10 Years of Giving Back to Bowen Island

My how time flies! Friday June 9th will mark the 10 year anniversary of the Bowen Branch of First Credit Union. I have been working for this branch since the beginning, and what still impresses me to this day is the credit union mandate of channeling profits back into the community. Though it took some time for our little branch to become profitable, First Credit Union still gave so much over the years—sponsoring local events, awarding local youth and donating to local non-profits. I believed in this credit union difference, knowing it would gain the support of our island community. Although we opened nearly 600 accounts in that first year we only had a few million in loans, but that began to change steadily. The people of Bowen got behind us and through their incredible support our ability to give back grew.

Bowen-Blog

I am so proud of all we have achieved and our continued presence as a top corporate citizen, community supporter and champion of our island culture and economic progress. Because of the wonderful support we receive from the community, we are able to give back each year in more and more meaningful and impactful ways. Today we have nearly 1800 accounts, 45 million in loans and 35 million in deposits. Our financial planner also has a significant book of investments on the markets. We have been able to improve the financial well-being of countless individuals and businesses on Bowen. As our support from the island grows, so does our contribution to the community – a wonderful formula!

To celebrate 10 years of giving back we are going to have a party at the branch on June 9th. On top of free food, beverages, balloons and entertainment, we will also be holding a fun contest to win one of ten $100 gift certificates to the Bowen Island business of the winner’s choice (open only to members)!

Come by on Friday, June 9th from noon until 2:30 pm for free lunch, listen to our very own Estella Woo perform, try and win $100  towards one of our many fabulous businesses, and celebrate 10 great years of giving back to the community of Bowen Island with us.

See you there!

Kevin Manning, Branch Manager
First Credit Union  |  Bowen Branch

Are You Prepared For An 8.0 Earthquake?

Shake ZoneResidents and business owners of the Comox Valley and Powell River are invited to participate in the Shake Zone earthquake simulator and emergency preparedness fair to experience what an 8.0 magnitude earthquake feels like and shake up their personal preparedness planning.

The portable simulator will be set up in Simms Millennium Park on Friday, June 3, 2016 from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m in the Comox Valley and in Crossroads Village Parking Lot on Monday, June 6, 2016 from 1:30 to 7:00 p.m in Powell River.

In addition to the earthquake simulator, emergency responders as well as emergency preparedness and insurance displays will be onsite to help educate on best practices to be prepared and lower your risk.

The Comox Valley and Powell River  Emergency Program has partnered with Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), First Insurance, Westview Agencies and other emergency programs across Vancouver Island to bring the Shake Zone to various stops on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. The event is free to attend and up to three people at a time will be able to take part in the simulator. Elected officials and school groups will take part between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m in the Comox Valley and at 1:30 p.m in Powell River.

Children must be a minimum of eight years old to participate and children eight to 10 years old must participate with a legal guardian. To view highlights from the 2015 tour, click here. For more information about the Shake Zone, visit www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/quake or http://www.powellriverrd.bc.ca/community-services-2/emergency-preparedness/

The Volunteer Experience: Gratitude, Happiness, and Pride

Powell River staff getting ready to help with maintenance on the Sunshine Coast Trail.
Powell River staff getting ready to help with maintenance on the Sunshine Coast Trail.

It was not a decision that was made lightly; on Thursday October 8 First Credit Union & Insurance and Westview Agencies closed early. At 2pm, 140 staff turned off their office lights, loaded their vehicles with shovels, paint brushes, aprons, craft supplies, and scrub brushes, and headed into the community to work as volunteers.

What possessed us to potentially inconvenience our members and clients? Why did we decide to close early during an incredibly busy work week? We did it to make a statement – serving our communities is important to us. We did it because we believe in people helping people, and that volunteering is a powerful way to strengthen our communities.  We were hoping that our contribution would make a positive difference but we weren’t quite prepared for what we got in return.

For 3 hours our staff painted, filed, prepped food, cleared brush, scrubbed, planted trees, cleaned playgrounds, served seniors, weeded gardens, made crafts, and fund-raised for a local food bank. As we came together at the end of the day to share our stories, it was clear that although we’d volunteered for different organizations, we had all shared one very powerful experience – we were bursting with gratitude, happiness, and pride. Grateful to the non-profit organizations who work for our benefit every day; by volunteering we got to know more about them and we were in awe of what they accomplish. Happy to work alongside our coworkers towards a common goal; although we were working hard, we were having fun and the camaraderie was uplifting and energizing. Proud to work for our organization; closing early so that we could volunteer was a bold statement, but one that clearly articulates our values – how wonderful to work for an organization that ‘walks the walk’!

