DEs Embrace First "DE Day of Service"

To celebrate the first DE Day of Service - June 15, 2016 - Credit Union Development Educators (DEs) across the country (and world) worked individually and collectively to complete a project to improve the lives of others.

Here are some highlights:


In Nairobi, Kenya, DEs at ACCOSCA (African Confederation of Cooperative Savings & Credit Associations) visited and helped out at Happy Life Children’s Home, where they donated much needed supplies and met some of the children at the home.

Many miles away in Swaziland, George Ombado, ACCOSCA CEO (and CUDE), was engaged in a DE project to increase cooperative stakeholders where he met with MPs, senators and the Principal Secretary of Swaziland in one meeting and church leaders in another. Both meetings were highly successful with the former resulting with the Parliament Portfolio Committee of Swaziland agreeing to form a Parliamentary SACCO.


DEs Leah Friedenberg, Mia Martell, Pam Miley, and Karen Lee Nadal volunteered at Ben's Bells, a local non-profit organization. They painted Ben's Bells pieces that are handmade and spread randomly throughout the community as a reminder to practice intentional kindness. This organization's mission is to inspire one another to act with intentional kindness and strengthen the community, which ties in with the credit union movement's guiding principles. Leah also led a discussion around the cooperative principles at the morning team meeting at her credit union.

Also in Arizona, DEs Adrianne Rexus and Brian Lee held a water drive for the homeless and those in need. They involved their staff and members to bring in cases of water to any of our branch locations to donate to the local distribution in our communities on June 15. Other DE's from other credit unions in Arizona participated in the water drive and making donations to organizations in their local areas.

The water was donated to several community groups that serve as local hydration stations for the homeless, low income, children and elderly when temperatures reach 100+. Over the next few weeks, daytime temperatures are expected to exceed 110 and these hydration stations not only provide water but many also provide a cool place to get out of the heat so those in need can avoid heat related illness such as dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

DE Lisett Olsen worked with Alhambra Credit Union to hold a water drive to benefit the Phoenix Rescue Mission.


At SchoolsFirst FCU, DEs Marina Miller, Jim Hossfeld, Diana Kot, Josh Smith, and Shannon Workman packed 680 boxes of food at the OC Food Bank for their Food for Seniors Program. Each box contains a monthly food package and is distributed to multiple sites in Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside Counties.

The OC Food Bank works with charities, soup kitchens, and community organizations to help end hunger and malnutrition.

Also, the DEs collected canned/dry food from their Team members for donation. Overall, this activity tied in with the cooperative operating principle of social responsibility and ending hunger.


At Denver Community CU, DE Sarae Kurth and a colleague went to a local library (Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Library) to read aloud to elementary-aged kids about money, coins, and counting as part of Denver Public Library's Summer of Reading program.

They had a fun lesson afterwards counting coins they gave them and the kids got to decide how to distribute their money in savings boxes -- saving, spending, or donating. Most chose to save all their money which was very impressive.


The Cooperative Financial Literacy Initiative (formerly the reality fair foundation) held its strategic planning session to embrace a vision of financially capable consumers through credit unions.

Pictured here is: Courtney Moran (planning session facilitator and Cornerstone Foundation Executive Director), Jill Nowacki (CT Credit Union League President), Gerry Singleton (CUNA Mutual Group), Jay Hershman (Baillie & Hershman P.C.), Keith Wiemert (CEO Seasons FCU), Joanne Todd (CEO Northeast Family FCU), Carol Bayreuther (CEO of Hartford Healthcare FCU) and Hank Petroskey (Wepawaug-Flagg FCU board member).


In Orlando, DEs Juli Lewis, Timothy Cannon and Lisa Brown worked to spread the word about DE Training and raise money for the LSCU Foundation during the golf outing at the LSCU Annual Meeting.

