Albertans work hard for their money, and credit unions work hard for Albertans. An important driver of this province’s overall economy, credit unions represent more than 3,300 jobs and $788.8 million in direct GDP contribution – and play a big role in local economies, through consumer and business loans, community financial services and local donations and sponsorships.
“We try to be out in the community as much as possible, supporting everything from the town parade to local sports teams to pancake breakfasts,” said Dawn Merkel, Marketing Coordinator with Alberta’s Credit Union (ABCU). “In a small community we are more likely to hear about issues and people in need. And we want to help those families, especially kids.”
And ABCU puts its money where its mouth is – for more than 15 years, they’ve donated to the Chantel Berube Youth Centre (CBYC), a drop-in facility for kids aged 12 to 17 offering a safe and supervised environment for socializing, building positive relationships and participating in activities. The dollars provided by ABCU help support preventative and educational programming. “Thanks to ABCU, youth can travel to the Strathcona Wilderness Centre to participate in art therapy, yoga, nature walks and outdoor skills activities,” said Sarah Fodchuk, from CBYC.
In 2017, ABCU helped to create the Beaumont Community Foundation, helping individuals and groups make an ongoing difference in Beaumont and the surrounding areas.
“The Foundation was set up to help support our community on a bigger scale,” said Dawn. “A recent donation to the Family and Community Support Services in Beaumont will help them deliver their programs. And many ABCU employees personally know people who have used the program – so we know first-hand the good it does for the community.”
Why does community support matter?
“Our communities support us. Without them, we wouldn’t be here,” said Dawn. ABCU, which formed in 2018 as an amalgamation of Beaumont Credit Union and River City Credit Union has been around for more than 70 years. “Even as we’ve grown, we want to keep that small community mentality.”
This local focus is what differentiates credit unions from other financial institutions. Not only are the products and services the same (or better) at credit unions as they are at banks, credit unions share their profits with members every year. In 2018 this meant more than $85 million went back to members across Alberta. Profit-sharing is one way credit unions deliver more to make member lives better.
“It’s part of credit union values to be active in the community. We want our members to see us out there supporting them. It makes them excited to be a part of something bigger,” said Dawn.
ABCU has many more community initiatives launching in the coming months. From a Summer Reading sponsorship that encourages children to be excited about reading over the break to the sixth annual Blues Run and BBQ raising funds for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) this June, the team will be busy getting out and connecting with members.
“We take the time to get to know our members. They aren’t just another number with us,” said Dawn. “We want them to feel like family.”
To find out more about ABCU’s upcoming community events and sponsorships, check out their website here.