We started out wanting to make a positive impact – and we did. But what surprised us was that for that for all the positive energy and goodwill that we gave to our communities that afternoon, we received it all back … and more. Will we host another Community Impact Day? I hope so. Closing for a few hours so that we could volunteer in the community was a powerful experience – one that I would love to be part of again!

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Get On Board the ORCA Bus!

success by 6
Tara Chernoff, Marketing and Community Impact Manager, presenting a cheque to Elise Statham, Success by 6 and ORCA Bus Coordinator

It’s a rainy day in Powell River, but that didn’t stop the ORCA (On the Road with Children’s Activities) Bus from making its rounds. This morning I caught up with them at their scheduled stop at Pacific Point Market to present Elise Statham, our local Success by 6 Coordinator, a cheque for over $1,500 (the concession proceeds from our 2015 Powell River Movie Night). While I was there, a van pulled up and two children tumbled out, laughing as they raced each other to be the first one on the bus.

What makes the ORCA Bus so special? Well first, this much-loved vehicle delivers fantastic early childhood programs to areas in our community that may not have access to them otherwise – from Saltery Bay to Lund, and everywhere in between. The bus delivers a Strong Start outreach program for SD#47, Family Place programming, Infant Development Programs, and many of other activities with various organizations and businesses in Powell River.

But even more than its great programming and unique way of reaching out to everyone in our community, I think what makes it so special is the collaborative spirit that makes the ORCA Bus possible. The bus receives  significant support from local volunteers, businesses and organizations – without the volunteer time, without the donations, and without the community partnerships, this bus would not be on the road. It is truly a gift to our community, from our community!

What can you do? Check out their schedule to find out when the ORCA Bus will be in your neighbourhood next. Ask Elise how you can get involved. Get on board the ORCA bus!

How garage sale profits can help build stronger communities

garage sale
First Credit Union staff (and family!) setting up for the garage sale on Saturday, September 12.

We admit it – over the years First Credit Union’s storage locker has collected far more than just dust. This is where displaced desks, worn-out chairs and old shelving units come to retire; every year more Christmas decorations accumulate in the corner and a summer’s worth of event supplies are added to the last. Walking through the maze of credit union relics brings back a lot of memories – but lately the florescent-lit room became so jam-packed that it was almost impossible to pick a path to the back of the room. In an ambitious effort to clear out our overflowing storage facility we hosted a garage sale this past Saturday; $565 was raised and all proceeds went to the First Credit Union Community Fund under the umbrella of the Powell River Community Foundation.

What is a community foundation?

A community foundation is a collection of charitable gifts donated by local citizens. These gifts are pooled and invested and the investment income is distributed as grants to local charitable organizations. The capital is never touched and continues to grow with each new gift, generating income to meet a wide range of community interests and needs for years to come.

First Credit Union is a proud affiliate of both the Powell River Community Foundation and the Bowen Island Community Foundation.  If you are looking to give back to your community, consider making a donation to your local Community Foundation. Anyone can give, at any time and in any amount. Whether it is profits from a garage sale, or the establishment of an endowment fund, community foundations welcome and appreciate all contributions. The larger the pool of capital a foundation has to invest, the more income can be earned and the more good can be done for our community. ~Tara

Movie Night Magic

Birthday Party at Movie Under the Stars in Powell River
Birthday Party at Movie Under the Stars in Powell River

In August we hosted our annual Movie Nights in Powell River, Bowen Island and Comox Valley.  Of all the events we are involved with, the movie nights are my favorite – hundreds of people come out to enjoy a free movie and support a local charity (all concession proceeds go to a local charity).

Besides raising funds for fantastic organizations (this year Success by 6 Orca Bus in Powell River, Tourism Bowen Island, and Cumberland Community School Society were the recipients), I love these events because they are a celebration of community. When you look out across the sea of fold-up chairs and blankets, you see children dancing, couples snuggling, parents laughing – even the occasional birthday party! It’s all part of the Movie Night Magic.

…Tara