DE Lois Kitsch worked to provide assistance to a local kindergarten teacher. The teacher has 18 students in her classroom and each year and spends 10% of her salary providing supplies and special treats for her students. We all know that teachers are not well paid, yet she sacrifices her earnings for her students to give them the best school experience that she can. She also works weekends and holidays preparing her lesson plans and fun and interactive learning sessions for her students. For Lois’ project, she completed one of her major tasks which is a reward system for her students’ academic accomplishments and great behavior. The project involved laminating and cutting out 1500 reward badges for the students for the 2016 school year.

In Tampa, Suncoast CU DEs completed an organizational donation drive for the Dress For Success Foundation which helps underserved, at-risk, and low-income women have a wonderful wardrobe for job interviewing.

In addition to the organization offering wardrobe, they also offer a career center where guest speakers provide additional education for women's empowerment, resume building, and employment retention strategies. The goals of the organization are in line with the credit union philosophy. Dress for Success aims to provide resources to help women obtain and sustain employment. They place focus on education while offering the opportunity to have a nice set of suits that not only restore dignity for the women they serve, but rebuilds self esteem when a person may be on the brink of giving up on life.

Suncoast CU DE Jeff Kunberger hosted a day of development and community. He talked about some credit union principles and collected travel-sized toiletry goods for area homeless. 24 local branch managers were in attendance to hear the talk about global and local development issues.

Also in Florida, Gigi Williams delivered coffee and doughnuts to credit union employees and participated in a bowling tournament. Both activities raised funds to support Junior Achievement.


SOCU DEs Dana Stillwell, Ryan Neumann, and Sonia Woosley came together to help raise funds for a member in need. Over $1,000.00 was collected from their employees in one day!


DE Helen Godfrey-Smith conducted a financial training seminar for 5-7 year olds and 8-12 year olds. She had 90 kids registered to attend and the location was in the Grambling, LA community where GSU is located. Helen gave one dollar incentives for each type of participation in the training, whether questions or answers to review questions. The closing event was a visit to the credit union where each child was encouraged to open an account and experience making a deposit using the money they had earned during the event. They made sure each child had about 3 dollars. They taught the power of making good choices and used the money smart age appropriate workshop materials for the seminar. Helen chose this activity because she said, “I realize that much of the financial failure in our market areas is about poor decisions not lack of income. I want to move the needle for the next generation toward BETTER CHOICES...TO GET BETTER CHANCES for success.”

Also in Louisiana, DE Lynette Hazelton volunteered at the Hope House of Central Louisiana spendomg time making crafts in the day care at the residency. The Hope House of Central Louisiana provides transitional housing for homeless women and their children, along with other services.


DE Mark Lynch - who is from Australia originally - made boomerangs for the May DE Training auction, which were very popular. Thus, Mark spent part of the DE Day of Service in his workshop making boomerangs for the Fall DE Training auction. Proceeds from the DE Auction provide scholarships to individuals who otherwise would not be able to attend the DE training program.

New Jersey

DE Lauretta Farrell at Affinity Federal Credit Union, celebrated on Monday, when her CU hosted the 19th annual Affinity Federal Credit Union Foundation Golf Invitational. They raised over $150,000 to support local grassroots charities that house the homeless, including men and women who served in the military; care for the sick, mentally ill, and those with Alzheimer’s; provide job training for the newly unemployed, high school dropouts and the disabled; and feed the hungry throughout their communities.

New Mexico

Inspired by last year's DE workshop project where CUDEs worked together to fundraise, assemble and deliver bicycles to kids in need, DEs at Guadalupe CU's goal was to raise money to purchase 10 bicycles with helmets for kids in Santa Fe. But, with the support of the Guadalupe Credit Union DEs, and the generosity of some of their vendors, local business owners, and the GCU staff, they were able to purchase 26 bikes! And, since more donations are coming in, they will be able to help even more kids in need!

They are going to give this bikes to kids in foster homes and summer school programs throughout northern New Mexico.

