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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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Sawdust, Empty Bottles and Moustaches

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Thursday, October 16, 2014


(Editor's note: the following post originally appears on the CU Water Cooler site. William Azaroff's presentation on cooperatives took place at the CU Water Cooler Symposium in September. To receive news and commentary from the CU Water Cooler, please click here.)   

As credit union people, when we get together we often end up talking about our cooperative roots. Then we pretty quickly get into weird discussions like whether we’re a movement or a system, or whether we use .coop or .com for our website domains. We immediately get into the minutiae and don’t spend nearly enough time talking about our principles and values or how our roots can guide us in the modern, chaotic, competitive world of financial services.

My talk, Sawdust, Empty Bottles and Moustaches is a retelling of our cooperative history against a backdrop of modern community pressures like food deserts and emerging opportunities such as the sharing economy.

I hope that people who see my presentation see the connection between our history and principles, the needs of the people in our communities and the business opportunities before us as financial cooperatives. And maybe, just maybe, our credit unions will build stronger connections with the coops operating in our trade regions and build enduring partnerships for mutual benefit.

Tags:  Cooperative Purpose  Values  Vancity 

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Principle Seven: Carolina credit unions celebrate CU Lunch Local

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Thursday, October 16, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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

Mary Hollingsworth (at left) and Sara Ginthner of
SC Federal Credit Union donned credit union logo
wear and fanned out into the community, buying
lunches for patrons of local eateries as part of
CU Lunch Local.

Credit unions in North Carolina and South Carolina took time to celebrate CU Lunch Local on Tuesday. Credit union employees and members joined in on the grassroots effort to show support for local restaurants in both states.

SC Federal Credit Union donned its logo wear to call attention to the credit union as a locally owned, community focused institution since 1936. Employees throughout the credit union's branch system fanned out to locally-owned restaurants, purchasing lunch for surprised patrons at local eateries.

Lion's Share Federal Credit Union in Salisbury took an in-branch approach to the day, providing pizza to members who dropped by the credit union. The pizza was prepared by Village Inn Pizza, a locally owned restaurant in Salisbury.

Greenwood Municipal Federal Credit Union dropped in at the Amish Oven in Greenwood, buying lunches for customers there, including Brad "Bubba" Bell, who works for Greenwood Commissioners of Public Works, a local utility. “It was great” smiled Bubba, “but the most awesome part of it was that the lady who paid for our lunch actually thanked us for what we do on our job….that meant so much to me, just for her to say that she appreciates us and what we do on our job…yeah, that was good.” Bell was quoted as part of a story posted about the credit union's efforts on GWD

Local Government Federal Credit Union employees across the state ate local, including four Raleigh restaurants the credit union chose to support. Several employees enjoyed a delicious meal at Irregardless Café. (See pictures in the below Storify slide show that were posted to LGFCU's Facebook page.)

League staff in Columbia, Raleigh and Kernersville also celebrated, heading to local eateries in each city. In addition, several other credit unions throughout both Carolinas celebrated the day and took to Twitter to share where they were eating and what they were doing. Credit unions here and throughout the country used the #CULunchLocal hashtag on Twitter, and shared photos on their Facebook pages.

(Editor's note: mouse over each of the elements in the above slide show to access the information posted by each credit union on Social Media.)

If your credit union participated in the day's events please feel free to share photos and accounts of your activities with Jeff Hardin, the League's director of cooperative initiatives.


Tags:  CU Lunch Local  Principle Seven 

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Guest Post: Jenn Moore recaps CUaware Protégé experience

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Updated: Monday, October 06, 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, Tarheel Chapter Protégé Jenn Moore of Local Government FCU shares her thoughts.) 

The CUaware Protégé competition was an experience that I will never forget. It’s funny; the leaders from credit unions across the Carolinas were eager to hear the presentations from the Protégé contestants and were comforted to know the credit union movement includes future leaders. We were just as excited to see the passion and excitement from the credit union leaders and mentors at the leadership conference.

I have worked for two additional credit unions; in New York and Pennsylvania, so when it came time to study for the test, it was a great opportunity to learn about the Carolinas credit union history. I learned about John Sprunt Hill and the uphill battle he endured to organize the first credit union in the Southern US and the two Clemson University professors who organized Clemson College Cooperative Credit Union. After a century, there are over 150 credit unions serving millions of people in the Carolinas … that is truly something to be proud of!

Networking with the other contestants was one of my favorite parts of the competition. Learning about: financial literacy from Jon Hamby; building trusting relationships with members and leaders from Micah Smith; creating a culture that is transparent for external and internal members from Corey Pace; the passion and kindness one can have when trying to find alternatives for struggling members from Hannah McGee; and sharing a common interest to encourage our generation to become future leaders with Josh McKenny. I also had the opportunity to network with two individuals that are very dedicated advocates for developing Generation Y; Troy Hall and Terry Harrington.

