Nine months after the Haiti earthquake, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and its foundation are teaming up with Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU to send a delegation to the country this Monday to assess aid help.
Specifically, the group will assess rebuilding the country's international remittance system as well as explore new CU partnerships. The group includes the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation's executive director, Joseph Wambach, and his Haitian-born wife, Maryse, a doctor.
Christine M. Woods, president/CEO of the West Chester-based, $75 million Keystone FCU, is also making the trip. "We feel strongly that as credit union leaders we have an obligation to do our part on the world stage to assist when tragedy strikes," she said.
Woods, a foundation director, is absorbing a good portion of the personal expenses to make the two-week journey, but donations are also coming from Keystone members. She said the Haiti trek will focus on how Pennsylvania CUs and Mid-Atlantic might fix the damaged remittance system between the U.S. and Haiti.
She said the group will also consider potential World Council of Credit Union partnerships involving PCUA and the Haitian CU system, Haitian Caisses Populaires.
Months ago Keystone FCU distributed appeal letters to its members in order to raise donations. The letters promoted a chance to win tickets to a Philadelphia Flyers hockey game.
"Help send our president/CEO with the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation to assess the international remittance needs in Haiti and you could win an evening at a Flyers game," it said.
Unfortunately, Keystone said, the system for sending money and supplies to Haiti needs improvement, considering that "the methods used to send remittances are not always the most attractive and beneficial to those who have the means to send them."
Woods explained that CUs can help "by providing safe and affordable alternatives for money transfer services to counter the exorbitant fees being charged by other remittance agencies." In this way, CUs "are able to serve the unbanked and underserved."
In addition to Woods and the Wambachs, the group also contains
David Ackerman, president/CEO of USX FCU, Cranberry Twp., and vice chairman of the foundation.He is in the country also to work on emergency projects on behalf of his church.