April 15, 2014
Credit unions have raised more than $108,300 for survivors of Washington’s deadly mudslide in Oso — money for housing, supplies and other immediate needs that will begin flowing this week to United Way of Snohomish County, the American Red Cross and other relief agencies.
Of that total, more than $65,600 in donations will come from the Northwest Credit Union Association’s #530 Mudslide Fund, which includes contributions from credit unions, their members and their business partners from across the country.
“The support and leadership of credit unions has been inspiring,” says Troy Stang, the NWCUA’s president and CEO. “Not only did they write checks, but they also reached out with a ‘people helping people’ message that resonated deeply with their members. The response has been overwhelming.”
The massive mudslide, which hit March 22 about 55 miles northeast of Seattle, left at least 41 people dead and caused an estimated $10 million in damage. All 41 victims have been identified by the Snohomish County medical examiner; two people remain missing.
Stang says the Northwest Credit Union Foundation seeded the #530 Mudslide Fund with $5,000. That was quickly followed by $5,000 donations from OSU Federal, WSECU and Anchorage-based Alaska USA Federal Credit Union.
Clackamas Federal Credit Union and First Tech Federal Credit Union each contributed $2,500; Fibre Federal, Lower Valley, NW Preferred Federal, Pacific NW Federal, Providence Federal, Salal, School Employees, St. Helens Community Federal, TAPCO, Trailhead, Unitus Community, USAgencies and Valley Credit Union each added $1,000.
Valley Credit Union employees and members also pooled their funds and donated online, adding an additional $530 to the total. Cowlitz Credit Union and NW Plus Credit Union both donated $750. Central Willamette Community, MountainCrest, NW Priority, Seattle Metropolitan and SnoCope Credit Union all contributed $500 apiece.
TwinStar Credit Union employees raised $254 dollars by asking members to pay for parking at the credit union’s corporate offices in Lacy. At Newrizons Federal Credit Union, employees sold cookies and raffle tickets. At Our Community Credit Union, staff joined local firefighters and police in collecting donations and much-needed supplies — and also donated $500 to the #530 Mudslide Fund.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose everything, especially so quickly,” says Valley Credit Union employee Katie Clark. “The least we can do is support them.”
Credit unions across the Northwest used their websites and social media channels to reach out to members, including American Lake, Global, Horizon, Lacamas Community, Numerica, Pacific Crest Federal, People’s Community Federal, Point West, Spokane Federal, Verity, Wauna and Woodstone. At least 85 individual donors responded with direct contributions to the fund.
Donations also poured in from across the country. Credit unions, leagues and business partners in seven states and individual donors in nine states — some from as far away as Alabama and New York — sent contributions.
Through its employee giving program, BECU launched a 2-for-1 match for all donations over $25. Through April 4, donations from employees to relief efforts had totaled $11,858. BECU added $23,716 in matching funds for a total of $35,574, and said it would begin delivering checks to the American Red Cross and United Way of Snohomish County on April 15.
Gesa Credit Union followed through on its pledge to match community members’ donations dollar for dollar; on Friday, the credit union announced that it had raised $7,460. STCU honored its ongoing relationship with the Red Cross in the Spokane area with an “Oso Strong!” campaign; through April 9, it had raised more than $2,100.
Qualstar Credit Union is still pointing its members to a fundraising campaign for member Ty Suddarth, his partner, Amanda Skorjanc, and their baby, Duke, who lost their home and all of their possessions in the mudslide. Suddarth was running errands when the slide hit, but Amanda and Duke were both home. They survived, although both suffered critical injuries.
Amanda is still being treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but 24-week-old Duke was released from Seattle Children's Hospital on April 9. Through Tuesday morning, the fund for Suddarth and his family had raised nearly $20,000 toward a goal of $30,000 to pay for clothing, household items and medical expenses.
Money from the #530 Mudslide Fund will go directly to United Way of Snohomish County, Stang says, and will be earmarked for housing, supplies and other immediate needs.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families,” he says. “Credit union member or not, they are our neighbors, and our credit unions will continue to do whatever they can to help them recover from this terrible tragedy.”
Questions about this story? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216, firstname.lastname@example.org.