Northwest Credit Unions Leave People ‘Stunned, Grateful’ with Pay it Forward

The Pay it Forward initiative on International Credit Union Day left people “stunned, grateful, and frozen with disbelief.”

Adam Hermosillo needed a solution. His heating bill was past due and he didn’t have the money to bring it current. When he walked into Klamath Lake Community Action Services (KLCAS) on Thursday, October 16, he got more than he hoped for.

That Thursday was International Credit Union Day, and credit unions across the Northwest were celebrating by “paying it forward,” handing out money to unsuspecting strangers to show them, tangibly and unforgettably, the credit union difference.

Janet Buckalew, vice president of member advocacy and business development at Pacific Crest Federal Credit Union, also walked into KLCAS that day. She met Hermosillo and handed him a stack of $114.

“He could not believe it,” said Buckalew. “One hundred and fourteen dollars was enough to get his electric bill current and help a friend with his electric bill.” Hermosillo was not a member of Pacific Crest Federal, but said he would look into them.

“It created quite a stir in the office with employees coming out to see what was happening and thanking our credit union,” said Buckalew.

Pacific Crest Federal paid it forward to four other people that day. “It turned out that we helped each one in a very special way,” said Buckalew.

Linn-Co Pays it Forward

Kathleen Burt, public relations officer at Linn-Co Federal Credit Union, joined chief sales officer Rebecca Grizzle to pay it forward in Linn County. “We actually handed out money in three towns that day,” Burt said, “Lebanon, Albany, and Sweet Home.”

They paid it forward to eighteen people, several of whom were job seekers. “We liked the idea of employment offices,” said Burt, “because these were people looking for work.”

They paid it forward at two employment offices and then at lunch they saw another chance to help someone looking for a job. “We were in a restaurant and saw a young lady filling out an application,” Burt said. They walked up and paid it forward to her, too.

“It really was an amazing day,” said Burt. “People were stunned, grateful, and frozen with disbelief.”

A local newspaper even tracked them down in Lebanon and shot footage of them paying it forward at a grocery outlet.

Northwest Pay it Forward Wrap-up

A number of other Northwest credit unions paid it forward on International Credit Union Day, too.

  • Peninsula Credit Union paid it forward to Tyler Music, Homeless Coordinator for North Mason Resources, who said he would use the money to serve his clients.
  • Valley Credit Union paid it forward to Family Building Blocks, which works to prevent child abuse and neglect.
  • STCU paid it forward to four community organizations including the Arc of Spokane, which offers advocacy and support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Great NorthWest Federal Credit Union paid it forward to Aberdeen High School’s AVID program, which aims to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college success.
  • Rivermark Community Credit Union paid it forward to a mother walking with her son through a local mall. They captured the moment on video.

To see more from Northwest credit unions’ Pay it Forward campaign, see our Facebook album full of photos.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790,

Posted in Events, Federal.