Industry honors LVCU’s innovative community outreach efforts at annual conference
SUNNYSIDE, WA (FEBRUARY 26, 2014) – Lower Valley Credit Union (LVCU) was awarded the Credit Union Times’ Trailblazer Award for Outstanding Service to the Underserved last night at the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. The award honors credit unions that promote change by creating and implementing innovative strategies and solutions.
“Each year we seek out the gold standard in credit union management and service for recognition in our Trailblazer program,” said Credit Union Times Publisher Sarah Snell Cooke. “And each year, when we look at the nominations that have come in, we find it hard to choose.”
“LVCU’s focus on providing both financial education and affordable financial services to its largely lower-income membership made it this year’s Trailblazing credit union,” echoed David Morrison, senior staff reporter at the Credit Union Times. “When making this award, the Credit Union Times seeks credit unions that combine teaching members what they need to do with providing affordable products and services which help them do it. LVCU deserves the award and our congratulations.”
Since 2010, LVCU has originated some 400 loans to first-time borrowers and approximately 1,900 used-auto loans to its limited income and credit members. According to Scott Butterfield, principal of the consulting firm Your Credit Union Partner who nominated LVCU for the award, the credit union’s role and image within the community is growing rapidly.
“Partnership invitations are coming in from national, regional and local groups, each wanting to partner with LVCU to increase outreach efforts and community impact,” Butterfield said. “LVCU’s financial results prove that credit unions can do well financially when they stick to credit union roots and help people of modest means. Most importantly, LVCU is impacting the quality of life in meaningful ways for thousands of consumers. Truly, they are creating hope and access to a better tomorrow.”
According to joinbankon.org, the percentage of unbanked households in Sunnyside is 17.7 percent, double the national average of 7.7 percent. The credit union’s commitment to credit-challenged members is reflected in the high percentage of affordable used-auto loans made, including 385 who lacked a reportable credit profile within the past three years. Besides affordable access to credit and financial education, the predominantly Hispanic population base of the community needs financial resources. Spanish speaking members do not have to be referred to another department for help; they have seamless bilingual communication available to them at all times.
“You can say that the bond that is developed with our members is unmatched, not just because we take time to visit with them, but because our efforts are sincere,” said LVCU CEO Suzy Fonseca when accepting the award on behalf of the staff. “We know their struggles firsthand. We know what the trenches look like because we’ve been there too. We’ve been to the orchards and harvested the fruit. We’ve seen parents and neighbors struggle to gain their citizenship, much less fair credit of any type. Above all, we recognize that dignity and respect is critical in any relationship-building, but without sincerity, it just simply does not work.”
About Lower Valley Credit Union
Lower Valley Credit Union is a $60 million, Low Income Designated credit union deeply rooted in Washington State’s Lower Yakima Valley. Headquartered in Sunnyside, the credit union also operates branches in Prosser and Grandview, and will open a brand new Sunnyside branch in the fall. LVCU is dedicated to serving its members through a wide array of products and services, including free checking and savings accounts, loans, mortgages, IRAs, certificates, and more!