Kitsap’s ‘Life on the Edge’ Earns State and National CUNA Awards

Kitsap Credit Union earned regional and national recognition from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) for its “Life on the Edge in Kitsap County” program, a day-long event led by Outreach Coordinator Cathy Brorson that sought to engage community partners, organizations and legislators in the fight against generational poverty.

After garnering a first-place Dora Maxwell Award in Washington, Kitsap took home second-place honors in CUNA’s national competition in the $500-$1 billion asset-size category.

“It’s very humbling,” Brorson said. “But at the same time, I’m so excited that it’s drawing attention to the issues behind the event, because they’re so important, and they affect communities everywhere. This really merits our time and attention.”

Brorson began planning the event as part of her Credit Union Development Educator (DE) training, and the event included representatives from all levels of local and regional government, leaders from a variety of community organizations and several moving speakers.

Attendees also became active participants in ‘Life on the Edge’ when they were challenged in the afternoon to themselves live life on the edge for a “month” through the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS). Created and proliferated by the Missouri Association for Community Action, CAPS gives each participant a role to play with the goal of simply surviving a month on the brink of extreme poverty.

“This was the hope when I first put this project together,” Brorson said. “It has been successful in creating awareness, it’s been successful in engaging people, and it was succesful in bringing together not only every sector of our community, but people from five different counties. I think the rich discussion that was part of that day and the experiential learning opportunity that participants were able to walk away with are so valuable. It’s exponential. We wanted to achieve a ripple effect, something that would grow beyond our one-day event, and I think we were able to achieve that.”

Brorson said follow-up plans are already in the works and will include an action-oriented half-day event as well as the development of a “Life on the Edge” listserv and a more focused long-range plan based on feedback and discussion from participants.

The 2012 Dora Maxwell Award first-place winners include:

  • Renaissance Community Development Credit Union in Somerset, N.J.;
  • United Labor Credit Union in Kansas City, Mo.;
  • Health Center Credit Union in Evans, Ga.;
  • Rock Valley Federal Credit Union in Loves Park, Ill.;
  • Mid Missouri Credit Union in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.;
  • Alabama Credit Union in Tuscaloosa, Ala.;
  • Credit Union ONE in Ferndale, Mich.;
  • American Heritage Federal Credit Union in Philadelphia, Pa.; and
  • Pittsburgh Chapter of Credit Unions, Pittsburgh, Pa.

First-place winners of this year’s Louise Herring Award are:

  • Syracuse Cooperative Federal Credit Union in Syracuse, N.Y.;
  • St. Louis Community Credit Union in St. Louis, Mo.;
  • Commonwealth Credit Union in Frankfort, Ky.;
  • State Employees’ Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C.; and
  • Erie Chapter of Credit Unions, Erie, Pa.

“Over the last year, nearly 2.2 million people joined credit unions – the most in that one-year period in more than a decade. While many join for the good deal that credit unions offer, many also embrace the philosophy and ideals of our movement which are embodied by those we honor with these awards,” said Bill Cheney, president and CEO of CUNA. “In fact, it is their personal commitment to credit union philosophy – including commitment to community involvement and member financial education – which ensures a movement that succeeds in offering the best deal to consumers and ever-higher delivery of service excellence. Congratulations to these honorees, and to all in the movement who share and practice their values.”

Dora Maxwell was an original signer of CUNA’s constitution and a tireless organizer of hundreds of credit unions throughout the United States. She also developed volunteer organizer clubs and worked tirelessly with organizations on behalf of the poor.

The Maxwell Award is presented to credit unions in eight asset-size categories and a chapter or multiple credit union group category for outstanding social responsibility projects in their communities. Activities may include: solving core community problems, coordinating supply drives for the needy, raising money or organizing special events for charitable organizations, or mentoring students.

Winning entries will be on display at CUNA’s 2013 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) from Feb. 24-28 in Washington, D.C. The award winners will be honored during a Feb. 27 reception.


Questions? Contact the NWCUA Awards Program: 800.995.9064, ext. 106;

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