SAN DIMAS, Calif. -- NPR listeners will like the flavor of a new podcast series produced by WesCorp, which shares the human side of credit unions.
With two episodes already posted on the corporate's Web site, Surviving Katrina is hosted by Account Executive Amy Rapp, who got the idea to retrospectively profile the hurricane-damaged credit unions while attending a conference in New Orleans this past June. While in town, Rapp paid a visit to WesCorp member University of New
Orleans Credit Union, and was touched by the stories of CEO Chris Maurer and his staff.
"They told me they packed up their cars and thought they would be gone for the weekend, and didn't come home for several months," Rapp said. "But, the drive to keep the credit union going and get members access to their money remained a top priority. To think that these people would put other people before themselves in a situation as stressful as losing your home is really a testament to their character."
Luckily, the $20 million credit union's headquarters is on the university campus, which escaped major flood damage. However, the staff did not return to the home office until January 2006, many commuting 100 miles one way to a temporary office, hosted by a Baton Rogue credit union. Many staff members also lost their homes.
Rapp said she plans to continue the podcast after the Katrina episodes are finished, and will focus on profiles of small credit unions, who she encourages to come forward with their
unique stories and resourceful solutions.
"These are credit union stories you just don't hear very often, and the idea of the series is to let credit unions share who they are and what they can do, whether it's how they educate the underserved or how they saved data in a natural disaster," Rapp said.
The podcasts are recorded by WesCorp Public Relations Director Walter Laskos in his San Dimas office, as Rapp interviews subjects by phone.
"I have a laptop that has recording software on it, and a little gizmo that attaches to the telephone, and we record the conversation right into the laptop," Laskos said. "What's nice is with audio only, unlike television, your mind has to create the pictures, so in some respects, the medium is a little more engaging."
Laskos said the podcast was originally intended to be shared among WesCorp employees, to raise awareness of the importance of their small asset sized members.
"This helps us remember that in addition to all the investment and payment systems stuff we do, we are also a credit union. We're all about our members, large or small."