By Merry Pateuk
January saw the arrival of new faces in Washington on both sides of the aisle following last year’s highly contentious midterm elections. While credit unions still have support in both parties, new members of Congress may or may not be informed about the importance of credit unions in the community, making now a critical time for credit union awareness and advocacy.
Indications are that Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Richard Neal (D-MA), the chairs of the House Financial Services and Ways and Means committees, respectively, plan to prioritize the following initiatives: data breach legislation, regulatory reform, charter enhancements and preserving the tax status. By marshaling the power and voices of the national trade associations and state leagues, addressing public policy issues and blanketing Capitol Hill with the credit union message, credit unions can earn a spot on the legislative agenda.
One of the most visible ways credit unions throughout the U.S. bring awareness to the important role credit unions play in their communities is through the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, which takes place each April in the nation’s capital. The annual event is instrumental in showcasing the value of the credit union community and the credit union movement at a local level. Credit unions throughout the U.S. proudly join together as the title sponsor of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, which benefits the Children’s Miracle Network. Credit union support for the event is two-fold: volunteers provide the manpower behind the event itself, while financial donations go directly to the millions of children who enter a Children’s Hospital annually for treatment.
Community Involvement Center Stage
The race puts credit union community involvement on center stage for members of Congress and other D.C.-area influencers. It also complements the active lobbying efforts of the CUNA and NAFCU trade associations. Many of the race’s 15,000 runners each year are Capitol Hill staffers, all of whom get the chance to witness firsthand the community service and volunteer efforts of this country’s credit unions. All of these groups and participants come together to help ensure elected officials – especially newly elected ones – have a clearer understanding of their role in the industry’s future success and the importance of credit unions in their communities.
The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run is also an opportunity to put the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” into practice. For credit unions and the CUSOs that serve them, the commitment to helping children is a natural extension of that philosophy. Since 2002, the event has raised more than $9 million to aid children suffering from illness.
For the 12th year, PSCU is underwriting the title sponsorship expenses for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run along with CUNA Mutual Group. The sponsorship helps ensure donations raised by participating credit unions and runners go directly to local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. PSCU’s employees and their families hold the cause of children’s healthcare very close to their hearts. Many of them apply for the chance to participate in the race, and the CUSO proudly sends runners to the event each year. This year’s team will be competing as the PSCU Possibilities Delivered race team.
Lending a Voice
In addition to its support of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, PSCU provides the national trade associations with payments-related data as needed for specific lobbying initiatives, and PSCU representatives serve on various financial services advocacy committees and boards, bringing an industry perspective to important initiatives impacting the entire industry. In today’s political environment, a proactive advocacy campaign is more important than ever. Whether it is behind the scenes or on the frontlines, credit unions everywhere should look for ways to lend their voices to growing the credit union movement. For more information about the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run®, the flagship event in the Credit Union Miracle Day Family of Races, visit MiracleDay.org.
Merry Pateuk is Senior Vice President, Industry Engagement at PSCU. Since 1989, Merry has 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.