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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 Lowcountry picks Protégé, holds expert panel

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In addition to the networking event and panel discussion, the Lowcountry
Council of CUaware also held its Protégé Competition, featuring (from left)
Sean Crowley, Patrick Deming and Akira Jacobs. Jacobs, of South Carolina
Federal Credit Union, won the competition and will compete in the CUaware
Protégé  Finals in October.

More than 40 credit union professionals gathered in North Charleston Wednesday evening, July 15 for the CUaware Lowcountry Council meeting. The fast-paced meeting featured a networking opportunity for attendees, plus a panel of local credit union experts.

The meeting kicked off with the Council's CUaware Protégé Competition. Three contestants, all from South Carolina Federal Credit Union, gave a five minute presentation on a credit union topic they each selected. In the end, Akira Jacobs, SC Federal's insurance, investment and benefits coordinator was selected by the judges. Jacobs will now advance to the CUaware Protégé Final Competition at the Leadership Conference in Pinehurst in October.  

The panel discussion featured four local experts talking about various initiatives underway at their credit union. Nise Lowell of Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union shared details about student-run credit unions that Heritage Trust is opening at two local high schools. The credit union hired sixteen area high school students to run the two branches, which will open for business in August.

Bonnie Ciuffo of SC Federal updated the attendees on the credit union's foundation and its impact on staff philanthropy & community involvement. The South Carolina Federal Credit Union Foundation supports a variety of organizations, including the American Red Cross, Lowcountry Food Bank and Eagle Harbor Ranch. 

Claudette Smith, the manager of CO Federal Credit Union shared a personal account of what lead her to assume the leadership role at the credit union 14 years ago, and the impact CO FCU is having on the local community. Civil Rights Leader Esau Jenkins helped found CO and several other cooperative enterprises during the 1950s and 1960s. The credit union continues to honor its founding purpose,by providing financial services to members who have had a hard time accessing affordable credit. Smith also praised the efforts of Heritage Trust in helping the smaller CO FCU stay ahead of the curve on key regulatory and compliance issues.

The panel also featured Troy Hall of South Carolina Federal discussing something he is passionate about - leadership development. Hall noted the credit union's approach to providing a stimulating and rewarding professional atmosphere to employees. He also challenged more seasoned attendees to "pour into someone" who is just starting their credit union careers by becoming a mentor

In addition to the credit unions participating in the Protégé Competition and panel discussion, Latitude 32 FCU and CPM FCU also attended the meeting and contributed to the success of the 30 minute networking session. The Lowcountry Council will next meet in the fourth quarter with its annual Legislative Advocacy Day. This event connects credit union employees with their elected leaders in Columbia and Washington, DC. More details on this event are coming soon!       

Tags:  CUaware  CUaware Protégé 

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CUaware Lowcountry to spotlight local experts, Protégés

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, June 26, 2015

The Lowcountry Chapter of CUaware is gearing up to present a CUaware "Experts in the Area" social event. The event will help credit union staff gain insights from some of the Lowcountry's very own great credit union minds and spend one-on-one time with other rising credit union professionals.

The event takes place July 15 from 6:00 until 8:00 pm at the Crowne Plaza in North Charleston (4831 Tanger Outlet Blvd). Along with networking with your local credit union peers and hearing from a panel of credit union experts, the chapter will also host its CUaware Protégé Competition.

The Protégé Competition will spotlight the Lowcountry's emerging credit union professionals. Each Protégé candidate will take a written test and give an oral presentation about a credit union topic. The winner will go represent the Lowcountry in a competition to become the 2015 CUaware Protégé! 

The experts panel will discuss leadership, community impact, education and the co-op model in the Lowcountry. All told it will be a fun, educational and engaging event for credit union employees of all ages!  

If you'd like to go, please click here to make your reservation. Tickets are $5 and due at the door. If you have any questions, please contact Stephanie Ownby or Corey Pace.

Tags:  CUaware  CUaware Protégé 

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CUaware Lowcountry volunteers at local shelter

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lowcountry credit unions joined forces to volunteer at Eagle Harbor
Ranch in Summerville May 12. Volunteers painted and assembled a
horse fence at the shelter for young people.

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

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

More than 20 credit union volunteers from Lowcountry credit unions joined forces to volunteer at Eagle Harbor Ranch on May 12. The project, which included painting and updating the Eagle Harbor facilities, is part of CUaware's focus on volunteerism this month.

"We had a great turnout and accomplished a lot during our time together," shared CUaware Lowcountry Council Member Stephanie Ownby (South Carolina FCU). "It was great to be able to showcase our cooperative spirit for such a wonderful organization."

In addition to painting the barn and house on the property, volunteers also assembled a horse fence. All told, credit union volunteers in the group each gave six hours of service to Eagle Harbor Ranch.  

Located in Summerville, Eagle Harbor Ranch’s mission is to “be a place of refuge and shelter for children ages 4 to 21 who are orphaned, neglected, abused and abandoned. It is the organization's desire to empower each child to rise above their past through love, structure and an opportunity to succeed in life.”

In addition to rolling up their sleeves and assisting Eagle Harbor with painting and other touch-up projects, other credit unions and credit union professionals unable to attend the event donated needed items to the organization. The Lowcountry Council will next hold a networking and social event over the summer. For more information on how you can get involved, please contact Stephanie Ownby.    

Tags:  CUaware  Principle Seven  Principle Six 

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CUaware spotlights volunteerism with May events

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, May 08, 2015
Updated: Friday, May 08, 2015

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

Following a successful series of educational events held across the Carolinas in January, CUaware plans to spotlight volunteerism in the month of May! Councils in both Carolinas are putting the final touches on what is sure to be a memorable set of events.

On May 12, the Lowcountry heads to the Eagle Harbor Ranch for a Community Give Back. Credit unions across the Lowcountry plan to combine forces to do a variety of terrific projects to benefit Eagle Harbor, a place of refuge and shelter for children ages 4 to 21 who are orphaned, neglected, abused and abandoned. It is their desire to empower each child to rise above their past through love, structure and an opportunity to succeed in life. Event details are available here.    

On May 19, the Triad CUaware Council will host a lunch & learn spotlighting the reasons why credit unions give back to their communities. The session takes place at Truliant Pavilion (3200 Truliant Way in Winston-Salem) from 11:30 am - 1:00 pm.

The event opens with credit union staff in attendance sharing what volunteer and community service projects their credit unions support and why. Guest speaker Mark Curran (Lion's Share FCU CEO) will then talk about the credit union's community involvement. The event continues with Carolinas CU Foundation CEO John McGrail introducing the Foundation's latest project with Victory Junction - Reach

Lunch will be provided and there is no charge to attend. The Triad Council's May event will be followed by a group volunteer project over the summer. Please contact Laura Engle for more information or to register. Deadline to register is May 18.

On May 26, the Pee Dee Council plans a spotlight on volunteerism. Details are still being developed as of this writing. Please contact Will Crosswell for more information, or you may RSVP by clicking here

SAVE THE DATE! On May 28, the Triangle Council will host an evening event at Mia Francesca Trattoria. The event will celebrate CUaware's four year anniversary, be an opportunity to hear more about upcoming volunteer events, and hear the timeline for selecting the CUaware Protégé for the chapter. Please direct questions to Brandon McAdams.

Tags:  CUaware  Principle Seven 

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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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