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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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Cesar Ruales-Ortiz selected North Piedmont Chapter CUaware Protégé

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cesar Ruales-Ortiz, an Acclaim FCU member service representative, has been named the CUaware Protégé for the North Piedmont Chapter. Ruales-Ortiz will compete in the CUaware Protégé Finals Competition in October.

The 26-year-old Ruales-Ortiz joined the team at Acclaim in 2014. He holds degrees in theater and communications from UNC-Greensboro. 

Ruales-Ortiz says his generation stands to benefit from credit unions, since many have been impacted by the Great Recession. "When it comes to credit union service, and more specifically, my service, I wish to help spread knowledge and assist those who feel compromised by the current banking system," he says. 

His focus is on continuing to learn about credit unions, and he seeks a longer-term position as a loan officer at Acclaim. "My focus is primarily on outreach, so that I can bring in members from all walks of life and offer them a better deal than the one they might be getting." 

Ruales-Ortiz enjoys playing the guitar in his spare time as well as hiking, music composition, writing and spending time with his family. He is a native of New Jersey. 

Six more chapters are slated to hold their CUaware Protégé Competitions in the weeks ahead. Click here to see the complete list and schedule. The CUaware Protégé Finals Competition will be held during the MACCU 2016 Fall Conference in Asheville in October.   

Tags:  CUaware Protégé 

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Coastal FCU's Curtis, Vaughan earn CUDE designation

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Saturday, June 04, 2016
Updated: Friday, June 03, 2016

Forty-seven credit union professionals became Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) after being guided by dedicated program facilitators and mentors through the intensive Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training from the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation). The DE training was held May 18-25, 2016 at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

Valerie Curtis & Leslie Vaughan of Coastal FCU earned their DE designation and joined the growing ranks of the Carolinas CUDE Network. A total of 83 credit union professionals from the two Carolinas hold the DE designation.

DE Training provides critical lessons in cooperative principles, credit union philosophy and international development issues while incorporating challenges credit unions face today. During the recent week-long program, participants were involved in group exercises, field trips, discussions with speakers from around the credit union system, and are required to complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations in any given area. Class members prepared final case studies, which included working through and presenting solutions to critical issues including student loan debt, board development and recruiting including the debate over compensation, as well as building microfinance programs in developing countries, credit union solutions to predatory lending, the increasing issue of homelessness in America, and rejuvenating a stagnant credit union.

Due to increased demand, the Foundation added a fourth DE Training session this year to take place in November. Additionally, the September 14-21 and November 2-9 sessions, both occurring in Madison, are already sold out. If you are interested in 2017 DE Trainings, visit to learn more or you can email to be put on a notification list for when registration opens up.

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Western Chapter raises $10,000 for Meals on Wheels

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, June 03, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Credit unions work for the sustainable development of communities through policies developed and accepted by the members. Credit unions seek to achieve a greater good through responsible corporate citizenship.

The Western Chapter spent a glorious May afternoon golfing, and raised $10,000 in support of Meals on Wheels programs in six western North Carolina counties in the process! The event happened May 13 at the beautiful Cummings Cove Golf Course near Hendersonville.

This is the second such event for the chapter, and this year's tournament brought sunny skies and 70 degree weather. A total of 23 teams played in the tournament and the chapter volunteers added to the fundraising total through sponsorships from a variety of credit union organizations and local businesses. 

The chapter decided to support Meals on Wheels following a presentation by Wendy Lou Billings of the Council on Aging for Henderson County. Billings spoke about the issue of homebound seniors and hunger in western North Carolina at a chapter event early in the year.

The chapter board met later in May to allocate the funds raised to Meals on Wheels programs in six area counties where chapter credit unions are located. The funds will directly support efforts to provide meals to seniors in counties throughout the region.   

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Registration opens for 2016 Principles & Philosophy Conference

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Pictured: the 2015 Principles & Philosophy Conference class & support staff.