“The youth selected to receive bikes were identified by their teachers or advisors as improved performers,” said Diane Sandoval-Griego, GCU Financial Counseling Director. “As GCU’s mission is to provide financial empowerment and the importance of working towards goals, it’s very rewarding to be able to provide bikes for kids who have shown growth and improvement. One of the best moments during every ceremony was watching the kids hop on their bikes and start riding around immediately. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to provide change in our communities.”

North Carolina

Coastal does a great many things out in their community. In doing so,they are often touched by the generosity of employees, many of whom are in similar economic situations as the people they are so willing to help. Coastal believes it's every bit as important to take care of their employees as it is to take care of members. That is why they have launched a new Coastal Cares program, designed to help ensure employees' needs are being met, too.

The first act in a new Coastal Cares initiative, and to mark this year's CUDE day of service, Coastal's DEs coordinated a backpack giveaway for employees with school aged children. Throughout the first half of the year, various departments have been collecting supplies to help send our employees' children back to school ready to learn.

On Tuesday, DEs and managers gathered to sort all of the supplies and pack them into backpacks for the children. Then on Wednesday (June 15), VPs went out shopping to fill in any gaps in the supplies. Friday, employees with children were invited to come collect a bag for each child in their household. Backpacks were made available regardless of need.

The response was overwhelming. Within 20 minutes, all of the backpacks had been distributed.

In Chapel Hill, Carolinas CU League DEs Jeff Hardin and Geoff Finken donated and dropped off some wish list items for the local Ronald McDonald House.


DEs Julie Gee and Jeannie Fye at CSE FCU volunteered for meal prep at a local community organization, Samaritans Table (or Sam’s Table). Each week this group of volunteers preps and serves approximately 500 hot meals to their community. They really enjoyed talking with the volunteers and hearing their stories about how it all works, they all laughed and made Julie and Jeannie feel right at home.

They are run fully by volunteer and receive grant money and denotations from local grocery stores and the local food bank to provide good, hot meals each week. The cooks take great pride in their recipes and the quality of food that they are serving. Julie and Jeannie were happy to help shred about 150 lbs. of chicken to be used for future meals.


Maps CU DEs volunteered at Salems bike coop breaking down bikes so that they can recycle the parts and rebuild them for those who need reliable transportation.

South Carolina

DEs Latasha Cooper and Brandon Pugh volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbia. First, they carried in donations from fellow Carolinas Credit Union League staff, then got to work preparing baked goods to feed and comfort RMH guests.
Also, DEs Terri Hendrix (1993), Lisa Vandys (2014), and Jordan Rumsey (soon to be DE Class of 2016) worked with Karen Macherson, Salvation Army Staff (pictured 2nd from right) volunteered to serve meals at the Salvation Army of Greenville County.


Texas DEs Melissa Burleson, Andy Reed, Pamela Stephens, Joel Garcia, Bryce Farmer, Shelli McCoy, Kylie Giancotti, and other staff from Tarrant County's Credit Union and Texas People Federal Credit Union partnered with the Tarrant Area Food Bank and assisted in providing nutritious quality meals for individuals in the thirteen counties. They worked in the Quality Control area of the food bank where they inspected and sorted canned goods, snacks, milk, juice, fresh breads and produce.

The food insufficient in thirteen North Texas counties will benefit from the work done on June 15th. In a short three-hour period we were able to provide nutritious quality meals for more than 4,316 individuals. For those who will be receiving these meals it means one less time during the day to worry about hunger.
Also in Texas, UFCU DEs Heather McKissick and Michael Crowl facilitated a session for UFCU employees about the credit union Learning Map produced by the National Credit Union Foundation. It was a way to teach staff about the not-for-profit credit union movement and it's cooperative principles.

DEs at Resource One Credit Union spearheaded a canned food drive. The entire credit union had every employee donate canned goods. On average they had 10 cans per employee, with approximately 1,800 canned goods total donated. Resource One Credit Union donated all items to the North Texas Food Bank.


DEs Cathy Brorson, Kim Ingham and Jim Morrell from Kitsap Credit Union and Peninsula Credit Union joined forces and worked at the Bremerton Foodline creating Summer Kid's Bags.

