“ADVOCACY is such a VIBE!”

Zoom fatigue? Not here. Not when a dynamic force of more than 150 credit union professionals lit up seven display screens at last week’s virtual Washington Day at the Capitol.

Several credit unions brought 15 or more team members to participate, and when NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang asked how many first-time advocates were attending, many raised their hands.

While advocates’ work is a year-round mission, it was clear the Washington Credit Union Movement was chomping at the bit to gather for their big day.

“This day is so critically important,” Stang said. “Many organizations come to Olympia to tell their story, but today and every day is our day to tell the credit union story. Your work is making all of Washington stronger with your services to families and Main Street businesses.

Telling the real stories of support for families and small businesses, and backing that up with data, Stang said, “stops legislators in their tracks.”

Attendees were then armed with data when NWCUA EVP and Chief Advocacy Officer Jennifer Wagner shared the high-level results of the Association’s Community Impact Report. The data was made possible because Washington credit unions leaned in last year to share their data in the Community Impact Reporting Tool (CIRT). Key points include:

  • A $450 million community giveback measured by benefits to members, charitable contributions, and scholarships;
  • Free financial education provided to 108,000 Washingtonians;
  • 36,000 hours of volunteerism by credit union employees;
  • Support for more than 2,300 nonprofits;
  • $400 million in loans to first-time homebuyers; and
  • $7.5 million in member fees waived amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

#AdvocacyisaVibe

“ADVOCACY is such a VIBE,” was a chat comment submitted by Nelea Lem, an advocate from Vancouver-based iQ Credit Union. That prompted a series of emojis being posted to the chat box from “on fire” advocates, eager to learn and share more.

More good news advocates celebrated is that HB 1165, legislation modernizing the state’s Credit Union Act, quickly passed in the House with broad, bipartisan support, and is scheduled for a Senate committee hearing on Feb. 17.

Joe Adamack, NWCUA’s Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Washington, has long said the engagement of credit unions — in workgroups, the Governmental Affairs Committee, and at events such as Day at the Capitol — is key to advancing policy. And so, he said, is sharing the story of service to members.

“The daily work you do at your credit union is advocacy in and of itself,” Adamack said. “I want to extend our appreciation.”

Sharing an Inspired Vision

Washington State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti was a keynote guest. He inspired advocates by highlighting legislation to create the Washington Future Fund Trust, which would set aside $3,200 for all babies born under the state’s Medicaid program. The funds would be invested until the children become young adults, and at that point, the money could be used to buy property, start a small business, or pay for higher education.

“What we are really trying to do,” said Pellicciotti, “is to interrupt generational poverty.”

Washington’s credit union advocates left the event fully prepared to share their stories with legislators throughout the remainder of the session and all year.

Editor’s note: Special thanks to the Credit Union Movement’s business solutions partners who sponsored this event: CUNA Mutual Group, Elan, and Origence, who share credit unions’ vision to provide a brighter financial future for all.

Posted in Advocacy News, Day at the Capitol Recaps.