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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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CUaware to hold first meeting in Columbia January 12

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, December 04, 2015
Updated: Friday, December 04, 2015

Zach DeMoya (Palmetto Citizens FCU), the 2015
Columbia Chapter CUaware Protégé, is
organizing the January event in Columbia.

If you live and work in the Columbia area, circle January 12 on your calendar and make plans to attend the first-ever CUaware meeting in the Midlands. The event takes place beginning at 6:15 pm at Jillians of Columbia (800 Gervais Street).

CUaware is a council with the Carolinas Credit Union League created to fill a gap that exists within the credit union industry: the very people that work in credit unions don’t know they work for the best kept secret! CUaware aims to informally introduce all levels of credit union employees (and industry folks) to the CU Movement.

Zach DeMoya of Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union, the 2015 Columbia Chapter CUaware Protégé, is organizing the event. It is intended to be a relaxing evening of networking, but with a longer-term goal of engaging credit union employees with the broader community. "We hope to use our strength in numbers to work on volunteer projects together, hear from guest speakers that offer different perspectives than we typically hear in our credit unions, and learn how we can work together to help everyone in the community realize their financial potential," DeMoya said.

If your 2016 goals include having a greater impact in your credit union career, make plans to join your friends at this event! For more information, please contact Zach DeMoya

Tags:  CUaware 

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CUaware Triangle volunteers for Habitat for Humanity

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, November 30, 2015
Updated: Monday, November 30, 2015

Many people call the holidays the Season of Giving, and for credit unions it is an opportunity to give thanks by giving back to the community. Ten volunteers with the Triangle CUaware group kicked off the Season of Giving in style by rolling up their sleeves and working on a Habitat for Humanity home in south Raleigh.

The day-long volunteer initiative took place on Saturday, November 21. The CUaware group worked with a Habitat for Humanity employee on-site to assist in the construction of a home. The volunteers did general work including caulking, sealing off the attic and installing vinyl siding.

"Volunteering at Habitat truly opened my eyes," shared Sara Portis (Coastal FCU), who helped to coordinate the volunteer event on behalf of CUaware. "It was wonderful to meet the home owner, hear his story, help him build a new future, and to top it off, learn some home building skills. It's a cause I think everyone should support," Portis said.

After a productive day working on the home, the volunteers helped clean up the site and secure all the tools and building materials. The small home is expected to be completed in mid-December - just in time for he new homeowner to share the holidays with his family.   

Tags:  CUaware 

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Customized Cooperative Principles training available for credit union staff

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, November 20, 2015

The Seven Cooperative Principles form the basis for how credit unions operate. From the principles of member-ownership and democracy to the commitment to concern for community, the principles help credit union employees and volunteers understand the credit union's role in the financial services marketplace.

The League offers custom Seven Cooperative Principles training modules to credit unions in South Carolina and North Carolina. The training ranges from one hour to a full day depending upon the needs of your staff and/or directors, and can be developed to specifically address the history and role of your cooperative. 

"In 2015, the League provided Seven Cooperative Principles of varying lengths to more than 250 credit union employees in the Carolinas," shared Jeff Hardin, the director of cooperative initiatives, who facilitates the training events. "The League is committed to providing this training because we strongly believe these principles differentiate credit unions in the marketplace."

The training is very affordable, with the cost of the training donated to a Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) Scholarship Fund at the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation. "This scholarship fund is used to send credit union staff members to the Principles & Philosophy Conference as well as the national CUDE program, so it's a great investment for not only your staff but the entire movement," said Hardin.

Please contact Jeff Hardin at (919) 457-9063 if you would like to learn more about these sessions or to schedule a training at your credit union in 2016. 

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Guest post: What I learned at the Principles & Philosophy Conference

Posted By Marcus Rhymer, Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Editor's note: Marcus Rhymer recently attended the 2015 Principles & Philosophy Conference as the CUaware Scholarship winner. Marcus recaps his experience and takeaways at the conference in this guest post.

This year I was given the opportunity to attend the 2015 Principles and Philosophy Conference in Greenville, South Carolina. This opportunity was provided to me through a scholarship by CUaware. Forty-four others from Carolina Credit Unions joined me for this engaging two day journey.

While this conference had many components of a traditional conference format, a few things differed. This conference became a deep dive into the foundation of the Credit Union Principles and Philosophies which included full engagement from all participants. Jeff Hardin of the Carolinas Credit Union League and Amy Gravitte from Coastal FCU, along with many others members of the core committee led the discussion. However, primarily smaller groups, seated at individual tables, shared their experiences and ideas to enhance our overall experience in world of Credit Union Principles and Philosophies.

