WASHINGTON, D.C.—Credit union volunteers and professionals will take the good news about credit unions to federal lawmakers on Thursday, October 16, when they visit Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. The effort is part of the day-long celebration of International Credit Union Day® (ICU Day), the annual event held the third Thursday of each October to celebrate credit union service to members worldwide.
In Washington, the visit to representatives will be followed by a special late-afternoon reception at the Cannon House Office Building, where credit union contributions will be formally honored. Elsewhere throughout the world, credit unions and their trade associations will celebrate with parades, picnics and special events to celebrate the role that not-for-profit member-owned financial cooperatives play in improving the lives and financial wellbeing of their members.
This year's theme—My Credit Union: It Belongs to MeTM—recognizes the important role that member-ownership plays in defining credit union value to members. The role takes on even more significance given current global financial challenges, according to Melvin Edwards, chairman of World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), which represents credit unions and their associations on a global scale.
"The role credit unions play in their members' lives is gaining even greater importance in light of the growing global financial crisis," said Edwards, who represents the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions on WOCCU's board of directors. "The strength and empowerment that comes through cooperative ownership cannot be underestimated, making credit union access more critical to members than it has been in the past."
Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the U.S. credit union trade association, is organizing the "Hike the Hill" visits, while CUNA and WOCCU will jointly sponsor the reception to follow. In a movement that is marked by cooperation rather than competition, ICU Day is the perfect time for credit union groups to demonstrate their spirit of unity and service to members, according to Dan Mica, CUNA's president & CEO.
"At credit unions, which are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, every customer is both a member and an owner," Mica said. "This year's theme celebrates the economic democracy and equal ownership rights of each credit union member, regardless of how much money a member has on deposit. Our unique structure and the philosophy it engenders are at the root of the extraordinary affinity that members have for their credit unions."
While credit union officials celebrate ICU Day in Washington, WesCorp, a corporate credit union located in San Dimas, Calif., will host a global webcast featuring Pete Crear, president & CEO of WOCCU, discussing global credit union growth. According to Crear, who will be interviewed by Paul Berry, host of CUNA's Home and Family Finance radio program, the number of credit unions and members served is growing on a global basis.
"Worldwide, more than 49,000 credit unions in 96 countries serve more than 177 million members," said Crear, citing data from WOCCU's 2007 Statistical Report released in June. "Our mission is to bring financial independence and economic democracy through credit unions to people around the globe, and we're making great strides in achieving that goal."
The webcast begins at noon Pacific Daylight Time on Oct. 16 and runs until approximately 1 p.m. It is open to the public and may be accessed by registering at www.wescorp.org or www.woccu.org. The program will be recorded and available for viewing on both WesCorp's and WOCCU's Websites.
On the day following the ICU Day celebrations, WOCCU's International Partnerships program will be holding its annual Partnerships Workshop, also in Washington. Credit union leagues and corporate credit unions involved with one of WOCCU's 26 partnership programs will share best practices and experiences of their partnership.
For graphic designs and marketing materials to help celebrate ICU day, visit www.woccu.org/events/icuday. Anyone wishing to recognize credit union contributions to their members may download and use the designs at no charge.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.