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SAN FRANCISCO -Two CUNA-led hurricane-aid programs -”Adopt a Credit Union” and locate/ship mobile branches to Gulf Coast CUs – picked up steam last week during the Future Forum conference. At last count, there were five CUs publicly committed to “Adopt a CU,” a program first started by the Florida League Sept. 2 and subsequently taken over by CUNA. And there were new plans last week to allow groups of CUs to combine in a sharing pact for a single needy CU. Credit union executives involved in “Adopt” have largely been reticent about the publicity attached to the effort for fear of appearing eager for special recognition or notoriety. But CUNA officials stress that the commitment can be long term-up to two years -and requires considerable expense and hours of staff time plus shipping of equipment, and financing. “Look, we’re not even sure yet what these credit unions need but we’re happy to assist and we are encouraging others to sign up because we believe others would do the same for us if we needed help,” explained William Rissel, president/CEO of Fort Knox FCU, Radcliff, Ky. partnering with Gulfcoast Community CU in Gulfport, Miss. Fort Knox has already extended, said Rissel, “a certain amount of liquidity” to Gulfcoast which he declined to detail. On Sept. 22 the $1.5 billion Bellco CU in Denver said it would help with a supply and equipment bailout for Jackson County CU, of Pascagoula, Miss. which lost its building. “I did have a conversation yesterday with Lara Roberts, the CEO of Jackson County, who was overwhelmed by the offer with our CEO, Doug Ferraro, telling them to start buying whatever equipment and supplies they need and just leave it on a Bellco account at Home Depot,” said Sandra Blodgett, chief operating officer of Bellco. In handling member accounts, Jackson County is operating temporarily out of a borrowed site of another Mississippi CU, said Blodgett “but the only contact we could make was on her cell phone.” Bellco was making arrangements to fly in three of its executives into Mississippi to assist Jackson County get back on its feet. Another CU on the “Adopt” list was Bronco FCU, Franklin, Va. partnered with Gulfport CBC of Gulfport, Miss. Meanwhile. John Tippets, president/CEO of American Airlines FCU in Fort Worth, said his CU is matched with Delta and Hope Community CU of Jackson, Miss. which first “thought their New Orleans branch was under water” but conditions have improved. Still, “we will be making a $100,000 share deposit to help fund” loans for disaster victims and like Bellco will send AAFCU staff to Mississippi if requested. CUNA’s new treasurer, Tom Dorety, CEO of Suncoast Federal Credit Union in Tampa, said he has made arrangements to assist a Louisiana CU “but I don’t think it’s right to give out their name without their permission.” Dorety’s name was mentioned by CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica as a new participant, but Dorety admitted he was taken aback by the announcement. “I had two of my directors in the audience and I think they might have been a little surprised to hear about it,” said Dorety. On mobile branches, CUNA officials continued to work feverishly to find and ship the mobile facilities into the Gulf Coast and at the same time sign up CUs willing to shoulder the cost of the monthly leases as well as pick up the tab for transport. Roughly seven of the branches are now on order from two vendors with plans to ship some soon to Gulf Coast CUs with three already in place, CUNA said. “The supply of these buildings has been limited due to the high demand after Katrina,” said Rick Govek, product manager for CUNA Strategic Services. “We may be able to get buildings sooner as they become available from the suppliers. “Our aim is to turn the leases over to the credit unions when possible so that we can use our resources to secure additional buildings if we have the demand for them,” said Govek. “If the credit union using the building is not able to take on the lease payments we are looking to other credit unions to help with those expenses.” The modular branches range in price from $2,000 – $3,000 per month “depending on the size of the building, specific equipment included, and lease term.” In addition, there are additional expenses for delivery, set-up, steps utilities, computers and phones. -

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