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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – What a difference a year makes! At this time last year, NCUA had hosted three Partnering and Leadership Successes workshops with 400 participants. Now, after our first full year of PALS, we have hosted eight free workshops with 1,700 participants. Support for PALS has grown throughout the credit union community: 23 state leagues, CUNA, NAFCU, and the National Federation of CDCUs have co-hosted PALS workshops. Also at this time last year, workshops were the only way to experience PALS. Now, PALS reaches hundreds more credit union officials every day through the Best Practices Website, featuring nearly 500 innovative programs to improve services and attract new members. But PALS is about more than numbers. It’s about taking the “People Helping People” philosophy to the next level: “Credit Unions Helping Credit Unions.” In that spirit, PALS has become more successful than I ever imagined. PALS best practices have inspired credit union officials to offer services that have proven effective in reaching people who need credit unions the most. It’s gratifying to hear from credit union leaders who have implemented new programs as a result of contacts made through PALS. For example, more credit unions are offering predatory lending alternatives, affordable mortgages, and multicultural outreach programs that enrich the lives of new members from all walks of life. As we close out 2004, we are preparing the first PALS workshop of 2005: “How to Serve Everyone in Your Field of Membership.” Whether large or small, federal or state, SEG or community, all credit unions are invited to participate in this free workshop on Feb. 8 in Orlando, Fla. This is just the beginning. As long as I’m an NCUA Board member, I’ll continue to help credit unions of all sizes reach new members, which will strengthen safety and soundness for years to come. Debbie Matz NCUA Board Member Alexandria, Va.

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