Credit Unions Rally Around Their Members and Communities During Wildfires

From hefty donations to simple acts of kindness, credit unions are doing what they do best — helping people.

9/14/2020

Ferocious wildfires throughout the Northwest continue to displace thousands and have left hundreds without homes. Some residents have lost loved ones to the devastation, and the full picture of just how many have perished is not yet clear. It’s difficult to comprehend the devastation — lives, homes, and beloved natural areas gone in what feels like an instant.

In times like these, credit unions rally. Throughout Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, credit unions are working in the true cooperative “People Helping People” spirit, providing relief and comfort to members, staff, and their communities.

In Southern Oregon, where fires have leveled entire towns, Rogue Credit Union, based in Medford, has been in overdrive helping members and staffers alike who have lost their homes.

Clackamas Federal Credit Union saw dozens of its members and staff evacuate last week from their homes. Here, red smoky skies loom ominously over the credit union’s Canby, Oregon, branch last week.

Through the Rogue Credit Union Foundation, Rogue has established the Southern Oregon Wildfire Relief Fund to support local families and communities. In less than 72 hours, Rogue raised more than $190,000, and plans to contribute an additional $100,000 in matching funds.

“We’re proud to be part of such an incredible community that is truly committed to showing up and taking care of each other,” said Rogue Credit Union President and CEO, Gene Pelham. “We know that in the face of tragedy, Southern Oregonians are here to care for each other. We’re here to help and are committed to rebuilding the communities we serve.”

In Portland, Ironworkers USA Federal Credit Union is helping members by giving them places to stay and meals to keep them going. Donations also poured into the credit union, so it set up a donation website and also created a form members can fill out to receive help — everything from emergency funds to a place to park for the night.

Some Ironworkers members who evacuated weren’t sure where to go, and ended up in their credit union’s parking lot, looking for a place to rest.

“We’re like family here. Two members rolled up with their RVs, horse trailers, kids, even goats,” said CEO Teri Robinson. “They were just trying to find somewhere safe to go. Their houses were within feet of the fire.”

The credit union supplied them with dinner, activities for the children, extra water, and much-needed compassion.

Other Credit Union Assistance Throughout the Region
  • Advantis Credit Union donated $15,000 to the American Red Cross Cascades Region to support relief efforts. It’s also offering members skipped loan payment options, emergency loans, and other resources.
  • Cascade Community Federal Credit Union is collecting funds for United Way, which will distribute all donations to recovery relief efforts in Douglas County, Oregon. It’s also helping members and staff impacted by evacuations. “Our hearts and thoughts go out to those affected by all the fires in the Douglas County area. We are Cascade’s community, and we’ve got you,” said Lynn Calvert, President and CEO. “Times like these are what Credit Union cooperatives came together for. We were created to assist our members and, we will come together to do that now.”
  • Central Willamette Credit Union is offering members a Fire Relief Loan — a 0% interest emergency loan of up to $2,500 facing financial hardship due to the fires. The credit union also is offering skipped payment options on existing loans.
  • Clackamas Federal Credit Union is providing emergency financial support to several staff to pay for hotels and basic needs after they were forced to evacuate. The credit union also posted resources for members so they may stay up to date on evacuations and other information.
  • Cutting Edge Credit Union donated 500 tubes of Chapstick to the Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, which were quickly distributed to firefighters on the frontlines to protect from the harsh heat and wind.
  • Gesa Credit Union has partnered with the American Red Cross to accept donations now through the end of October at all Gesa branches. All donations collected benefit the Red Cross Washington Wildfire fund, to aid those in need. Gesa will match all donations up to $10,000.
  • iQ Credit Union has donated $10,000 to the NW Chapter of the Red Cross to directly benefit wildfire victims in Washington and Oregon. It’s also assisting members in need.
  • Maps Credit Union is offering members short-term 0% emergency loans, skipped loan payments, temporary reduction on loan payments, and other services.
  • Old West Federal Credit Union is collecting items at its branches for those in need, from hygiene products, to non-perishable food items and camping gear. “I remember a few years ago when Western Oregon showered love and support for Eastern Oregon during the Canyon Creek Complex fires and other fires that ravaged N.E. Oregon. They truly stepped up for us and now, as a community, we can help our fellow hurting Oregonians,” said President and CEO, Ken Olson.
  • OnPoint Community Credit Union donated $50,000 to the local Red Cross and is covering food and temporary shelter costs for any employees impacted by evacuations.
  • P1FCU has created a Fire Relief Fund for community members affected by the fires in Orofino, Colfax, Malden, Pine City, and surrounding areas. The credit union is donating $30,000 to start the fund and is encouraging local businesses and community members to donate.
  • Rivermark Community Credit Union is providing emergency, 0% loans to members and staff. It also will provide $300 stipends to employees who live in a household that received a level 3 evacuation order. Level 3 orders mean to “go now.” The credit union also donated $10,000 to Clackamas Emergency Services Foundation.
  • Sound Credit Union is partnering with the American Red Cross Northwest Region to support victims of the Washington state wildfires. The credit union will match all donations collected, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000. 100% of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross Washington Wildfire relief fund. 
  • Unitus Community Credit Union has donated $50,000 to RedCross Cascades, United Way of Mid-Willamette Valley, and Northwest Credit Union Foundation to help provide relief supplies, essential commodities, recovery services, and direct aid for individuals, families, emergency workers, and Unitus employees affected by the wildfires. The credit union is also offering members short-term relief loans and skip payment options.

Editor’s Note: Want to help the credit union family throughout the Northwest during the wildfires? The Northwest Credit Union Foundation is assisting credit unions and their employees through its disaster relief program. Read more here.