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Debunking 'Chapter Chicken'
Wednesday, December 13, 2017 6:40 AM

The Incredible Good Works Being Done at Chapters Throughout the Region, Sans Chicken

Jon Knoll, VP Sales and Service, Credit Union Resources

When I first started in my role nearly three years ago, I knew I would be attending many chapter meetings. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It had been years since I had regularly attended any chapter meetings. Before I get started here, I would also like to add fine print by saying, there are great chapters everywhere in the Cornerstone Region, and they are all doing great things, and these are just a few examples of all the great work. When I started in 2015, I expected "chapter chicken." Thankfully, I was wrong.

So the first chapter meeting I attended in 2015 was in Dallas, and I won the $200 cash raffle. I hadn’t been to a chapter meeting in years prior to this, and I did not even know I was in the drawing for the cash raffle; someone just handed me a ticket for attending, so I grabbed it and moved on down the registration line. We didn’t have chicken that night; it was steak, and we raised a bunch of money for the Dallas Food Bank and listened to Mr. Ensweiler (long-time Cornerstone CEO, now retired) talk about the state of the credit union industry. I donated the cash prize back to the raffle money raised.

Never again did I try and win door prizes or anything else at the chapter meetings, because I am actually pretty lucky at those things. It was looking like chapter meetings could have been a very lucrative future business for me, with all the potential door prizes and cash raffle winnings.

In my second chapter meeting, February 2015, I found myself in Corpus Christi, Texas. The meeting was at a BBQ joint, and the agenda had us listening to Jim Phelps. He discussed our upcoming challenges and opportunities with our advocacy efforts, state and federal for the calendar year. I am pretty sure Jim did a great job as always, but all I remember when I walked in was the BBQ behind the glass counter. It was piled high, maybe three feet. None of it was separated out: ribs, brisket, sausage—I don’t remember seeing chicken. Everyone went through the line and had piles of pork and beef on their plates with a scant amount of sides that would barely fit on the plate.

For my third chapter meeting, March 2015, I found myself at a large crawfish boil at the Sabine Chapter meeting, 450+ attendees strong. It was amazing! I remember the chapter raised thousands of dollars and raffled off really cool prizes, including a golf cart on steroids. 

So in my first three chapter meetings, we raised thousands of dollars for the local communities, learned how to be great advocates for our credit union industry, ate steak, BBQ, and crawfish or chicken fried steak, but no actual chickens were sighted. I think I can do this.

Let’s fast forward to 2016, enjoying some time in Houston at a chapter meeting. The chapter presented a check to the local Children’s Miracle Network. I believe it was a two- or three-year commitment, and the check was north of $200,000. Still, no chicken sighted.

In 2017, I attended my first Arkansas chapter meeting in Malvern. We learned through a reality fair simulation what it was like to live under the poverty line. At the end, everyone was asked to think of one word or an emotion to describe our individual experience. The word that stuck out in my mind was "exhausting.” It was a great event, and we learned so many things about the communities we serve, challenges that exist, and how to be the best financial stewards for our members. 

In San Angelo, the chapter put on a food drive for a local ministry. All in, they donated hundreds of pounds of food.

In 2017, from Corpus Christi all the way over to the Sabine chapter, we had more challenges than we ever thought could happen with Hurricane Harvey. The Cornerstone League and Cornerstone Foundation received donated goods and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from credit union leagues and chapters all over the country, and our regional chapters stepped up to the plate and donated all kinds of supplies and funds as well. Just a few highlights that I know of:

  • Arkansas credit unions rounded up 30,000 lbs of water;
  • Oklahoma credit unions rounded up trucks and trailers full of supplies;
  • All over Texas, the chapters donated supplies and funds; and
  • Shipments kept coming in at the league office from all over the country

I haven’t even scratched the service of what our chapters are doing these days. Recently I attended two chapter Christmas events, Festival of Trees, and the Fort Worth Chapter Christmas Party. 

The Fort Worth Chapter presented a record high-dollar check for $107,000 to Children’s Miracle Network. At Festival of Trees, credit unions all over the region donated decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, and other decorations for auction. The Dallas and Fort Worth Chapter put the event together, and more than $31,000 was raised for the Cornerstone Foundation. Two nights later in Little Rock, they partied down at the Rockin’ the Wreaths celebration at the Little Rock league office where they raised over $5,000.

My apologies to all of those chapters that were not mentioned. I know there is so much more being done in our region. I am in awe of the chapter work throughout Cornerstone and truly blessed to be a part of it. It is great to be a very small part in these chapter activities. Chapter chicken has never tasted so good, especially when it tastes like steak, fajitas, crawfish, BBQ, and anything but chicken.