Registration is now open for the 2016 Principles & Philosophy Conference, to be held October 18-20 at the Caraway Conference Center in Sophia, NC. The conference is a "deep dive” into the Seven Cooperative Principles, as well as the social purpose of co-ops and credit unions. Attendees leave with a greater understanding of just how special credit unions are, and how the Seven Cooperative Principles are at heart good business practices.

The conference is a volunteer effort of the Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) in North Carolina & South Carolina. Working in partnership with the Carolinas Credit Union League, CUDEs have educated and inspired more than 200 credit union staff since 2010 about the core principles of credit unions and co-ops.  

The Principles & Philosophy Conference appeals to a wide range of professionals, including:
  • Young professionals who wish to learn more about credit unions.
  • More seasoned professionals who have come to credit unions from banks and other industries.
  • Longtime credit union employees who wish to deepen their appreciation for the uniqueness of credit unions.

Scholarships are available to attend for staff and volunteers at credit unions of $125 million and under in assets. Please click here to view and download the application form.

For registration information and more details, please click here to access the registration page. For more information about the conference, please contact Jeff Hardin at 919-457-9063.

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Giving back: CUaware Midlands builds birdhouses for local children’s hospitals through Reach

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Principle Six: Cooperation among cooperatives. Credit unions serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative principles by working with other cooperatives through local, state, regional, national, and international structures.

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Credit unions work for the sustainable development of communities through policies developed and accepted by the members. Credit unions seek to achieve a greater good through responsible corporate citizenship.

The Midlands chapter of CUaware recently partnered with the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation for a workshop social to benefit Victory Junction and its Reach program. The event took place at the League’s headquarters in Irmo, SC, on May 5. During the event, attendees from several area credit unions as well as representatives of the League gathered together for a night of fun, fellowship, and support of this great community initiative. Attendees worked collaboratively - in true cooperative spirit - to build wooden birdhouses for patients at local children’s hospital served by the Reach program. Children will soon enjoy painting the birdhouses during Reach team visits.

Jonathan Lemmon, the Reach Program Director at Victory Junction was in attendance to direct the CUaware attendees and talk more extensively about the program. "Reach, just like our camp program at Victory Junction, provides these children in the hospitals with experiences that they would not have otherwise. It's never about the craft we create or the game we play, but the interactions with the Reach team ... the friendly face of positivity that we can give them. Children in hospitals and their families have enough to worry about. We can't change why they are there, but we can put a smile on their face,” noted Lemmon. “That is what Reach is all about ... the smiles".

Lauren Whaley, Carolinas Credit Union Foundation President, has announced that the night raised a grand total of $385 that will go directly towards the Reach program and carrying out its wonderful mission in every corner of the Carolinas.

“For the Midlands chapter of CUaware, this was the first event that focused primarily on being involved in carrying out our cooperative philosophy for the benefit of the community, and participants responded very positively to the opportunity and to partnering with the Foundation for credit unions,” comments Zach DeMoya, CUaware’s volunteer coordinator and Account Services Representative for Palmetto Citizens CU. “The hope is that through each future endeavor, Columbia-area credit union team members will become more-and-more aware and apt to make the same cooperative difference outside the walls of the individual credit unions they represent.”

More About Reach

Learn more about REACH and how you can get involved in this video

The Reach Team members are specially trained staff that work closely with the hospital’s “Child Life” team to develop an activity plan specifically designed for the individual facility to enhance and support the existing pediatric program. This hands-on approach includes room-to-room visits as well as a “Camp Day” format. Each Reach activity is carefully designed to meet the specific needs and abilities of each child. Visits by the Reach Team help reduce the stress of a hospital stay with creative and age-appropriate camp fun including painting, wood working, song writing, crafts, puppetry, games and many more exciting and creative activities.

The impact this program has on the lives of children in the Carolinas as well as their families speaks to the heart of the Foundation’s mission, which is to enrich the lives of children. The success in 2015 was remarkable with close to 4,200 children experiencing the Reach program.

Tags:  CUaware  Principle Seven  Principle Six 

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