cultural impact, encouraging the acceptance of new ideas, personal growth, and development opportunities. It provides finalists from each chapter an opportunity to align goals and aspirations between mentors and mentees of credit unions engaged in the Carolinas Credit Union League.

I am honored to have Mark Curran, CEO of Lion’s Share FCU as my mentor. I look forward to working with Mark over the next 12 months and gain as much knowledge from him as possible. We have communicated almost daily by email and have already met for lunch!

Since the competition, I am on my way to earning my Credit Union Certified Financial Counselor's certification! This will allow me to further use my knowledge to help our members who may be struggling financially.

I encourage all young professionals to take part in this wonderful opportunity in 2015. I know it will mean just as much to them as it did to me!


Jon Hamby, noting that he's had “more 'jobs' in his life than both his parents combined,” decided nearly seven years ago that he desired a career. This new journey began at a bank, lasting only three months before he left to work at Members Credit Union in 2009. Starting out in member services as a teller, Jon now serves as a financial solutions counselor where he gets the opportunity to help people—especially his generation—gain a deeper understanding of finances, credit, and budgeting.

In addition to his role at the credit union, Jon is an avid volunteer in the community. 

Tags:  CUaware Protégé  Members Credit Union 

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Guest Post: Corey Pace shares CUaware Protégé insights

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2014

(Editor's note: the 2014 CUaware Protégé contestants have each been invited to submit guest posts recapping their experiences and the lessons they learned along the way.  In this post, Charleston Chapter representative Corey Pace of SC FCU shares her thoughts.)

Through participating in the CUaware Protégé competition and attending the Leadership Conference this year, my eyes were opened to how our credit unions are actively carrying out the Seven Principles on a league level.  In fact, by having this competition available to young credit union professionals, the league is demonstrating Principles Five (Education, Training, and Information) and Six (Cooperation Among Cooperatives) in a very practical way.  Through the CUaware program , our league recognizes and affirms that we must cooperate to engage, educate, and train our young professionals to secure our movement’s future.

This program is designed to truly engage young professionals on many levels.  The written exam caused me to research more and become better acquainted with our origins, purpose, and resources.  Preparing and delivering my speech gave me an opportunity to contribute my expertise to the larger conversation of how to move our industry forward.  I’ve discovered how passionate I am about the credit union movement and how my part of hiring and developing the right people is crucial to driving the innovation needed for industry growth.  Lastly, participation in the Leadership Conference allowed me to meet some truly remarkable individuals: the other Protégé participants and leaders in our league.  Now I know the folks with whom I can collaborate to further the success of our league.

My job as a Talent Acquisition Representative at South Carolina Federal Credit Union is not only to acquire top talent for our open positions but to retain the wonderful folks we have working with us.  One of the ways I do this is by providing career coaching sessions to employees where we discuss their career aspirations.   I connect them with resources they need to be prepared to step into their future roles.  After participating in this program, I will be sure to share my experience with our young professionals and encourage them to participate.  Through the CUaware Protégé competition, I have learned that not only is it important to retain and develop our employee’s intellectual capital for my own credit union’s future but for the chapter, league, and the movement’s future, as well.




Originally from Lone Tree, IA, Corey Pace is a graduate of Oral Roberts University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Theological/Historical Studies. She joined the SC Federal Credit Union family in 2007 and aspires to become a leader in the credit union industry for acquiring and retaining the necessary talent to drive industry growth and success.

Corey is the credit union's talent acquisition representative.

Tags:  CUaware Protégé SC FCU 

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Principle Seven: Palmetto First FCU loan products help hungry people

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, September 22, 2014

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

Hunger is on the rise in South Carolina. More than two-million people were served by Harvest Hope Food Bank last year. That’s an increase of nearly 300,000 in just 12 months.

“Harvest Hope assists people in 20 counties in the state,” said Angie Burr, Palmetto First Federal Credit Union CEO/President. “In Florence and surrounding counties, more than 851,000 people were served in 2013. When we see a need like this among our neighbors, we have to help out.”

Palmetto First is taking the initiative with a $50 donation to Harvest Hope Food Bank for each qualified auto loan or refinance through October 31. All members have to do is mention support Harvest Hope so the Food Bank receives the donation.

The mission of Harvest Hope Food Bank is to provide for the needs of hungry people by gathering and sharing quality food with dignity, compassion and education. Since 1981, Harvest Hope has increased the scope of its operations to provide food, comfort and hope to hungry individuals and families in the Pee Dee, Midlands, and Greater Greenville regions of South Carolina.