These are bags full of peanut butter, jelly, fruit, juice and snacks to help ensure that children have nutritious food to help sustain them as they move into the summer months. These kids bags are supplemental to the families’ weekly food they receive.

Also in Washington, Twinstar CU DEs collected diapers and wet wipes for a local charity to help low income mothers have what they need for the health of the children. Additionally, they rode public buses and helped the organization poll their riders to better serve them. This helped the Lewis County/Centralia area because public transportation in this community really helps the mentally and physically disabled get to their appointments and run errands.

From TwinTransit:
"In a few short hours the Twinstar volunteers collected 108 total surveys—43 of which were collected digitally on tablet computers. It was wonderful to utilize the well-developed interpersonal skills of the TwinStar volunteers to help administer the survey in a non-biased format. The surveyors where able to ride buses and comfortably collect feedback and comments from passengers traveling to and from their destinations. Moreover, Kirk Smith, Employee Development Manager for TwinStar who helped organize the event is fluent in Spanish and was able to administer the survey to passengers who may have otherwise declined the survey in English. The timing of the survey was excellent as results will be tabulated and presented to the Twin Transit Board in July. Comments and findings collected from yesterday’s volunteers will help craft Twin Transit’s upcoming 2016-2020 Transit Development Plan which is intended to describe how bus service can be improved in the coming years."

At WSECU, DE Erin Pearson worked with the Chapter that she is on the board of and applied for a grant through the Northwest Credit Union Foundation for the charity they are supporting this year, Homeless Backbacks. They were awarded $1500 and after receiving the funds, they'll present them to Homeless Backpacks.

Homeless Backpacks benefited by receiving funds they can use to purchase food supplies to include in the bags they handout to homeless youth through the summer. This is the first year they will run their program during the summer and the Evergreen Chapter Board thought they may not have the normal levels of donations they receive during the school year.

Washington, DC

At the CUNA DC office, DC Development Educators – Gigi Hyland, Richard Dines, Alicia Erb, Vicki Christner and Ryan Donovan – hosted a one-hour Principles and Philosophy session.

The session focused on helping staff understand that credit union difference, exploring the “why” that drives credit union service to members. The DEs worked to help staff also better understand what credit unions face every day so they can help them be even more successful through advocacy, communications and thought-leadership work.

On June 18th nearly 45 credit union people representing over 20 different credit unions throughout the Baltimore/DC metropolitan area volunteered to assist with the Financial Reality Fair at the DC Metropolitan Police Department Youth and Family Service Division. Kids from modest mean to low income of the city came together to participate in the event. While well over 100 kids were expected to participate, nearly 50 kids immersed themselves in the role of adults for the first time to make purchases while trying to stay within budget. Several police officers were not only on hand to offer support, but actually participated in the fair with the students.

As part of the DE Day of Service, DEs Aleicia Oneal and LaTesha Wheeler of DGEFCU, Bert Hash retired -MECU. Nicole Bowen of Fairfax Credit Union, Thelma Matthews of MECU Baltimore, Sarah Turner of MDDCCUA and Michael Ray of HOYA FCU were all on deck for this valuable experience for area high school kids.


A group of Wisconsin DEs (Lacey Adler, Jan Garkey, Scott Lopez, Christopher Morris, Jenni Speth and DE-to-be Kathy Heiderscheit) worked all day to help build affordable homes for those in need in Madison. This outing came about through a great connection. Valerie Johnson (2nd from left) is the CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Dane County, and is also a DE, having worked at the World Council of Credit Unions prior to Habitat. Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat for Humanity of Dane County builds and rehabilitates simple, decent homes with the help of our partner families to provide affordable housing. Habitat partner families provide labor and make monthly mortgage payments on their homes at a 0% interest rate.

More information (and pictures) from the outing is here.

For More Information... Chad Helminak, Director of DE and Cooperative Culture, at (608) 231-4078 or