International Credit Union Day Celebrates 75 Years of ‘People Helping People’
By W.B. King
Since 1948, the third Thursday of October has been designated as International Credit Union (ICU) Day — a time to reflect on the all-important “people helping people” movement.
“ICU Day is recognized to reflect upon the credit union movement’s history, its achievements, hard work and shared member experiences,” Greg Neumann, director of communications at World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), noted during the Global Credit Union podcast celebrating the event.
While America’s credit union movement began in earnest on April 6, 1909 when St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association opened its doors in Manchester, N.H., its roots date back was to 1845 when the Association of Administrators or The Association of Farmers was founded in Europe.
“The ultimate goal [of ICU Day] is to raise awareness on the tremendous work credit unions and other financial cooperatives are doing around the world and to give members the opportunity to get more engaged,” Neumann said, adding that the celebratory event is in partnership with the Credit Union National Association (NCUA) and Elan Financial Services.
For the Vancouver, Wash.-based iQ Credit Union, ICU Day represents an opportunity to further support its 100,000-plus members and the towns and cities in which they live and work.
“Giving back to our community is at the center of iQ’s mission,” noted Ali Migaki, chief retail officer at iQ Credit Union.
Among related initiatives is the credit union’s commitment to financial education and community engagement. These programs, Migaki explained, positively impact local schools, students, educators, nonprofits and local organizations.
The credit union, to date, has donated 430 volunteer hours to community service; given back $37,000 to local nonprofits, organizations and educators through its programs iQ for Kids, Read with Me and Literacy Grants; fundraised $8,100 by staff for its employee-run iQ for Kids Foundation; and awarded $20,000 each year in scholarships to local students.
“International Credit Union Day is a perfect opportunity to connect with our members over a cup of coffee, provide education about our services, and spread awareness of the work we are doing in the region,” Migaki said.
ICU Day is a unifying experience acknowledging the credit union movement’s history, achievements and future aspirations, Megan Crowson, manager of consumer engagement solutions, NCUA, offered.
“Celebrating the 75th anniversary of ICU Day underlines the resilience and dedication of the credit union movement,” added Crowson. “It is a moment to reflect on our collective achievements and engage with our members around the world in a day of celebration. We are proud to commemorate this historic milestone in cooperation with World Council of Credit Unions and America’s Credit Unions.”
Elissa McCarter LaBorde, president and CEO of WOCCU, noted that the organization “advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation.”
WOCCU, which serves 87,914 credit unions in 118 countries, totaling more than 393 million members, has regularly offered technical assistance programs, tools and technologies to strengthen the credit union’s industry financial performance and increase its outreach, LaBorde said.
“It is a day we reflect on the impact we have made for all these years on people’s lives, enhancing their lives,” LaBorde said of ICU Day. “The pride and joy we put in our members’ lives — making them feel proud of their achievements and what they have been able to acquire through the credit union movement.”
To date, WOCCU has implemented 300-plus technical assistance programs in 90 countries.
“This day is internationally recognized as an opportunity to reflect on the movement’s history, promote our collective achievements and prepare for the future,” said LaBorde. “Seventy-five years is quite a milestone to observe and acknowledge the tireless effort of credit union employees and celebrate our members the world over.”