“Our commitment extends beyond the food bank to other areas of the community,” Burr added.

Palmetto First also supports The Naomi Project for women who have suffered domestic abuse and to be a safe haven for women and their families, The Florence Area Humane Society, and the Florence Area Literacy Council which will begin hosting monthly financial education courses with Palmetto First.

These projects demonstrate the credit union's commitment to building stronger, sustainable communities.

Tags:  Palmetto First FCU  Principle Seven 

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Guest post: Hannah McGee shares CUaware Protégé insights

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, September 10, 2014

(Editor's note: the 2014 CUaware Protégé contestants have each been invited to submit guest posts recapping their experiences and the lessons they learned along the way. In this post, Columbia Chapter representative and Protégé runner-up Hannah McGee of Palmetto Citizens FCU shares her thoughts.)

This experience has been fantastic in so many ways. Through studying for the written exam, I gained a better understanding of the Credit Union movement in the world as well as the Carolinas. Providing the history of North and South Carolina gives me an idea of where we have been as well as our goals for the future.

The Seven Principles Blog is my favorite part of the exam materials. I enjoyed discussing the simulations in Winston-Salem with Jon Hamby (CUaware Protégé for the Northwest Chapter) to gain further understanding of what his chapter is doing to promote financial literacy. Throughout many conversations, I found myself recalling entries from the Seven Principles Blog and others being impressed that I remembered this entry that pertained to their Credit Union or Chapter.

The presentation was a fantastic experience as well. Public speaking is something that I love to do. Finding one topic from the large variety was probably my biggest challenge. Once I decided on my topic, however, the rest fell into place. I found myself practicing several phrases pertaining to the credit union movement. Not all of these phrases were used in the presentation, however, putting my thoughts into words has made it easier to explain the credit union movement to my friends, family and members.

I am so excited to have been “adopted” by Terri Hendrix with Carolina Foothills Credit Union! Providing seasoned professionals in the industry helps personify where the industry has been, where we are right now, and the future goals that we want to have achieved.

Finally, the experience in Pinehurst was one to remember. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting other credit union professionals and dedicated volunteers. Attending the breakout sessions provided a better understanding of the industry and everyone else’s shared goal of providing excellent service to members and our colleagues. In addition, I found myself making some goals of my own.

Amanda Crawford, who placed second runner up last year, mentioned a young professionals’ part of the chapter that she had worked with Will Crosswell to manage. I wouldn’t mind getting with others in the Columbia Chapter to start something similar.

Micah Smith (2014 CUaware Protégé) and I have been in contact. We are looking to collaborate on many ideas for our chapters, the Protégé Program, as well as discuss how we will be utilizing our scholarships.

This was a career-enhancing experience and I am very thankful to have so many people supporting me and providing me the resources to get to where I did.


Born and raised in Columbia, S.C., Hannah graduated from Columbia College in 2012 with a bachelor’s in communication and a particular interest in political communication. Her many accomplishments during her time at Columbia College include being selected as the Holocaust Remembrance speaker, presenting at the Carolinas Communication Association and Southern States Communication Association conferences, and returning as the 2012 Student Leader of the Year speaker.

Hannah serves as a credit specialist for Palmetto Citizens FCU.

Tags:  CUaware Protégé  Palmetto Citizens FCU 

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Principle One: Hub City Co-op kicks off stretch funding drive

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Principle : Voluntary and open membership. Membership is open to all people who are eligible to join the cooperative, without exception.

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

Hub City Co-op, which plans to open for business in downtown Spartanburg next year, kicks off its stretch funding drive this week with an event at the Refuel Wine Bar. The kickoff celebration happens Thursday evening, September 4 from 5:30 until 8:30 pm. (You may RSVP to attend by clicking here.)

The goal of the fundraising campaign is to recruit new members and investors, while raising $350,000 toward beginning operations in 2015. The stretch campaign runs through the end of October and if successful, will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the City of Spartanburg.

To follow the progress of the campaign, you may foll the co-op's Twitter account (@HubCityCo_op) and look for the hash tags #CityChallengeHCC and #filltheapple. You will also find a full list of upcoming events on the Hub City web site.

"The Hub City Co-Op is an important project for Downtown Spartanburg, and the surrounding region," notes Mayor Junie White. "As we continue to work on developing our downtown, we need a place where people can shop for groceries and other essential items. This project, when completed and opened, will lead to further investment in our downtown area."

Tags:  Hub City Co-op 

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