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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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Durham Co-op Market holds grand opening celebration

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, April 13, 2015
Updated: Monday, April 13, 2015

After years of strategic planning, fundraising, community organizing ... and quite a bit of elbow grease ... the board and staff of the Durham Co-op Market (DCM) celebrated its grand opening with the community on Saturday, April 11, 2015. North Carolina's newest food cooperative, which officially opened for business in March, used the event to thank the many people along the way who were intimately involved with making it happen.

The original planning for the DCM goes back to 2006, according to General Manager Leila Wolfrum. "A handful of people got together and had this slightly crazy idea that they were going to build a grocery store," Wolfrum shared, "with no particular resources that really lent themselves to making a grocery store."  

Wolfrum added that this original group of volunteers wanted to build a store that not only met the needs of people, but also reflected the values of the community. So they got busy conducting research, pounding the pavement, raising a small amount of money as well as a groundswell of support. 

Then the financial crash of 2008 happened, which slowed the group's progress in one key way: obtaining the financing necessary to turn their well thought out concept into brick and mortar. However, neighbor-by-neighbor the dream continued moving forward as a truly community-focused initiative.

Self-Help Credit Union got involved and provided critical planning and the needed funding of the project, which is part of the revitalization of West Chapel Hill Street. The DCM is one tenant in the development that is bringing new business, as well as affordable housing to the neighborhood.

The key focus of the DCM is providing locally-sourced products to the community. The co-op has developed working relationships with a variety of local producers. DCM also looks for cooperative partnerships, with fellow food co-op Weaver Street Market providing breads and other fresh-baked goods to the store. 

The co-op is also focused on providing food access in the county's food deserts through programs like Food for All. The Food for All program offers Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients discounted memberships and sale prices on most products.

Another important program to benefit low-wealth households is Co-op Staples. This program allows a family of four to shop for a week's worth of core food items for about $50 according to DCM Treasurer Chuck Clifton. "It's important for us to reach out (to food deserts in the county) and make this good food - this local food - available to as many people as possible."    

If you'd like to check out the DCM, it is located at 1111 West Chapel Hill Street, just west of the Durham Freeway. The co-op is open 7:00 am - 9:00 pm seven days a week.



Tags:  Durham Co-op Market  Food Cooperatives 

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CUaware groups host successful educational events

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, April 13, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, April 14, 2015

With a spotlight on education in the first quarter, the CUaware Councils in North Carolina and South Carolina engaged hundreds of credit union professionals. The following are recaps of the events provided by the councils to the League.

CUaware Low Country

Troy Hall (South Carolina FCU) and Jeff Hardin (CCUL) at the
CUaware Low Country event March 10.

More than 45 credit union staff from credit unions in the Low Country gathered March 10 for a session focused on credit union principles & philosophy. Jeff Hardin, the director of cooperative initiatives for the Carolinas Credit Union League, facilitated the session. Troy Hall (South Carolina FCU) who serves as the chapter president, opened with inspirational remarks focused on embracing a vision that is larger than yourself.

Each person at the meeting was encouraged to research their credit union's origin story ahead of time,and these histories were shared with the larger group. Many of the credit unions represented began with fewer than 10 members, and have gone on to serve much larger member bases than at the beginning.

Hardin gave a brief history and Seven Cooperative Principles lesson to the audience, which then discussed one principle at their table and shared their key discussion points with the audience. Table groups were assigned in order to get people from different credit unions together to mix and mingle.

The group also shared how their credit unions continue to honor these founding principles. In a follow-up survey, one attendee remarked that it was great that “early credit union movement history was shared. So often younger staff do not hear why the movement started.” Overall it was a fun, engaging hour of self-discovery about the principles that make credit unions special!

CUaware Triad

Sue Douglas (State Employees' CU) facilitated a
presentation on the Seven Cooperative Principles at the
CUaware Triad meeting.

The Triad Council also focused on Credit Union Principles & Philosophy. Sue Douglas of State Employees' Credit Union facilitated the educational event at the lunch meeting, which was held March 19. A record 50 credit union professionals attended this inspiring lunch and learn session.

The Triad attendees began by breaking into small groups and discussing how credit unions differ from banks. These key differences and discussion points  were then shared with the larger group.  

Douglas then defined what a cooperative is, gave examples of well-known cooperatives, and discussed credit unions as financial cooperatives.

The session also included a guided tour through the Seven Cooperative Principles, and a closing discussion around some key questions for the audience to consider. Central to this discussion was what credit unions are doing to honor the principles - and what they might need to change.

CUaware Triangle

The Triangle Council joined forces with the Tarheel Chapter to host an educational event focused on credit union philosophy in action. Mark Curran, President/CEO of Lion's Share FCU, shared the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation's new partnership with Victory Junction. Called REACH, the project connects credit union staff with children at local hospitals in both Carolinas. Curran, who has volunteered at Victory Junction for many years, shared the impact the camp as on kids and their families, while encouraging credit unions to get involved with REACH. It's a unique partnership that will provide a fun and uplifting volunteer event for credit unions, while brightening the day of kids and families going through tough times. You can see more about REACH in the video at left.

The group also heard from 2014 CUaware Tarheel Chapter Protégé Jennifer Moore (Local Government FCU) about the impact the Protégé program has made on her life and career. Moore's account was timely since the chapter announced it is once again participating in the CUaware Protégé Competition this year!

Jeff Hardin and Ashley Ruffin (Local Government FCU) also shared opportunities for volunteering abroad with credit unions through the programs of the World Council. Ruffin & Hardin recapped their experiences from a trip they made to Mexico nearly three years ago.

About 40 people from the Triangle region attended the informative presentations.

