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Northwest Credit Unions and NWCUF Respond to the Crisis in Ukraine
In wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine over the past few weeks, credit unions are coming together in various ways to provide critical relief for Ukrainians.
On Feb. 24, CUNA President and CEO, Jim Nussle, and World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) President and CEO, Elissa McCarter LaBorde, issued statements in support of Ukraine’s credit unions.
“America’s credit unions stand united with the Ukrainian American Credit Union Association (UACUA) in expressing our deep desires for peace within Ukraine. The threat of escalating violence would further destabilize the country and displace millions more. We are praying for a swift end to hostilities in the region,” Nussle said.
LaBorde explained that the WOCCU is very concerned about the safety and well-being of its member credit union associations in Ukraine and the individual credit unions they serve.
“We stand ready to support the Ukrainian National Association of Savings and Credit Unions (UNASCU) and the All-Ukrainian Association of Credit Unions and are in regular communication with them during this crisis,” she said.
The Northwest Movement Rallies Support
In the past few weeks, credit unions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington have jumped into action, leading the charge to help raise funds for impacted citizens and remove barriers for U.S.-based members supporting Ukrainian family members.
CapEd Credit Union, based in Meridian, Idaho, is waiving its usual foreign wire fees for members sending money to individuals in Ukraine. The credit union said it is also collecting monetary contributions to support health and human needs in Ukraine through the WOCCU.
Todd Christensen, Chief Marketing Officer, said that meeting with Oksana Markarova, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, at CUNA GAC last week inspired the credit union to help however it could.
“She shared with great passion as anyone could imagine in detail the things that are taking place in Ukraine,” he said. “And as our leadership sat there, we were compelled, inspired, encouraged, whatever the right word is… to think about how we as a credit union with a mission to help people. How can we help our Ukrainian community members.”
WOCCU’s charitable arm, the Worldwide Foundation of Credit Unions (WFCU), has launched the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund, which aims to mitigate the short- and long-term impacts the invasion is creating for Ukraine’s credit union system and those who look to it for support.
The Northwest Credit Union Foundation announced it will contribute $10,000 to the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund and urges more credit unions across the region to get involved.
“As the impacts of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine unfold, the need for support is urgent,” said Sharee Adkins, NWCUF Executive Director. “We appreciate the ways credit unions are responding to bring aid to the extended credit union family in Ukraine.”
Aaron Goff, President and CEO of Clackamas Federal Credit Union, worked with a group of Oregon credit unions to raise funds for Ukraine. Their contributions, which totaled $67,000 as of March 10, will support both the WOCCU Displacement Fund, and Mercy Corps, an international charity based in Portland. The Mercy Corps teams are on the ground in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland, providing funding to local organizations that are able meet urgent humanitarian needs.
Credit unions collaborating with Clackamas on this remarkable effort include: First Tech, OnPoint, Oregon Community Advantis, Rivermark, Unitus, Forrit, Central Willamette, Northwest Community, Point West, Trailhead, Ironworkers USA, Consolidated, and Pacific NW.
For credit unions founded on the “People Helping People” mission, this support is a natural thing to do.
“I have personally visited credit unions in Lviv, Ukraine, and know they will directly benefit from this displacement fund and the generosity of credit unions around the world,” said Steven Stapp, President and CEO of Unitus Community Credit Union, in a press release. “We know these donations will make a difference for the credit union system, employees, and members in Ukraine.”
Numerous other credit unions in the region have posted messages of solidarity on their websites, social media pages, and other channels, inviting members, employees, and other area credit unions to join them in their support.
Credit unions that are interested in participating in additional relief efforts are encouraged to reach out to Maija Noll, NWCUF’s Manager, Community Impact.