My experience at the conference may have differed from others at this conference. I have been in the credit union industry for 15 years and attended this conference to get an idea as to how this could benefit our staff. The conference more than accomplished this. I found it especially beneficial for credit union employees who are new to the movement. Attendees will be fully immersed in the world of credit union principles and philosophy. It is also a great refresher for those of us who have been in the industry for some time. Here are ten takeaways from the 2015 Principles and Philosophy Conference:

10. Downtown Greenville is a wonderful city to host this conference. Even though we experienced abundant rain during our two day stay at the conference, it did not stop us from enjoying some excellent dining and some great views. We were very fortunate to have Greenville historian, John Nolan, give us the history and background of the city as well as the insights on the future of Greenville. The location of the hotel and conference center in relation to downtown dining and attractions makes this a very walk-able conference. Everything is convenient, rain or shine!

9. The Seven Cooperative Principles for Credit Unions: Personal Introductions and a discussion of each principle began our agenda. What are the seven principles? Are some more obvious than others? Can we still follow all seven principles in today’s environment? Can we manage these principles better? Each table was able to examine and discuss a particular principle in-depth and share the analysis with the group.

8. Hats, Wigs, and Mustaches: The core committee took our soon to be Credit Union Principles and Philosophy experts on a journey through time. The goal of this role-playing experiment was to take us through the history of cooperatives and credit unions. Where have we been and where are we going? Our movement has had many champions along the way: The Rochdale Weavers in England, an early cooperative founded in 1844; Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen, who founded the first rural credit union in Germany; and Alphonse Desjardins who started the first United States Credit Union in New Hampshire. Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Edward Filene, whose legacy still has a major footprint in American business; and Dora Maxwell, who unfathomably started 120 credit unions in six months, are among these pioneers on the Mount Rushmore of Credit Unions. They each had the vision and the passion to provide our movement with the inspiration to serve our members.

7. Thought Provocation: While understanding and respecting our history, our group posed a question early in this conference. Do we need to change? The credit union industry is changing based upon increasing regulatory concern, compliance, and many other factors. As a group, we wondered do we still need to embrace each and every principle? Can we embrace these principles and stay competitive? Do we need to modify any of these principles to fit today’s increased regulatory environment? We opted to continue our two day journey and re-address this important question after our agenda was complete.

6. The Foundation Remains: “People Helping People”. “Not for Profit but for Service”. The Credit Union philosophy remains the same. The principles that guided the Rochdale Weavers in 1844 are the same principles that we as financial cooperatives use today: Voluntary Membership, Democratic Member Control, Members’ Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence, Education-Training-and-Information, Cooperation Among Cooperatives, and Concern for Community. We must stay true to our principles. It is of utmost importance that our management teams and employees understand and practice these principles. These seven principles are what make us different! We must continue to differentiate ourselves to our members so they will understand why they chose us, why they trust us, and why it’s in their best interest to be part of a financial cooperative.

5. Challenges: We must overcome perceptions. Many potential members believe a credit union is not convenient. A credit union won’t have the products and services for my banking needs. I can’t join a credit union because of membership restrictions or SEG affiliation. These misconceptions must be addressed and overcome to increase our membership. We as credit unions know these potential member perceptions to be untrue. It’s up to us to inform our communities that we are convenient, we do offer everything they need, and they most likely can join our credit union! We must educate potential members on the benefits a being a member of a financial cooperative.

4. FaceTime: Our group had the opportunity for an enlightening FaceTime experience with Mike Beall, who is a political activist in the credit union movement. During our Face Time session, he shared many valuable experiences regarding credit union legislation through his years in the movement. He is passionate about working with credit unions.

3. Panel Discussion: The Movement is Worldwide, The Movement is Local: Being a history buff, I really enjoyed this session of the conference. Story Telling Time! Actually it was much more than that but this session had that kind of atmosphere. From our core committee, Terri Hendrix, Deb McLean, and Sandy Glasson shared their experiences from the beginning of their credit union careers until today. Terri Hendrix took us from Edinburgh, Scotland to Brazil and into Africa during her experiences abroad with the World Council of Credit Unions. Deb McLean talked about her passion in helping the Latino community set up a safe place to save and borrow money. She discussed the obstacles she overcame in order to help the Latino community in North Carolina go through the process of setting up credit unions in a difficult regulatory environment. Sandy Glasson led us through her 37 year journey from a small Air Force Base credit union in Georgia to her current position at Coastal FCU in Raleigh, North Carolina. These discussions spanned the spectrum from the World Council all the way back to the member.

