Mike Welch seems determined to portray CUNA as coming up short in its membership policies in his recent column ("There are different ways to define membership", Credit Union Times, September 19, 2001). He complains that CUNA member credit unions are not "direct" members as they are in NAFCU because they must also belong to their state leagues. And he seems to think this is a bad thing. But in his reliance on semantics, Mr. Welch completely ignores the core differences between the two trade associations. NAFCU exists to represent a small number of federally chartered credit unions in a limited way. NAFCU has no need for leagues because it cares only for federal issues. CUNA exists to coordinate the efforts of thousands of credit unions in every state working cooperatively through their state leagues to educate and inform credit unions and to lobby on their behalf in every state and the nation's capitol. CUNA could not do this job without state leagues. The leagues could not do what they do without CUNA. Together they bring a dimension in service, responsiveness and result that NAFCU cannot hope to emulate. As a former long time employee of a federally chartered credit union and now a league employee, I've experienced the benefits of membership in both CUNA, through the Idaho Credit Union League, and NAFCU. Although each association has its value, CUNA's relationship with state leagues makes it the only national voice that can reliably say that it speaks for all credit unions. Mr. Welch's implication that CUNA's structure is unfair because some nonmember credit unions may not get to take advantage of CUNA's outstanding educational offerings bypasses the fact that those offerings were made possible by the very state associations he would like to see go away. Without those leagues CUNA would be just another NAFCU. CUNA does not seek to be that, however. Its mission is, and always has been, to coordinate the efforts of the national credit union movement through state leagues. With the state leagues, CUNA forms the structure that helps us retain the credit union identity. CUNA, through the leagues, helps promote the credit union ideal through numerous events held in each state. International Credit Union Day celebrations, Credit Unions for Kids Campaigns, and CULAC events, to name but a few, help to bring credit union people together on the local level. League chapters provide a forum for professionals and volunteers alike to get to know one another, to share ideas and to use their combined efforts to help the community. Managers and staff network more often because of league supported events. Such idea exchanges are useful on a local level because of the unique circumstances within each states boundaries. No national organization can do that alone. Associations such as NAFCU simply do not have the knowledge of local issues or the time necessary to adequately represent credit unions on the local level. Credit unions do not band together to paint the house of an elderly person or send staff members to schools to educate students about credit because Dan Mica or Fred Becker sends them there. No, they work together through chapters and committees created and supported by their state leagues. In fact, if there were no state-level associations today, I am confident Mike Welch would be trumpeting his horn for someone to create them. So instead of complaining about something that doesn't need fixing, Mike, let's hear something about what a great value CUNA and league membership really is. Valerie Brooks Regulatory & Governmental Affairs Specialist Idaho Credit Union League Boise, Idaho

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