Credit Unions doing good amid the pandemic
In the Mountain West region, which includes Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming, credit unions have shifted into high gear to help not only their members, but their greater communities. Because the shut down and shelter-in-place orders have impacted numerous local businesses, essential workers and credit union members and employees, Mountain West member credit unions have developed unique and impactful ways of helping others. Here are just a few examples:
- Casa Grande, AZ-based Pinal County Federal Credit Union (PCFCU) has been purchasing meals from local restaurants once a week for its staff to boost morale, along with staff spirit week, pictures and shout outs to engage remote workers. Employees have decorated branch drive thrus to encourage and support members during this time. PCFCU is doing gift card give-a-ways to local restaurants through social media to further support local businesses. PCFCU has pro-actively reached out to members who had been laid off, business account holders, as well as members over 60 years of age to discuss multiple ways they can be assisted by either restructuring their loan or waiving loan fees. Limited lobby access has meant more phone calls, so PCFCU expanded their call center and online access. PCFCU is making every effort to keep members informed of scams, resources and of opportunities where the credit union can help through the use of social media, email and their website.
- Denver, CO-based Westerra Credit Union created the Yes, Denver, We’re Open website where small, locally-owned businesses can complete a short questionnaire about their business – and Westerra then creates a social media campaign by sharing a post about their business with the credit union’s 125,000 members and social media followers. Westerra is putting its own marketing dollars behind boosting the Facebook posts in the targeted areas where the businesses are located. Yes, Denver, We’re Open also provides a tool kit for the small business with signs, graphics and social media templates for getting the word out that they are open for business.
- Colorado Springs, CO-based Ent Credit Union is asking people across Colorado to nominate any worthy Front Range small business for a cash infusion. Anyone can nominate their favorite (non-franchise) independently-owned, local business which is within the 14 counties Ent serves, via the credit union’s Facebook page. Twenty semi-finalists will be randomly selected from all nominations and from this group a panel of Ent judges will select four finalists. The public will then be invited to vote for their favorite business. Prizes will be awarded per Facebook vote totals: $20,000 – First place; $15,000 – Second place; $10,000 – Third place; and $5,000 – Fourth place.
- Tucson, AZ-based –Tucson Federal Credit Union (TCFU) has donated a total of $65,000 to four local nonprofit groups in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. With an increase in food requests from those in need, TFCU will gift $20,000 to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, to continue providing emergency food to the community. TFCU will also gift $15,000 to Old Pueblo Community Services, supporting programs for those who’ve been incarcerated so that they can make a successful transition to becoming contributing members to society. Another $15,000 will be gifted to Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse, to provide support and services to individuals experiencing domestic abuse. And $15,000 to the Children’s Clinics’ Comprehensive Services For Children And Teens, to provide primary care services and more for families.
- Members of Boulder, CO-based Elevations Credit Union have donated $75,000 to assist those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The credit union has matched those donations for a total of $150,000 that will be granted through the Elevations Community Relief Fund.
- Cheyenne, WY-based Blue Federal Credit Union made a difference for healthcare professionals and first responders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the communities they serve. Blue delivered over 700 COVID Survival Kits to these professionals throughout Wyoming and Colorado. Blue recognizes what a huge impact these professionals have in our communities and have focused on spreading their mission of doing good and changing lives during these unprecedented times.
- Tempe, AZ-based Landings Credit Union has been purchasing meals in local restaurants for its staff who are working hard to serve members during the pandemic. The gesture not only boosts the morale of the credit union’s employees, but it is a great way to support and promote local businesses trying to survive in this unusual climate.
- Centennial, CO-based Columbine Federal Credit Union wanted to make an impact in the local communities so heavily impacted with closures and scaled back services. Each team member was given a $50 bill and asked to spend it at a local merchant/restaurant etc. Team members then took photos at the local businesses when they made their purchases which turned into a popular social media campaign highlighting the local business. The program not only helped local businesses, but helped the credit union’s team members and their families as well.
- Phoenix, AZ-based OneAZ Credit Union and OneAZ Community Foundation will award $200,000 in emergency COVID-19 Community Impact Grants. The goal is to provide emergency funding for nonprofit organizations that serve one or more of OneAZ’s five key community focus areas, including (1) children’s health, (2) food banks, (3) financial literacy, (4) military, veterans’ and first responders’ interests, and (5) local youth programs. Grants will be awarded in $2,000 increments with applications reviewed weekly until all $200,000 is awarded or May 1, 2020, whichever comes first.
- NuVista CU in Montrose just started a program to pay their members’ utility bills (https://www.nuvista.org/News/Utility-Assistance-Needed). If members submit copies of their bills and fill out an application, NuVista will pay them off. Not a loan, just some assistance. They also applied for the NCUA grant and if they receive it, will apply those funds to the payoff pool.
- Northern Colorado CU reached out to ALL their members over 60 years old who aren’t on mobile banking. Staff talked with them, gave them instructions on how to bank without a lobby to visit and even provided a direct number to call in order to avoid scammers. As you can imagine, these phone calls were VERY well received.
- Community Choice Credit Union is the process of looking at several different ways to help members directly. We put a notice on social media and email blast to get in contact with us via email about how they have been impacted by Covid-19. Something that has been helpful is offering a special request to skip payments on their vehicle loans so members have money for groceries, utilities, etc. We are also reaching out to some of our small business restaurants to see if they have food boxes to deliver to our members in need.
- Fitzsimons CU has partnered with a local food vendor and is providing coffee to first responders at the CU Medical Center which includes University Hospital, Children’s Hospital and the VA Hospital. They are also providing no credit check, no questions asked personal loans to members for up to $2000.
- Canvas Credit Union has done a myriad of things helping both members and employees, including a Helping Hands Loan, Loan Payment Deferrals, Business/Commercial Loan Payment Deferrals, added Content to Support People: Our Podcast, our new video series & more. They are hosting virtual financial education sessions with community partners. Currently,they have about 20 financial classes that we can present, including topics such as: “Protecting yourself financially during a pandemic“ and “Protecting your credit during the coronavirus outbreak.” They are collecting donations through our Canvas Foundation from members visiting our drive-ups. Donations from our Fort Collins, Windsor, and Loveland branches will go to the Larimer County Food Bank. Donations that come in through the Brighton, Thornton, Aurora, Evans, Parker and Littleton branches will go to Food Bank of the Rockies. Also:
- We are making blankets, knitting, crocheting, making toy cars, writing get well soon cards, and preparing hygiene kits (items for cancer patients and kids at Children’s Hospital).
- We have a group of volunteers with sewing skills making DIY surgical masks for medical professionals to use. We are also seeking donations consisting of pillowcases, cotton t-shirts, corded elastic and flannel to use as materials for making these masks.
- Our family members kiddos are writing short thank you notes and drawing pictures (to include with the masks) for the medical professionals working hard to keep us safe and healthy.