2. The Winds of Change: As we journeyed through the “Not for Profit, But for Service” learning map, we examined the past, present, and looked towards the future. The movement and changes are undoubtedly noticeable. During our past, many business entities were separate and stayed within their particular mission or scope of service. However, in today’s market, we have large banks, insurance companies, auto dealerships, and brokerage firms among others trying to do what we do. We also have large retailers such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Apple, and PayPal operating outside of a retail model and offering some type of products and services that credit unions and small community banks offer. Once we navigated this map, we of course learn that these challenges can be met through our operating principles. We just need to put these principles at the forefront of our future plan.

1. “The Onion It’s all about the Member: When we begin to peel back the layers of the Cooperation Among Cooperatives Onion, we will find that at the core is our membership. From the layers of the World Council, CUNA, State Leagues, Local Chapters, and the Credit Union; the very reason for every layer comes back to our members. Looking back at our initial thought provocation, one thing is crystal clear. While we must evolve with the changing environment, we certainly do not need to change our principles. In fact, credit unions must be even more engaged in practicing these principles to guide our financial cooperatives into the future. It’s what made us better in the beginning. It’s what will make us better in the future.

Marcus Rhymer serves as the indirect lending manager at Latitude 32 Credit Union in Charleston. He is a 2000 graduate of East Tennessee State University and is a Life Member of the ETSU Alumni Association. In addition to his role at the credit union, Marcus is a 2015 graduate of the Southeast CUNA Management School, is actively engaged with the local Lowcountry CUaware Council, and serves as the secretary of the Lowcountry Chapter of Credit Unions. Marcus and his wife Kristen have a four-year-old named Zach.

Tags:  CUaware 

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45 learn history, philosophy of credit unions

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, November 10, 2015
The 2015 attendees of the Principles & Philosophy Conference
represented 22 credit unions and CU organizations.

Credit union staff from both Carolinas learned about the history of co-ops and credit unions, and immersed themselves in their differentiating principles at the 2015 Principles & Philosophy Conference. The event, which took place in Greenville, SC November 1-3, attracted 45 attendees from 22 credit unions and credit union organizations.

The conference, now in its sixth year, is produced by a volunteer group of Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) working in partnership with the Carolinas Credit Union League. A core group of 12 CUDEs worked together on this year's conference, and made some programming changes and enhancements to the overall conference experience.

Participants kicked off the event with a memorable history segment featuring "credit union pioneers". CUDEs dressed as historical figures and read a series of personal accounts of the pioneer's actions in a first-person narrative. These engaging personal narratives included Alphonse Desjardins, Dora Maxwell, Edward Filene and Roy Bergengren among others. 

The recap of the credit union history included visits by credit union "pioneers" Roy Bergengren (Terri Hendrix), Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch (Toni Davisson), Dora Maxwell (Deb McLean), Friedrich Rafeissen (Brandon Pugh) and Alphonse Desjardins (Jeff Hardin).

"Sometimes we can get caught up in the timeline aspect of the history and focus attention on the results our credit union pioneers delivered," shared Jeff Hardin of the Carolinas Credit Union League. "Our purpose with the history narratives was to dwell on the motivations our credit union heroes had and the injustices they were trying to overcome. In this way, we hoped to humanize the pioneer's stories and encourage the attendees to consider the impact they might be able to make."

The conference continued with a deep dive into the Seven Cooperative Principles, and the attendees worked in small groups to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within each principle. One highlight included National Cooperative Business Association President/CEO Mike Beall doing a live Face Time presentation on the HR 1151 fight of nearly 20 years ago. Beall focused on the political context of the battle that re-shaped field of membership and Open & Voluntary Membership (Principle One) for credit unions.

The 45 attendees were broken up into smaller groups to allow for collaborative conversations about the principles. Each participant was encouraged to consider how they could take the message back home and use the principles as a springboard toward moving the cooperative and credit union movement forward.

"Overall we had a great, engaged group of professionals who were eager to learn more about the key differences that distinguish credit unions in the financial services marketplace," said Hardin. "All the CUDEs in the Carolinas look forward to seeing the impact these professionals will have on our movement."

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