By Merry Pateuk
In an increasingly virtual world, museums remain an important testimony to authenticity. What happens, however, when museums add an element of virtual reality to the scope of existing stories and artifacts?
Located in America’s Credit Union Museum in Manchester, N.H., the new interactive “Impact of CUSOs” exhibit is beginning to reveal some answers that could help shape how history is viewed. The real-time accessibility of this new display makes it a quintessential bridge between current curiosities and the historic role CUSOs have played in the progression of the credit union industry.
Using an interactive touch-screen display, the exhibit has the power to tell a very big story in a very small space. It showcases the value of CUSOs to the credit union movement and outlines the foundation on which CUSOs were built. This exhibit exists to spread awareness of CUSOs and teach others about the pivotal ways in which they have helped credit unions balance trends throughout history.
Key CUSO pioneers are given rightful recognition within the exhibit. These pioneers include Dave Serlo, former president and CEO of PSCU; Guy Messick, general counsel for the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) and partner of Messick, Lauer & Smith P.C.; and Sarah Canepa Bang, credit union industry expert and former president of Shared Branching at CO-OP.
With nearly 100 years of combined experience, there are no better people to tell the CUSO story than these three individuals. Serlo, Messick and Canepa Bang understood the importance of leveraging the power of collaboration to bolster an entire industry. Collectively, these visionaries were able to ensure a model for cooperative self-help that enables CUSOs to spur innovation, increase efficiencies, and gain economies of scale for credit unions everywhere.
Bringing Philosophy to Life
Early CUSO pioneers recognized that while communities of the past faced different problems than those today, one thing remains the same: people. For all that has changed in today’s financial landscape, human nature remains much like it has always been: people and their communities are at their best when they exist to help one another. This belief is at the very heart of the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People,” something this exhibit is able to bring to life.
For those unable to travel to the Manchester location, the exhibit will soon be accessible from any desktop computer. America’s Credit Union Museum is an amazing experience for anyone interested in the human side of the credit union story as it provides the opportunity to learn from history and the important impact credit unions have had on the communities they serve.
CUSOs number around 1,100 today, and like the credit unions they serve, they strive to remain fluid – some increasing in size, others decreasing, to meet the needs of their credit union owners. Dynamic collaboration at a niche level is at the heart of each CUSO interaction. Thanks to the Legacy Campaign that funded the new exhibit, everyone now has the opportunity to learn about CUSOs’ role in community economics and celebrate shared progress and achievements.
Merry Pateuk is Vice President, Industry Engagement at PSCU and has since served in a wide range of senior leadership roles at PSCU, each of which were critical to building the company’s reputation, brand and industry stature. Her efforts in various roles have helped take the company from a start-up with a single line of business to an industry leader, servicing hundreds of credit unions nationwide with multiple product lines.