GTE Financial Highlighted in CU Journal 8/31/17
As Tropical Storm Harvey makes a second landfall – this time in southwestern Louisiana, after dumping an epic amount of rain and misery on southeastern Texas – more and more credit union-related organizations are joining the massive effort to help those who have lost so much in the catastrophe.
Digital Growth Institute, a Houston-based financial services digital marketing firm (formerly called CU Grow) has established a donation page on its website to collect and give $8,000 to local families displaced by the hurricane. The project will focus on providing Houston families with financial assistance for such items as food, water, diapers, wipes, clothing, repairs to flooded home, and a safe place to stay.
“I’ve lived through multiple hurricanes and tropical storms, but I have never seen anything like what I’m watching unfold before now,” Digital Growth Institute founder and CEO James Robert Lay said in a statement. “In just three days, more than 9 trillion gallons of water fell on our city… Thousands of people and families throughout our community of Houston are hurting.”
In faraway Bismarck, N.D., the Credit Union Foundation of the Dakotas unanimously voted to make an immediate $5,000 donation to assist with relief efforts in Texas, following the decision earlier this week by the National Credit Union Foundation to activate CUAid and call for donations to help the victims of Harvey.
“There is no doubt that making this donation to CUAid is the right thing to do,” said Mike Reisnour, CEO of the $73 million Dakota Plains CU of Edgeley, N.D. and CUFD board chair. “Not only is it time to pay it forward, credit unions and credit union people have always been about ‘people helping people.’ We must do what we can to help.”
Similarly, Patrick Jury, Credit Union National Association board chair and president/CEO of the Iowa Credit Union League, called on the credit union movement to “marshal its resources” to help all those affected by Hurricane Harvey, noting that nearly 50 credit union institutions have reported closures and damage as a result of the historic storm and ongoing flooding.
“When catastrophes strike our communities, credit unions and their staffs are always there, in the heart of it, selflessly doing whatever they can to aid and support their neighbors, friends and families,” Jury said. “The days to come will no doubt reveal that the disaster to befall the Houston area and areas across the southern coast of the United States will rival some of the most destructive natural disasters our nation has ever experienced. As always, credit unions must – and will – do whatever we can to help.”
Similarly, CO-OP Financial Services, a payments and financial technology company based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., said it is donating $10,000 to CUAid to help credit unions and their members in Texas who were affected by Harvey.
The donation, the company added, augments the nationwide CO-OP Shared Branch and CO-OP ATM networks used extensively in credit union business continuity and recovery during times of disaster.
“Tropical Storm Harvey has dramatically reminded us that natural disasters can come upon us with amazing speed,” said CO-OP President and CEO Todd Clark. “We have been proactively contacting clients in the impacted areas to assess needs and determine where we can help. The $10,000 donation on behalf of our client credit unions is one expression of that outreach, and available at all times to members of participating credit unions is our vast networks of branches and ATMs, ensuring access to accounts for those displaced by the flooding.”
People helping people
Individual credit unions are also helping to make a difference.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union, a $22.8 billion institution based in Alexandria, Va., has donated $50,000 to the American Red Cross chapters in Corpus Christi and Houston, Texas.
PenFed, which serves more than 130,000 members in Texas, noted that the American Red Cross, its employees, retirees and volunteers are among its field of membership.
“Our thoughts are with our members and the communities in Texas that are affected by this devastating storm,” said PenFed president and CEO James Schenck. “For 82 years, we have stood by our members through good times and bad times. We will continue to stand by them – and our employees – during this crisis.”
GTE Financial, a $1.8 billion credit union based in Tampa, Fla., announced that it will enable its members to donate to the Harvey relief efforts, and that the GTE Foundation will match donations up to $10,000.
GTE Financial is also activating an emergency loan program for its 920 members who live in Texas. Emergency loans with special terms and lowered rates will be available to those impacted by the storm and need immediate assistance.
According to the National Weather Service, Harvey has now set a preliminary record, surpassing 50 inches for the greatest amount of measured single-storm rainfall for the continental US. An additional rainfall accumulation of six to twelve inches are now expected to the north and east of Houston and into southwestern Louisiana.