Credit union leaders from Poland and the U.S. have actually introduced a brand-new fund to collect extra help for Ukrainian refugees leaving the continuous war with Russia.
The Polish American Credit Union Support Fund was established in March of this year through a collective effort in between Bruce K. Foulke, president and president of the $4.1 billion-asset American Heritage Credit Union in Pennsylvania, and Brian Branch, previous president and CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions in Madison, Wisconsin. To date, more than $400,000 has actually been raised to assist offer needed medical materials and arrange real estate for displaced refugees.
“Watching TV in February and seeing everything going down with no initial help, I got pissed off,” Foulke stated. In addition to being CEO, “I’m a volunteer firefighter and I just said, ‘Screw this, I gotta do something, I can’t sit here.'”
When setting up the support fund, “my requirement was no freakin’ money goes to administrative costs,” Foulke said. “Every dime that’s donated to this goes directly to the credit union foundation over in Poland.”
Interior of ambulances purchased using donations raised through the Polish American Credit Union Support Fund. (American Heritage Credit Union)
Photos of volunteers with Caritas Internationalis, an association of more than 160 Catholic-based relief organizations, sorting supplies for Ukrainian refugees. (Bruce K. Foulke)
Bruce K. Foulke (left), president and chief executive of American Heritage Credit Union, passing out gifts to young refugees. (Bruce K. Foulke)
Ukrainians are continually working to maintain financial services during the conflict. To assist such efforts, organizations such as the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, which is the engagement and fundraising division of the WOCCU, have provided ongoing financial support through fundraising efforts that began around the time of the Russian invasion.
The fund’s founders took care to minimize the potential for points of friction within the donation process by tying it to the National Association of Credit and Savings Unions, Poland’s national trade association for credit unions or “Skoks,” as they are understood. Soon later on, work started on a structure that would make sure the requirements of Ukrainian refugees are properly pleased.
One designated usage of the collected contributions included the purchase of ambulances for carrying ill and hurt civilians over the border to Polish healthcare facilities where they would get necessary medical attention, Foulke stated. Using the gathered capital, he had the ability to acquire 2 ambulances — costing approximately $75,000 each — and put them into instant service.
The tension from the increase of Ukrainian refugees has actually put tension on the Polish cooperative credit union system, developing a requirement for cooperation amongst cooperative credit union, help companies and federal government companies, Branch stated.
“It’s very inspiring to see how Polish citizens contributed relief resources, but the question was how sustainable can this be for such a large influx of people over a long time?” Branch stated. “When we talked about that, the credit unions had provided some of that relief, food and shelter and water when the refugees first arrived, but then they focused on how can we make these people productive members of the economy, so part of the fund’s effort was to get the refugees in a position where they can find work, support their families and get their kids into school.”
Other cooperative credit union companies such as WOCCU and the Ukrainian American Credit Union Association have actually supplied comparable levels of assistance abroad utilizing contributions collected from U.S. cooperative credit union members.
Andrew Horbachevsky, who chairs the UACUA, worried the significance of the function held by the association of 12 Ukrainian-American cooperative credit union.
“The Russian war has actually shown to be genocidal for residents, healthcare facilities, shopping mall and property houses which have actually been bombed,” Horbachevsky stated. “This war will not have a speedy resolution and Ukraine needs all the support now and in the future … Credit unions are all about people helping people, it’s as simple as that.”
As the war continues and those displaced from their homes face new challenges, organizations like UACUA, WOCCU and the Polish American Credit Union Support Fund will continue to evaluate how they can provide the most effective assistance.
“It’s very fitting that credit unions are seeing this issue in Ukraine, where democracy is really at risk and credit unions are at risk [as well] … So the fact that credit unions in the United States are stepping up is very symbolic of the credit union mission as a whole,” stated Greg Neumann, director of interactions for WOCCU.