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NEW YORK – Joy Cousminer, CEO of the $8.6 million dollar Bethex FCU and tireless advocate for community development credit unions and credit unions’ mission to the underserved has been recognized with the National Credit Union Foundation’s Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Individual Achievement. Cousminer’s credit union career began in 1970 when, working with low-income single mothers in her apartment, she became aware of the obstacles the women faced in saving money and getting credit. In the 35 years since, Bethex has become known for keeping its heart with low-income members and taking risks for their sakes. In 2002, Bethex, based in Brooklyn and Actors FCU, based in Manhattan, were the first two credit unions to strike a deal with local check cashers in New York which would let their members make deposits to their checking accounts from the check cashers’ facilities, effectively giving the CUs limited branching services all over the metro area. Since then other credit unions and check cashers in New York and other states have either joined the relationship, started their own or are studying the idea. Cousminer has long been known for an almost cantankerous willingness to speak her mind on behalf of low-income credit union members and to work tirelessly on their behalf. At age 79, she still puts in several evenings a week working as a volunteer in Bethex’s Voluteer Income Tax Assistance Center, helping members fill out their tax returns and qualify for the low income tax credit. Most recently Bethex partnered with three local firms which send international remittances and needed a lower cost financial institution in which to house their accounts. “We believe that banks having a monopoly over international remittance services in the Bronx would not be good for our immigrant and low-income members,” Cousminer said. “Joy continues to shame me and others who cannot seem to match her vigor, her energy, or her passion,” said Kelly Schermerhorn, VP of CES Credit Union in Mount Vernon, Ohio, who nominated Cousminer for the Wegner Award. “Joy’s unique power to persuade anybody and everybody to do something to aid in her endeavor to provide affordable financial services separates her as a leader of leaders.” Cousminer will receive the award at the NCUF’s Herb Wegner Awards Dinner in Washington DC on Feb. 26 2006.

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