The Protégé experience didn’t stop at the conference! Since the conference, I have had the opportunity to talk with my mentor, Arlene Babwah from Coastal Federal Credit Union about our plan for the next year. I am looking forward to learning with Arlene, after one conversation it was easy to tell she is a compassionate leader. I have also been presented with the opportunity to join the CUaware Leadership Team for the Triangle and we are currently planning the next event.

This whole experience has been truly wonderful and one that I could not have had without the support of my LGFCU family and my husband and for that I am so thankful. I love what the credit union movement stands for – the philosophy, principles, and meaning behind it. I am happy to have found a home at a credit union which exemplifies all of the above and I am looking forward to supporting the movement for years to come.


Jenn is native of the state of New York who graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing. She is currently pursuing her masters in Instructional Technology Management from La Salle University. A member of the Local Government FCU team as of this year, Jenn has long-term aspirations to serve as chief operations officer for a credit union.

Jenn values the sense of community purpose and involvement that credit unions promote. To read more about Jenn, please click here.

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Principle Seven: CU Lunch Local is next week!

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, October 06, 2014
Updated: Thursday, October 02, 2014

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

“Champion Credit Union has been and always will
be a supporter of our local communities,” says Mike
Clayton, President of Champion Credit Union.
“CU Lunch Local is a great way for us to show that
support, as well as encourage our members and
others from the community to participate as well.”

CU Lunch Local is this coming Tuesday, October 14! The event gives credit unions a chance to support local businesses in a coordinated and fun way. CU Lunch Local also shines a spotlight on credit unions as community-owned and community-based financial institutions.

Credit unions in both Carolinas have finalized their plans to participate.

South Carolina Federal Credit Union will be using the "pay it forward" approach, with staff members purchasing lunch for customers at local restaurants. Meredith Siemens, the credit union's Executive Director of PR & Communications, notes that in addition to buying lunch for others, the credit union encourages all staff to dine out that day and that employees sharing their receipts will be entered into a prize drawing.

South Carolina Federal is also hosting a food truck rodeo in the parking lot of its headquarters, on Rivers Avenue, in North Charleston, and inviting nearby credit unions to spread the word with staff & members. The credit union also plans to raise awareness of the event through its relationship with community group, Lowcountry Local First.

Western NC's Champion Credit Union is encouraging staff and members to dine out locally by posting a flier in all its branches as well as its online media channels. Members who bring a receipt to the credit union will be entered in to a drawing for a gift certificate. The credit union also sent out a press release announcing the event.   

Local Government Federal Credit Union plans events at four area restaurants in the Triangle area. In addition, LGFCU Membership Development Officers who work throughout North Carolina will be participating.

Coastal Federal Credit Union is using the event to engage its employees and members by asking them which local spots people should head to grab a great meal and support local businesses. Coastal's Spokesman, Joe Mecca, notes that thus far 14 restaurants, including five that are run by members, have agreed to be spotlighted in Coastal's CU Lunch Local communications.

Employees at Welcome Federal Credit Union in the Research Triangle Park will be dropping in on some nearby eateries to surprise diners. President/CEO Cynthia Jenkins shared that employees will be buying lunch for customers.   

 VITAL Federal Credit Union in Spartanburg also plans to surprise some lucky customers at an eatery next door to its headquarters by purchasing their lunch. "We've been a part of the Spartanburg community for 50 years," said VITAL President/CEO Pat West, "and we like to support the community that supports us every chance we get."

Mountain Credit Union in the Asheville area is giving employees at its branch locations an opportunity to choose their dining spots. Staff will recap their dining experiences with Mountain CU Business Development Director Chris Angel, who will compile them in an email to all staff.

If your credit union would like to get involved with CU Lunch Local, it is not too late! A brief informational flier and resource links about CU Lunch Local is provided here. If your credit union would like more information or plans to participate in CU Lunch Local, please contact Jeff Hardin, the League's liaison for CU Lunch Local, at 919-457-9063 or

Tags:  Coastal FCU  CU Lunch Local  Local Government FCU  Mountain CU  Principle Seven  VITAL FCU  Welcome FCU 

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Principle One: NE Greensboro residents say "We Want A Co-op!"

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, October 06, 2014
Updated: Thursday, October 02, 2014

Principle One: 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, they are committed to investing in the community. 

Frustrated by a lack of a grocery store in their community, residents of Northeast Greensboro are using the co-op model to organize and open a grocery. The Renaissance Community Co-op is currently signing up members in hopes of capitalizing and opening the store on Phillips Avenue. 

The RCC produced a powerful video titled "We Want A Co-op!" to raise awareness in the community about the membership drive, and as a tool to rally the community around the cooperative's efforts. The video uses the theme of community ownership, investment and leaving a legacy through a series of statements from members of co-op and their families.

Northeast Greensboro has been without a grocery store since 1998, and efforts to attract a for-profit food store have not succeeded in the years since. For more information on RCC, please visit their web site.

Tags:  Principle Five  Principle One  Principle Seven  Renaissance Community Co-op 

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