Partner of Choice: Columbia Credit Union Committed to Community

Credit union pioneer Dora Maxwell was a champion for the poor and worked with a variety of organizations to improve the position of the needy. As renowned as she is for having started hundreds of credit unions, it is her statuesque embodiment of the “People Helping People” philosophy that earned her a namesake honor.

The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award is given annually by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) to credit unions that have demonstrated exceptional commitment to a social mission.

Living up to Dora Maxwell’s legacy is no simple feat, but Columbia Credit Union did just that on its way to earning a first-place Dora Maxwell Award in Washington in the $500 million-to-$1 billion asset category.

All credit unions serve a social mission, but every year a few of them take their efforts to a higher level, often culminating with hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of dollars in charitable contributions.

Columbia Credit Union took this concept even further last year when it helped raise $2.9 million, contributed more than 1,250 volunteer hours and assisted 65 organizations in support of Clark County’s economic development, mental and physical health, as well as its arts and culture, educational and other needs.

“Columbia’s social responsibility efforts are driven by our core value of ‘making life better,’” said Michelle Thor, the credit union’s vice president of outreach and social responsibility.

This drive is evident in the number and quality of organizations the credit union supports, including Share of Vancouver, a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing services to individuals and families. Share of Vancouver works toward a vision of a community without hunger, where all people have safe and adequate housing and the skills to enhance their quality of life.

“We’re a proud partner with Columbia Credit Union in providing basic needs to our community,” said Share Executive Director Diane McWhithey. “[The credit union’s] continued sponsorship of the Share casino night fundraiser, support of our capital campaign, in-kind donations and leadership on our board of directors is truly making a difference for those in need.”

The 2011 casino night event alone raised $485,000 to fund operations for Share’s homeless shelters, transitional housing, case management and outreach programs, and daily meals.

And considering that Nov. 10-18 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, the timing couldn’t be better. Share is partnering with a number of local businesses to raise awareness of and support for the hungry and homeless in Clark County.

Dora Maxwell would be proud.


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