Bake Sales, Raffles and Big-Time Contributions: Credit Unions’ Mudslide Fund Tops $64,800

TwinStar Credit Union employees Shiela Goodrich, Juliann Chapman, Patti Coots and Sharon Jerde raised funds for mudslide survivors by asking members to pay for parking last week.

TwinStar Credit Union employees raised $254 dollars last week to help survivors of Washington’s massive mudslide in Oso by asking members to pay for parking at the credit union’s corporate offices in Lacy. At Newrizons Federal Credit Union, employees sold cookies and raffle tickets. At Our Community Credit Union, staff joined local firefighters and police in collecting donations and much-needed supplies.

In countless ways big and small, Northwest credit unions have come together in the spirit of “people helping people” to make sure their neighbors have what they need in the wake of one of the deadliest mudslides in U.S. history. Through Tuesday morning, a fund established by the Northwest Credit Union Foundation had raised more than $64,800.

“Credit unions exist to help people, and we are committed to doing what we can to help,” said Gesa Credit Union President/CEO Don Miller, who echoed the words of so many credit union leaders. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones, the families who have lost homes, and the first responders who are still working to find survivors.”

The massive mudslide, which hit March 22 about 55 miles northeast of Seattle, left at least 36 people dead and caused an estimated $10 million in damage. All 36 victims had been identified by the Snohomish County medical examiner by Friday afternoon; seven people remain missing.

Contributions to the NWCUF’s fund can still be made online and will be accepted through April 9. At that point, the Foundation will work with United Way of Snohomish County to make sure donations are directed to housing, supplies and other immediate needs, according to Troy Stang, president and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association.

Stang said the Foundation seeded the fund with $5,000. That was quickly followed by a $5,000 donation from OSU Federal, even though the credit union’s home in Corvallis is located more than 300 miles from the disaster site. WSECU also donated $5,000 to the fund, and Anchorage-based Alaska USA Federal Credit Union did the same.

Qualstar Credit Union member Ty Suddarth was running errands when the Oso mudslide hit, but partner Amanda and their baby, Duke, were both critically injured.

Clackamas Federal Credit Union and First Tech Credit Union each contributed $2,500; Fibre Federal, NW Preferred Federal, Pacific NW Federal, Providence Federal, Salal, St. Helens Community Federal, TAPCO, Trailhead, Unitus, USAgencies and Valley Credit Union each added $1,000; and Gesa Credit Union announced that it would match community members’ donations, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.

Credit unions across the Northwest used their websites and social media channels to reach out to members, including American Lake, Global, Lacamas Community, Lower Valley, Numerica, People’s Community Federal, Point West, Spokane Federal, STCU, Wauna and Woodstone. Verity Credit Union added a heart and the hashtag #OsoStrong to a map of Washington and told its members, “Imagine what 4.5 million credit union members in the Northwest alone can do to help the victims and their families. You can make a difference.”

For other credit unions, the disaster hit especially close to home.

BECU confirmed that one of its members lost his wife and grandchild in the slide, and that nine other member families may have been impacted. The credit union is challenging its employees with a two-for-one fundraising match and has added direct links to the American Red Cross and United Way on its member-facing website.

Qualstar Credit Union is pointing its members to a fundraising campaign for member Ty Suddarth, his partner, Amanda Skorjanc, and their baby, Duke, who lost their home and all of their possessions in the mudslide. Suddarth was running errands when the slide hit, but Amanda and Duke were both home. They survived, although both suffered critical injuries; Amanda is still being treated at Harborview Medical Center, but 24-week-old Duke was released from Seattle Children’s Hospital on Wednesday.

Through Friday morning, the fund for Suddarth and his family had raised more than $19,500 toward a goal of $30,000 to pay for clothing, household items and medical expenses. And there was one more piece of good news: The Suddarth family dog was found alive in the mud and debris, too, and has been reunited with its owners.

The National Credit Union Foundation has created a sample message that credit unions can use on their websites to raise awareness. Contributions to the NWCUF fund can still be made online, and will be accepted through April 9.

Questions about this story? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in Federal.