CUaware PeeDee

The PeeDee Council hosted a panel discussion sharing a variety of credit union perspectives and opportunities. Robert Harris, President/CEO of Health Faclities FCU, shared his personal history of working in the financial services sector. Harris inspired the group by sharing why credit unions were the best fit for him after working in banks and other service providers. 

Brandon Pugh, the CCUL VP of PR/communications, shared the programs of the Carolinas Credit Union League. Pugh was joined by Jeff Hardin on the panel, who focused on opportunities for credit union staff to learn about Credit Union Principles & Philosophy. Hardin also shared updates about how new co-ops are forming to address the issue of access to healthy sources of food for low-wealth communities.

Upcoming Events

CUaware will turn the spotlight to volunteerism in the months ahead. Plans are being made by councils to organize volunteer initiatives. If you would like to get involved or find out more information, please contact Jeff Hardin or Brandon McAdams. Please click here to see the 2015 CUaware calendar. 




Tags:  CUaware 

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2014 CUaware Protégés benefiting from mentor program

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, March 30, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 23, 2015

Principle Five: Education, training, and information. Credit unions provide education to their employees, members and the communities they serve.

Principle Six: Cooperation among cooperatives. Credit unions work together to improve services to members and build sustainable communities.

In 2014, six chapter level winners participated in the CUaware Protégé Competition. From the written tests and public speaking engagements at the chapter level, to the finals at the Leadership Conference, each contestant described the CUaware Protégé Competition as quite a learning experience. That learning experience has continued into 2015, as five of the six chapter winners have been paired with a credit union mentor.

The CUaware Protégé Mentor program strives to provide young leaders exchange of knowledge and passion for the culture of credit unions. The program allows for a cross-cultural impact, encouraging the acceptance of new ideas, personal growth, and development opportunities.

Current leaders who serve as mentors also benefit by actively working to extend the credit union movement into the future. Now in its first year, the CUaware Protégé Mentor program was developed by Troy Hall (SC FCU) and Will Crosswell (Palmetto First FCU). Crosswell won the Palmetto Protégé Competition in 2013, while Hall is passionate about professional development opportunities for the emerging crop of credit union leaders.

SC Federal COO Troy Hall
developed the CUaware Mentor program in partnership with Will Crosswell of Palmetto First FCU.

“Emergent leaders need one-on-one opportunities to identify, challenge and adopt the beliefs and values of strong leadership models to prepare for their future endeavors," shared Hall, SC Federal's COO. "The CUaware Mentor program offers that type of connection and ensures there exists a succession of leaders within the credit union movement ready to step in at any time.”

The program itself is designed to be flexible in order to allow the Protégés an opportunity to concentrate on their individual goals and career focus areas. For Tarheel Chapter Protégé Jennifer Moore, whose career goal is to be a chief operations officer, that flexibility has allowed for organic growth in her relationship with mentor Arlene Babwah (Coastal FCU).

"She is focused on providing me with the information, tools and opportunities I need to be successful in furthering my career in the industry," said Moore of Babwah. "Arlene is a leader; she is very open-minded, inspiring and encouraging. She defines what a true mentor is and I am looking forward to developing our relationship for years to come."

For Northwest Chapter Protégé Jon Hamby, the focus has been on reaching shorter term goals. Mark Curran (Lion's Share FCU CEO), who serves as Hamby's mentor, encouraged him to enroll in CUNA's Financial Counselor Certification program. Hamby is well on his way to earning the designation. Along the way, he has become a strong advocate for the Protégé program at Members Credit Union, and is working with the senior management team to design an internal Protégé competition at the credit union.

Lion's Share FCU President/CEO Mark Curran is one of the five CU veterans serving as mentors.

"I see so much of myself in him," Curran says of Hamby. "I am continually reminded of when I was new to credit unions. I wanted to learn as much as I could and I needed encouragement all along the way. I have encouraged Jon to take advantage of every networking event he can and to read multiple industry publications and news feeds. We get together for lunch about once a month. In addition, we exchange e-mails and phone calls periodically as specific issues and questions arise."

As the 2015 CUaware Protégé Competition gets underway next month, the mentor program will be continued as a benefit for all the chapter level winners. "We will be looking for ways to expand the mentor program beyond CUaware later this year," shared Jeff Hardin, CCUL's director of cooperative initiatives. "Its powerful when experienced leaders at credit unions can give of their time and talents to inspire the next generation of credit union leadership, and leave an imprint on our movement."

Tags:  Principle Five  Principle Six 

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National CU Foundation video flips the script on a "lost cause"

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, March 23, 2015


Principle Five: Education, training, and information. Credit unions provide financial education to their members as well as the communities they serve.

Check out this creative and inspirational video produced by the National Credit Union Foundation. When it comes to financial freedom, I'm a lost cause was shown at the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards during the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.

Tags:  National CU Foundation  Principle Five 

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Waylett, Hendrix participate in GAC opening ceremonies

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, March 09, 2015

 Terri Hendrix, Carolina Foothills FCU  Michael Waylett, Vision Financial FCU

Two of North Carolina and South Carolina's finest participated in the opening of the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. Terri Hendrix of Carolina Foothills FCU (Spartanurg) and Michael Waylett of Vision Financial FCU (Durham) carried their respective state's flags on Monday morning, March 9.

The flag ceremony marks the official opening of CUNA's flagship political event of the year. Representatives from all 50 states march in a procession to demonstrate the power and connectivity of the cooperative movement.

Both Waylett and Hendrix are Credit Union Development Educators. CUDEs typically represent their state in the flag-bearing ceremony. In addition to the state flag, Hendrix wore a scarf adorned with the Palmetto tree and crescent moon, the symbols most commonly associated with the state.

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