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Credit Unions for Kids Making Miracles Happen

Credit Unions for Kids Making Miracles Happen By Cyndi Cohen
Published April 5, 2012
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Credit unions exist to help people. They offer members exceptional service, helpful advice, better rates, and lower fees. But above this, credit unions have a vested interest in the communities and people they serve. This genuine sense of member commitment coupled with a dedicated effort to improving the world around them, make credit unions community servants in the truest sense. And Credit Unions for Kids, a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners from across the country, engaged in fundraising activities to benefit 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals), is the epitome of this credit union credo.

Joe Dearborn, Senior Director of Credit Unions for Kids, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (Salt Lake City, UT) says that he feels very fortunate to be working with the credit union community. “They demonstrate every day the ‘people helping people’ philosophy by tirelessly working on behalf of the kids and families served by our CMN Hospitals.”

Credit Unions for Kids adopted the CMN Hospitals as its movement’s charity of choice, making credit unions the 3rd largest corporate contributor to CMN Hospitals behind only Wal-Mart and Costco. “Credit unions have raised over $100 million since 1996; $8.7 million in 2010 alone -- this wonderful 16-year partnership has benefitted both our hospitals and the credit unions’ mission to serve the local community,” explains Dearborn.

A Lifesaver is Born

Credit Unions for Kids started simultaneously in Portland, OR/SW WA and San Antonio during the mid-1980s. It was introduced as a CMN Hospitals national program in 1996 and became the charity of choice for America’s credit unions. Credit Unions for Kids is the brand under which America’s credit unions fundraise for CMN Hospitals.

CU4Kids’ primary mission is to raise funds and awareness for CMN Hospitals throughout the United States. It also provides an opportunity for credit unions to demonstrate the “people helping people” philosophy on both a local and national level, explains Dearborn. “CU4Kids donations go to fund research, patient services, new facilities, equipment, health education programs, and uncompensated or charity care for 17 million hospitalized kids annually.”

One hundred percent of every dollar donated by members of the credit union movement goes back to the CMN Hospital which serves individual communities and members. CMN Hospitals is actually the world’s largest children’s charity. Each year, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals:

  • Provide $2.5 billion in charity care
  • Support cutting edge, life-saving research
  • Develop new, innovative technology which eases pain and lengthens lives
  • Treat 98% of all children needing heart or lung transplants
  • Treat 88% of all children with cancer
  • Treat 76% of all children with cystic fibrosis
  • Treat 72% of all children with pediatric AIDS

Credit Unions Making a True Difference in Children’s Lives

Dearborn says that somewhere between 2000-2500 credit union entities fundraise annually for the CMN hospitals. “That includes individual credit unions, chapters, state leagues/associations, the two national trade organizations, vendors and trade publications.”

Ohio HealthCare Federal Credit Union (Dublin, OH) has supported Credit Unions for Kids for years, conducting fundraisers throughout the year and annually raising thousands of dollars for their local CMN hospital. According to Jaime Crooks, Marketing Director, 6 years ago Ohio HealthCare FCU’s CEO came up with a fundraising brain child known as Marching Miles (www.marchingmiles.com). The event, now spearheaded by a statewide steering committee of which Crooks is the Chair, raises money collaboratively among all Ohio credit unions for the Ohio hospitals.

The credit union feels strongly about choosing a charity that helps those in their backyard. “The structure of CU4Kids does just that; In addition, we specifically serve the healthcare industry so it’s a perfect fit,” says Crooks.

The work being done in Ohio funds uncompensated care, equipment, and things that allow a hospital to provide the finest pediatric healthcare available. Dollars raised provides top notch equipment for the kids as well as the ability to cover costs for those that can’t afford treatment. “CMN hospitals don’t turn children away, and I’m all for raising money for things that will make a child smile a little more while they’re living in a hospital!,” exclaims Crooks.

Crooks says that the children and families being helped are very grateful. A variety of families have happily volunteered to speak at credit union fundraising events knowing that their inspirational words get people motivated to do more. “Their words of thanks speak wonders…we know they are grateful and are speaking on behalf of everyone treated at a CMN Hospital,” says Crooks.

