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A+ Federal Credit Union Hosts CU:ROAR Advocacy Day at Texas Capitol
Wednesday, November 5, 2014 7:00 AM

A+ Advocacy Group
Front row (kneeling): Viola Issleib, Jessica Taylor, Stacey Cook, Emily Withers, Jennifer Hughes. Back row (standing): Ernest Duran, Ashley Pierce, Tina Danford, Carie Welborn, America Paiz, Kelsey Balcaitis, Shanna Felder, Shelby Beam, John Corona, Kristl McDowell, Elaine Browning, Kelley Crutchfield, Victoria Colon, Amy Smith, Brandy Ward, Daniel Mauro

Twenty-four people from A+ Federal Credit Union—all motivated volunteers on the credit union's CU:ROAR team—participated in a special advocacy day at the Texas Capitol last week. The group was able to take an extended tour the capitol, meet House Rep. Jason Isaac, and brainstorm about what they wanted to accomplish next year. 

A+ FCU Financial Analyst Ashley Pierce led the advocacy team's efforts, along with Community Education Director Kelsey Balcaitis.

"Our advocacy team had a great time at the capitol," Pierce said. "Isaac spoke to us for an hour. He explained his story, where he came from, and what it is he does. For me, he became human."

Pierce said that though Isaac is not on any financial committees, he is a great supporter of credit unions and was very open, positive, and responsive to their questions about how they could get more involved and engaged. "I'm here to serve the public," Isaac told the group. "You are my boss."

Pierce said one of their most important issues as CU:ROAR team members is getting people to care about advocacy and become more involved. "It takes creativity to find ways to get staff involved since it's all voluntary," Pierce said. "No one is told they have to do it."

During their visit, the advocacy team discussed CU:ROAR and the challenges of political engagement—what was working and what they wanted to do differently.

Advocacy Day - Listening to Rep Jason Isaac"We did short brainstorming sessions for five good ideas," Balcaitis said. "We split into five groups and reviewed the top 2-3 ideas we wanted to implement going forward. We asked for a commitment to develop those ideas for next year. One idea was for weekly video displays internally for all the CU:ROAR members. People are signed up."

"We have one CU:ROAR rep from each department in each branch," Pierce added. "But you also you need the support of management. There are costs involved in allowing that many people away from their desks for a few hours. We have a lot of support from our management so we can do this."

In addition, the team reports great gains in PAC fundraising as a result of their ongoing efforts.

"Our PAC contributions via payroll deductions have gone up so significantly this year," said Pierce. "Our goal was to double the number of payroll deduction contributors from 64 to 128. Instead, we tripled it to 187!"

Cornerstone PAC Executive Director Gretchen Ziegler helped coordinate the event for the A+ team, and during their visit at the capitol, she spoke to the group about PAC. Ziegler praised the group's efforts and acknowledged what great results they've achieved. "What the A+ team has accomplished since this campaign began back in the spring is truly remarkable. I could not be more impressed with their efforts." 

Ziegler went on to say, "I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with the A+ CU:ROAR team and getting to know them better. I am so impressed with the commitment shown by every member I met last week. It was a real treat for me."

The A+ CU:ROAR team has been working hard to promote the benefits of advocacy among their colleagues, and their advocacy day at the capitol went a long way toward fostering both. The consensus of the group after the meeting was that people were very pleased to have participated in the visit.

Balcaitis said, "We wanted everyone to leave feeling inspired and ready to take action, and they did."