State Employees Credit Union of Maryland considers it a sound business practice to be involved in community outreach and advocacy. The investment we make in our communities has benefits that extend well beyond those who receive the charitable contributions. Not only is our image as a financial services provider enhanced, but employees take pride in knowing their employer is going above and beyond in giving back to their communities.
Our community and our members can't help but notice we care about them beyond just providing financial products and services. Our brand image is enhanced when we are actively participating in a community charity. We are putting our people-before-profit philosophy into action with tangible results.
Through a variety of events, such as this week's eighth annual Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, collectively through Credit Unions for Kids, credit unions raised more than $9 million last year benefiting Children's Miracle Network and its affiliated children's hospitals nationwide. That figure places Credit Unions for Kids as the third-highest fundraiser behind Wal-Mart and Costco.
SECU has been a sponsor of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run for several years. Called the "Runners' Rite of Spring," this year's run on April 5 is truly a world-class sporting event that has been sponsored by credit unions and their business partners for eight years. More than $3 million has been donated to children's hospital across the country through the event. In 2008 alone, more than $1 million was donated to 170 children's hospitals that treat more than 17 million children annually in all 50 states.
Where does the money eventually go? Consider this story of a child being treated by Children's Hospital Philadelphia. In February 2008, Pearce Quesenberry, age 11, was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a small lemon and immediately underwent surgery. Doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia were able to remove most of the tumor; several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation followed. Her parents acknowledge the staff at the hospital for their daughter's recovery. "We have been given the diagnoses of NED or 'no evidence of disease' since November 2008," said her dad. "This is a joyful thing to any family of a child with cancer."
Despite the economy, kids like Pearce still need help and the hospitals need donations.
The run, held in Washington during the Cherry Blossom Festival, generates national exposure but has tremendous local impact. All the money raised by credit unions, wherever they are located, is returned to local hospitals. So by contributing to this event, you really are benefiting the Children's Miracle Network hospital that serves your community.
There are 12,000 runners (half of which are credit union members) and, of those, about 600 are Capitol Hill leaders and their staff. What credit unions do for their communities is highly evident during the race, including the 600 volunteers that help on race day. This gives us a huge opportunity to demonstrate the credit union difference.
There is no other event-solely sponsored by credit unions-that offers such enormous impact, the potential to improve the lives of sick children in all 50 states, the potential to make a difference locally, and the potential to showcase the credit union difference nationally.
The investment in sponsorship has two returns: money to help children in need of medical care, and increased awareness of the credit union brand.
When it comes to community outreach and advocacy, it is essential we keep the momentum going. Whatever activity your credit union engages in to help our members, our community leaders, our nation's leaders and the media need to know what we are doing. As credit union leaders, we represent trusted, locally owned, and ethical financial cooperatives. In this current environment, the public needs such service organizations more than ever. We are in the spotlight.
Together, we can make an extraordinary, positive impact in our communities year-round. From the cooperative credit union grassroots, the future of our country looks brighter.
For more information about the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, visit www.miracleday.org.
Rod Staatz is the CEO of SECU of Maryland. He can be reached at 410-487-7010 or