Also serving on CMN Hospitals’ National Young Leaders for Kids Board and the parent of 3 young children who are a motivating force, Crooks describes the work as rewarding, emotional, and challenging. “We’re supporting our local community…and oftentimes it’s our very own members and their families. It’s my goal, my mission, and my challenge to get as many credit unions on board with supporting CU4Kids,” contends Crooks.

Miracle Match from CO-OP Financial Services works with CMN Hospitals to help treat millions of sick and injured children. By applying and participating in Miracle Match, the money credit unions raise for kids is matched, nearly doubling their power to save the lives of hospitalized children within the community.

Launched in 2008, Miracle Match is a $1 million philanthropic matching program that encourages credit unions, chapters and leagues to create and participate in local CMNH fundraisers. All matching funds go directly to the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital, benefiting sick children in the local community. An organization’s participation also enables them to create partnerships with neighboring credit unions to enhance their ability to implement new fundraising initiatives.

No matter how much money is raised, Miracle Match from CO-OP increases the funds for life-saving essentials. More than 150 credit unions participated last year and they are striving for even more this year!

PSCU (St. Petersburg, FL) is the lead business partner for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, which is held each spring in Washington D.C. According to Merry Pateuk, Director Public Relations, this prestigious event has generated more than $5 million in donations to Children’s Miracle Network/ Credit Unions for Kids since the credit union industry began sponsorship of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run 11 years ago. PSCU continues to invest in these events because they help children across the country obtain much-needed medical care while simultaneously spotlighting attention on the credit union industry’s impact to their communities.

The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (Tallahassee, FL) has been involved with CU4Kids since 1996. Through the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation, LSCU provides support and resources to credit unions and chapters as they implement fundraising projects across the two states of Alabama and Florida. The support of credit unions for CU4Kids and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals means that children across Alabama and Florida will continue to have access to state-of-the-art medical facilities and that no child will be turned away. Their efforts are helping to improve the quality of life for children in both states and are also helping to save lives.

Patrick La Pine, President/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions says that their credit union activities range from selling paper miracle balloons in the credit union lobby to huge projects. Right now, the League is raising $300,000 to build a therapeutic playground at All Children’s Hospital in the Tampa area in honor of the Republican National Convention which will be held in Tampa in August. Today, the existing space is simply concrete, grass and a handful of picnic tables. “Currently under-utilized, this area will become a vital part of the Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Autism programs at All Children’s,” explains La Pine. In just a few short months, the new playground will have a track around it, where children with disabilities and injuries will learn to use their muscles again – in a relaxed, fun and safe environment. Monkey bars, swings and a climbing wall will be added – and by creating opportunities for children to strengthen their muscles by playing instead of doing routine exercises in a gym, spirits are raised and healing time is shortened. There will be a sensory garden which incorporates touch, smell, sight and sound to help autistic children.

Alabama and Florida credit unions raised over $625k last year for their CMN Hospitals, and CUs specifically in the Tampa Bay area have a long history of supporting All Children’s Hospital. “From raising $1.5M to fund a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to most recently, pledging another $1.5M to fund the construction of a new Center for Autism, credit unions have stepped up to the plate time and time again,” says La Pine.

La Pine, a National CU4Kids Advisory Board Director, was born with a Heart Murmur himself, and some of his earliest memories are of going to Children’s Hospital of Michigan once a year through his teens for annual check-ups. This has inspired him to be actively engaged in raising money for their children’s hospitals. “When you are around the kids it inspires you to do as much as you can to help them; the LSCU is committed to raising money for our Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Alabama and Florida,” contends La Pine.

La Pine says that while the LSCU has good participation from their credit unions and chapters, they are continually working to improve that level of participation. Children from across the two states are treated at the eight Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Alabama and Florida. “We all know someone who has either been treated at one of the hospitals or has a family member who has been treated there - we are working to leverage those personal and corporate connections to improve our fundraising efforts in Alabama and Florida.”

Get Involved with CU4Kids

If you are a credit union member or employee who would like to see your CU become a Credit Unions for Kids supporter, check out the official website, cu4kids.org, for details and contact info. You will also find some useful best practices and turnkey campaigns to complement your current Credit Unions for Kids initiatives at cu4kids.org.

Not only is Credit Unions for Kids the most comprehensive fundraising vehicle for members of the credit union movement, but the children and families who you are helping and whose lives you are changing will be eternally grateful.

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