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Washington Credit Unions are Ready to Help Members if Government Shuts Down - 06/26/17

SEATAC, WA; --If the Washington Legislature fails to reach a budget agreement by June 30, the state government will partially shut down. That could create financial hardship for the 32,000 state employees who will be laid off, and for thousands of other consumers who rely on some state services that will be suspended.
Many Washington credit unions have options in place to help their members who would be impacted.

"As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions have a rich history of helping their members navigate through the opportunities and challenges of life's journeys," said Troy Stang, President and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). "It is during difficult times such as government shutdowns and other emergencies that the cooperative financial services model shines through."

Standing Beside Members is What Credit Unions Do

Because credit unions are local, member-owned cooperatives, and not-for-profit, they focus on putting their members' needs first, in good times and during emergencies, Stang noted. Services many Washington credit unions are preparing to offer in the event of a state government shutdown include short-term loans to cover payroll gaps, options to skip loan payments, and financial counseling. An example of such member services is posted on the Washington State Employees Credit Union website as well as on the O Bee Credit Union website.

Stang recommends state employees and other consumers who could be impacted by a state shutdown contact their credit unions in advance, to learn more about services that could be available.

The Northwest Credit Union Association is the not-for-profit trade association representing over 180 credit unions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Credit unions are not-for-profit, cooperative financial services providers, owned by the members using their services. Credit unions do not pay stockholders on Wall Street. Instead they return all earnings in excess of expenses and required reserves back to their members in the form of lower fees, better loan rates, higher yields on savings, and other services. More than six million Northwest consumers are credit union members. For information on how to join a credit union, please visit http://www.asmarterchoice.org.

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Rexburg Credit Union Leader Takes Financial Well-Being Mission to Eastern Europe (Photo) - 05/30/17

Shane Berger is helping credit unions in Moldova to modernize financial services in an economically challenged country

REXBURG, ID -- Nearly 6,000 miles separate Beehive Federal Credit Union in Rexburg, Idaho from the Republic of Moldova in Eastern Europe. The uniting factor is the difference credit unions make improving people's financial well-being.

You might say Beehive FCU President/CEO Shane Berger is a man on a mission. He wants Moldova's consumers to have access to the same benefits America's credit union members are receiving--including technology giving them access to their accounts, lower interest loans, and insurance on their deposits. Those services are not fully available in all of Moldova's credit unions, which they call Savings and Credit Associations (SCAs). Moldova is situated between Romania and Ukraine, and became a republic only 26 years ago when it gained independence from the former Soviet Union. The young nation's financial services industry is still developing.
Last month, Berger made the 5,679-mile journey to Moldova--his third pilgrimage in recent years to help SCA leaders grow their services. He's serving as both a financial services expert, and an ambassador for the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), which is facilitating the partnership.

"In almost all of the cities and villages throughout Moldova, the citizens either have no access to financial institutions, or are limited to banks and money lenders who charge exorbitant rates of interest," Berger noted. "I have hope that through cooperatives like SCAs, more and more individuals in those communities will be served with reasonably priced financial services."

Berger is seeing the mission bear fruit. Blueprints have been drawn for the republic's first SCA to be built from the ground up, based on lessons learned from the Board Chair's tour of many Idaho credit union branches last year. After Berger's last visit, Moldovan SCA leaders asked for more information about safe and secure payment systems for their members. As a result, Berger brought a technology expert with him on his most recent trip to Moldova.

"The big picture objective of our visit to Moldova is to bless the lives of individuals and families living in villages and cities throughout Moldova," Berger said. "Not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperatives are critical as they provide an affordable alternative to all people, but especially those of modest means. Our ability to impact the financial lives of Moldovans in a positive way has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."

Editor's note: Berger would be pleased to share photos, insight, and many compelling stories about his work in Moldova with your reporters. Please contact: Shane Berger by emailing sberger@bhive.org or by calling (208) 656-1011.




The Northwest Credit Union Association is the not-for-profit trade association representing over 180 credit unions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and their 6 million consumer members. Credit unions are not-for-profit, cooperative financial services providers, owned by the members using their services. Credit unions do not pay stockholders on Wall Street. Instead they return all earnings in excess of expenses and required reserves back to their members in the form of lower fees, better loan rates, higher yields on savings, and other services. More than six million Northwest consumers are credit union members. For information on how to join a credit union, please visit http://www.asmarterchoice.org.