ST. LOUIS -- Armed with many questions, attendees at a Neighbors Credit Union's seminar wondered how the markets' upheavals may impact their investments.
The $205 million credit union held a workshop at the Maryland Heights Community Center on Sept. 25 on selecting investments that match individual objectives, how to limit exposure to risk and how to help money accumulate with tax-advantaged accounts. The session came during the same week the nation's stock markets floundered and bank buyouts and collapses came fast and furiously.
Among the attendees were a retiree and members 10, 20 and 40 years away from retirement, respectively, said Jill Finder, marketing analyst at Neighbors. Most of the questions asked focused on the current market and why investments are not doing as well as in previous years.
"Prior to the start of the seminar, there was a lot of discussion on the current house market; both older individuals have been trying to sell their homes for a couple years and are not having any luck," Finder said. "They also are concerned with their county's property tax, food, fuel [and other costs] increasing but their income not."
Some asked where they should invest now while others new to investing asked about the differences and benefits of stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
Finder said Neighbors has held eight educational seminars this year on individual retirement accounts, credit reports, consumer protections and home buying. The credit union is hoping to schedule another investment fundamentals seminar again this year.
"Our commitment to the community and to our members extends beyond simply offering financial services. We are committed to helping people evaluate their financial situations and giving them the tools to help them make informed decisions. As part of that commitment, we use seminars like this one to provide members with sound financial information," said Beth Hurst, a representative with Neighbors.
SAC FCU Slates Fourth Grocery Branch
OMAHA, Neb. -- With an eye on reaching working parents, SAC Federal Credit Union is expanding its number of in-store grocery branches this fall.
SAC successfully opened its first grocery branch in a Hy-Vee store a year ago, and three more of the facilities are in the works in metropolitan Omaha by year-end.
"We were pleased that the Super Saver chain actually took out video stores to make room for us, and another chain even asked us to come in to replace a bank," said Jackie Boryca, vice president of marketing.
The latest full-service facility at a Super Saver in Millard will have its grand opening ceremonies Nov. 5 followed by two more store openings Nov. 15 at a Super Saver in Council Bluffs, Idaho, and at a Hy-Vee store Nov. 19, which once housed a Bank of the West branch.
Boryca said its vendor, Georgia-based Financial Supermarkets Inc., helped broker the deal with both chains.
The new Millard facility will offer extended evening and weekend hours, including Sundays and will provide a complete range of financial services. SAC opened its first grocery branch in a Hy-Vee store in Papillion.
"We've had a very good response from our first branch, particularly from working moms who like the extended hours, seven-day-a-week operation," said Boryca citing the favorable demographics.
Michigan CUs Return Favor to
Nonprofit Trauma Counseling Agency
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- A group of central Michigan credit unions, many the victims of branch robberies in recent years, have won the chance to give back to a Kalamazoo crisis center that administered special counseling services to a number of CU employees.
As it turned out, Gryphon Place, a nonprofit trauma counseling agency, was thrilled to benefit from the CU generosity in the form of a $2,500 check.
"These are hard economic times in our state, and so we're surprised and grateful for the grant which means a lot to us," declared Bill Pell, executive director of Gryphon Place.
The $2,500 was handed over to Pell early last month by the l2-member Kalamazoo chapter of the Michigan Credit Union League at a chapter dinner celebration.
Gryphon Place, said John Sink, chapter chair and president/CEO of the $71 million Allegis CU of Kalamazoo, has become a partner to credit unions in the wake of the robberies that have hit both banks and CUs.
Dozens of employees from area CUs, said Sink, took part in Gryphon group counseling following the robberies, occurring at both CU offices and branches, and some were categorized as particularly violent.
"Although fortunately no one was hurt, MSRs and other staff from Allegis who were involved in one robbery at our credit union found this kind of an outlet helpful in letting employees discuss feelings," explained Lindsay Smith, director of marketing.
The chapter's executive committee, said Sink, decided the $2,500 raised at a Sept. 8 golf outing be directed to Gryphon because the agency "lives the credit union philosophy of people helping people."
After one of Allegis branch was robbed in February 2006, "we sent the entire staff to Gryphon Place in groups," said Smith, noting a division between those who were on the scene and those who were not working that day or at another site.
"The robbery affected everyone in some way, and the staff at Gryphon Place gave us an outlet to discuss what happened and what we were feeling at the time," said Smith.
Sink said in singling out Gryphon, the chapter group wanted to show appreciation to an agency that gives help to anyone in the Kalamazoo area who needs it.
Pell said the $2,500 was one of the largest grants the agency has received from a single business group in recent years. Gryphon provides its suicide and trauma counseling services to a number of retail and business organizations and relies on both public and private funding.
The $2,500 was raised from golf fees and donations at the chapter's 20th annual golf outing held Sept. 8 at a Vicksburg, Mich., club. Fifteen credit unions attended the outing that included more than 40 vendors, many of whom helped sponsor the event.