Terry Belcoe, president/CEO of the $137 million North Coast Credit Union in Bellingham, Wash. comes from the school that CU managers need to stop talking so much about claiming the high ground on community involvement and really "put up or shut up."
Which is why his CU is going to extra trouble this winter to support a "Mountains of Hope" penny drive, dumping thousands of coins into CU branches, bundled up to support a needy charity served by the Skagit County Community Action Agency.
The CU's participation in "Mountains of Hope," launched last year by a Mt. Vernon minister to raise $1 million in pennies, "has not made me too popular with my tellers and back office staff," but the employees have gone along enthusiastically," said Belcoe.
"As credit union managers, I think sometimes we get so caught up in celebrating the heart and soul of being credit unions that we may claim the moral high ground as a given, almost a 'birthright' but it is something that must be won and held through hard work and genuine commitment," maintains Belcoe.
Fortunately, the "Mountains of Hope" drive has reaped reams of good press for North Coast across northern Washington State with the campaign also profiled in national news coverage including on the Associated Press wire.
The "Mountains of Hope" effort began with the CU accepting "a wheelbarrow full of pennies as an installment on the $1 million goal as advanced by Mt. Vernon resident Rand O'Donnell, who has so far raised more than $5,000, all in pennies.
O'Donnel has said he hopes the fund will generate enough interest income to provide a steady source of revenue for the Skagit agency, which helps families with emergency food, fuel and clothing.
Belcoe said North Coast in accepting pennies at branches is insisting they be wrapped "and so far that has worked out well." He said he was unsure how long the campaign would last "but we're ready to go into the summer with it."