TwinStar, North Coast Members Win $5,000 Monthly Prizes in Save to Win Drawing

Karen Salado celebrates with Dollar Dog at the TwinStar Credit Union branch at Vancouver Mall.

Three credit union members who deposited at least $25 in their Save to Win accounts in March were rewarded Tuesday with celebrations in their honor and checks for $5,000 each – the biggest prizes yet in Washington’s year-old, prize-linked savings program.

TwinStar Credit Union members Karen Salado and Anne Mickatavage and North Coast Credit Union member Gertrude “Pat” Nelson were randomly selected in a computerized drawing. For Salado, who has been a regular saver since she was 15, the news was especially surprising: She’d opened a Save to Win account only weeks before the drawing.

“When I was first married, right off the bat we would put $25 a week in savings and even now I always pay myself first,” Salado says. So what appealed to her about Save to Win? “The opportunity to win,” she says. “Even if I don’t win a prize, I still win because I am saving.”

That’s certainly the concept behind Save to Win: Create a kind of lottery in which players can win cash prizes just by saving money — and make it impossible for them to lose a dime.

All of the money members deposit in the 12-month certificate program stays in their accounts, because the prize pool is funded by the Northwest Credit Union Association through its Strategic Link subsidiary. As members build their assets, they’re also eligible to win — each $25 deposit earns an entry into monthly and annual drawings, and members can earn up to 10 chances to win every month.

Pat Nelson (left) receives her $5,000 check from Branch Manager Rose Mary Wilson at North Coast Credit Union in Mount Vernon.

Typically, the monthly drawings award multiple $50 prizes. But on the first anniversary of Save to Win in Washington, three $5,000 monthly prizes were awarded for March. On May 2, the winner of the state’s first $5,000 annual prize will be announced.

The windfall will certainly come in handy for Pat Nelson, who has been a North Coast Credit Union member for 27 years. She started her Save to Win account to save money to redo her kitchen, and her winnings are going right back into her account to make that dream a reality.

“I’m putting this money back into the account until I have enough to do everything I want,” she says. “New countertops, new paint, new floors. I am very excited to receive this money. My new kitchen is getting closer and closer!”

Mickatavage isn’t quite sure what she’ll do with her winnings yet. An engineer, she says she “always knew where my money was, but didn’t save much” until she learned about Save to Win at a TwinStar Credit Union branch. She’s a regular saver now. “I know it’s important,” she says.

And what did she do when she found out she’d won $5,000?

“I went ‘Mwahhhh!’” Mickatavage says. “I screamed!”

TwinStar Credit Union President/CEO Jeff Kennedy and Dollar Dog help Anne Mickatavage with her check during a celebration in Yelm.

Oregon’s Legislature hasn’t voted to allow prize-linked savings accounts yet, but six Washington credit unions signed on when the program debuted locally in April 2013: Connection Credit Union, Express Credit Union, Fibre Federal, North Coast Credit Union, O Bee Credit Union and TwinStar Credit Union. Earlier this month, Peninsula Credit Union became the seventh Washington participant, launching its Save to Win program at a celebratory breakfast in Belfair.

Through the end of March, 950 members had opened Save to Win accounts in Washington, with total deposits of more than $885,200. The average saved per account is about $932. Fibre Federal members have saved the most money, TwinStar Credit Union has opened the most accounts, and Connection Credit Union boasts the highest average saved per account.

National media have shined a spotlight on Save to Win, including coverage on CNN and PBS and stories in The Salt Lake City Deseret News and The New York Times. You’ll also find recent coverage of the program in Anthem.

For more information about the Save to Win program in Washington, contact Craig Reed, the NWCUA’s director of strategic partnerships, at 206.340.4789 or creed@nwcua.org.

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

Posted in NWCUA.