CU Donations Feed Thousands

 ‘Make your impression count in a positive way.’

February 1, 2012

Some insights from Noelle Fischer-Herbert, vice president, corporate development, Pacific Service CU, Walnut Creek, Calif.:

A major goal of Pacific Service CU’s community-giving program: Identify year-round giving opportunities in each of the 12 counties we serve. Charitable organizations receiving food donations in the past year included The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties, the Salvation Army, Bay Area Rescue Mission, Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa County, Open Heart Kitchen, Poverello House, Huckleberry Youth Program, Shih Yu-Lang YMCA culinary education program, and many others.

Funds donated for 2011 provided more than 130,000 meals to individuals in need. In addition to food, the credit union regularly donates office equipment, funds for educational purposes, and money for treating medical needs.

Our community service program really took off: Back in 2000. Our board of directors asked what Pacific Service was doing to be a good corporate citizen in the communities we serve. By 2001, we had an active community-giving program that focused on 501(c)(3) charities and the needs they had to fulfill their service to their local communities. Pacific Service works through these charities to provide and/or distribute services to low-income, at-risk sectors of our communities.

Donations spiked during the recent holiday season: After the charities our credit union supports told us the demand for assistance
by families and individuals had dramatically increased during the past year, we stepped up donations during the holidays. Many of the charitable organizations we work with told us assistance necessary  for needy families increased by as much as 50%. The credit union donated funds to 10 nonprofit organi¬zations to provide meals, groceries, blankets, and toys during the holidays.

The 12 counties in our field of membership are: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Napa, Marin, Placer, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and Sacramento. The demographics in this field of membership are very diverse—including people of all ages, cultures, and income levels.

Pacific Service is best known for: Providing excellent member service. We hire an independent agency to regularly survey our members. On a scale of 1 (poor) to 4 (excellent) we regularly score in the high 3.9 range. The survey also includes scores by department and individual employee. We do this to identify service trends. When service dips or improves, we explore the reasons behind the results.

In addition to a diverse membership, we also have diverse branches: Two of our branches include community rooms. Local charities can use these rooms
without charge for meetings and special events. Each branch also
has a computer center where members can access their accounts through our home-banking service and our website.

Next big CU adventure: We’re relocating our headquarters/administrative office in third-quarter 2012.

The most gratifying aspects of my job are:

  • Satisfying members by providing products, services, and rates that are among the best in our marketplace.
  • Working with credit union staff to improve our products, services, and rates to better serve our members.
  • Identifying where the credit union can better serve the needs of the low-income, at-risk sectors of the communities we serve.

My best advice for new CU employees: Whatever project you undertake, apply your best to it. What you do and say reflects on the type of person you are and leaves a lasting impression. Make that impression count in a positive way.

I’m optimistic about the future of CUs because: As more people turn to alternatives to large banks, credit unions can play a much larger role in their communities and their markets.