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October 2011Vol 2, Issue 10
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We can make a difference
Message From


Approximately ten months ago I was gliding across a very snowy Interstate 94 east of Bismarck, heading to Montana from my home state of New York. Having no clue what I ought to expect in a state that I had neither visited nor had heard much about made me a little nervous. However, it was not long before being captivated by the awe inspiring beauty of the treasure state that my mind was at ease. And, after delving into the credit union movement as well as the community of Billings I have become certain of one conclusion: Montana is now home. No matter where I travel in Montana, I feel part of a greater and tight knit community, perhaps this state really is a small town with really long streets.


A striking feature of Montana is the sense of community, embodied by the statewide presence of cooperatives. From electric, energy, and agricultural cooperatives to health, telecommunication, and food cooperatives, Montanans know how to work together to meet the needs of and empower local communities. Did you know that Montana's credit unions are also cooperatives? Credit unions are not for profit, member owned, democratically run, community oriented and driven institutions that are in fact financial cooperatives. Take time this month to learn more about the cooperative advantage and the difference that credit unions are making across the state.


Be proud and feel good about the benefits that our credit unions and other cooperatives are bringing daily to communities across Montana. But remember, these benefits came through the labors of cooperation and should be similarly appreciated in a collective manner through the sharing of individual stories of empowerment and positive change in our local communities.




Thor Kasenko
MCUCD AmeriCorps*VISTA - Outreach

In This Issue
Making a Difference
VISTA Project Wins National Award
October Consumer Topic
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International Credit Union Day
October 20, 2011

Making A Difference


What's Your Co-op I.Q.?

Each October, cooperatives all across America celebrate the role, accomplishments and contributions of our nation's co-ops.


Cooperatives are ethical businesses, born out of self-help and responsibility, dedicated to serving the needs of their member-owners. They are local and democratically-controlled enterprises. This mix of self-help and mutual aid has made cooperatives a force for good. That's an enterprise worth celebrating!


So how's your Co-op IQ? Did you know...

  • Coop MonthAbout 1.2 million rural Americans in 31 states are served by 260 telephone cooperatives.
  • More than 900 rural electric
    co-ops deliver electricity to more than 42 million people in 47 states. This makes up 42 percent of the nation's electric distribution lines and covers 75 percent of our country's land mass.
  • Over 7,500 credit unions (financial cooperatives!) provide financial services to 91 million U.S. consumers.

To learn more, visit Watch a short and inspiring new YouTube video on co-ops here 

MCUCD VISTA Project Wins National Award
Earlier this month, the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Pro and Blockbuster award winners for 2011 were announced. We are pleased to announce that MCUCD brought home honors for our Small Loan Public Awareness Campaign! The Campaign was developed by our past AmeriCorps*VISTA member, Jim Auer, who served with MCUCD July 2009-2010. 


Deeming it "just about as good as it gets: great service, great connection to financial mission, great communications planning and execution," the judges named the campaign "Best Community Relations Program" and awarded it "Best of Show" in the Pro awards as well as a first place Blockbuster in the "Best Credit Union Ad" category. The Pro Awards focus on public relations, publications, and online communications; the Blockbuster Awards on advertising and marketing.


Of course, the most important impact isn't the award, but the increased number of people accessing affordable small loan products and avoiding predatory lending products. Members like Tammy at Trico Community Federal Credit Union in Helena. 

hand-drawn car -- image on small loans tv psa


A single mother raising her son by herself has struggled to stay on her feet but has kept a positive attitude. After her primary financial institution was not able to help her, she went to Trico Community FCU looking for some money to help her move her and her son into a nicer place. Although unable to help her with a conventional loan, they offered her their People Helping People Loan (Trico's alternative to Payday loans).


The $400 PHP loan Tammy received was promptly paid back and she returned to do another. This time it was to buy some clothes for her son, as he is 6'4" 280 lbs and wears a size 17 shoe. With no places in town that offer clothes his size they must order through the internet. Through the People Helping People Loan, Trico has gained a loyal new member, providing her an affordable option to help provide for her family.

Consumer Topic of the Month
Identity Theft
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Identity theft continues to be a growing crime in America. October 17 - 24 is National Protect Your Identity Week, but because of the seriousness of this issue, MCUCD is devoting the entire month of October to helping Montana consumers protect their identity and privacy.
Visit the Consumer Topic of the Month to learn more about what you can do to defend, detect and deter ID theft.