Credit unions are dedicated to upholding the philosophy of “people helping people” at local, national, and global levels by providing optimal and affordable resources to meet the needs of their communities. Through financial initiatives, credit unions around the world are working to improve the financial well-being of their members. This is at the heart of the mission and structure of credit unions. In addition to the Cornerstone League, organizations such as the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions enable you to expand your reach and get involved to help transform lives and communities.
The following is a collection of narratives from credit unions in the Cornerstone region and their involvement in the worldwide credit union system. Engagement in international efforts exemplifies the cooperative spirit at the heart of the industry that has been carried out for almost 100 years. To contribute a narrative of your own, please contact Cornerstone League SVP Mike Delker.
For True Sky Federal Credit Union of Oklahoma City, “people helping people” has a pretty broad meaning these days.
“We do a lot of things locally, and we started doing a number of things nationally, and we thought this was a great opportunity to do things internationally,” said True Sky CEO Sean Cahill of the opportunity to engage with the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions and the Barbados Co-Operative & Credit Union League Ltd.
He said Mike Reuter, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, made the introductions with Zandre Bowen, CEO of the Barbados Workers' Union Co-Operative Credit Union, and Denise Garfield, general manager of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions.
“We wanted to be a resource,” Cahill said. “Through the World Council we became part of the global bridges program.”
Right off the bat, he discovered that “they were looking at all the things True Sky has done and done well.”
It’s an impressive and progressive list:
“Barbados wants to be a more progressive credit union system,” he said. “They want to digitize their operation, from storing documents to finding new ways to lend digitally. We’re looking to both help them and learn from them.”
He said he has been impressed with the devotion to the credit union movement that he has seen in the Caribbean:
“They perform the purest part of what credit unions are all about – people helping people. I see their incredible passion for their members. I see how they have the same challenges as we do with bank competition and regulatory concerns and how they think through these challenges. We’re learning things every day.”
Cahill has been to Barbados twice. “They’re coming to visit us the week of Oct. 20. for International Credit Union Day. That seems very appropriate. We’re going to go down there some time next March.”
He views the international relationships the credit union is forming in two ways. The new relationships present an opportunity to help credit unions in the Caribbean catch up to their counterparts in the United States. But the relationships also present developmental opportunities for the team at True Sky.
“Alex Michaud, our VP of IT, and a recent CUDE (Credit Union Development Educator) graduate, needed to take on a project for the CUDE program,” Cahill said. “He decided to help credit unions in underdeveloped parts of the world improve their technology.”
He will be helping the Barbados cooperative meet its technology goals.
“Our next focus area will be in Ecuador where they are dealing with a migrant surge from Venezuela,” Cahill said. “This will happen within the next 12-18 months. We will start virtually. Ultimately, we will invite them to Oklahoma City.”
Cahill is enjoying True Sky’s international relationships, as is his team. He is a member of the Cornerstone International Relationship Committee, the CUNA World Affairs Board, and he traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, for the WOCCU Annual Conference.
He is grateful for the support of True Sky’s Board of Directors and for the efforts of Cornerstone League to advance the credit union mission around the world. “Our board is all about community service,” he said. “They are right there next to us serving at our events. And I appreciate their support of our efforts to help advance the international credit union movement.”
Learn how you can get involved in international engagement opportunities and make connections across the globe. Whether you are looking to engage in experiential learning or assist global cooperative efforts first-hand, there are different levels of connection available. Find one that fits your passion and join us in our efforts to ensure financial health for individuals worldwide.
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