WASHINGTON-The three winners of the Herb Wegner Awards each offered their thoughts upon accepting their awards at the annual awards dinner here.

* Speaking on behalf of Credit Union Miracle Day, Chairman Juri Valdov credited Bill Brooks for his work in being among the first to "see the opportunity" for what is known as the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run and former PSCU President Dave Serlo for "making it a million-dollar event."

"The races are the vehicle for what we do, they are not the end product," said Valdov. "Our purpose is what I call the Four Cs: children, community, credit unions and, finally, Capitol Hill. They are all important, but we look at them in that order...In this environment everyone is working together for one goal, and that is to make this a better place, make this a better world for children and, as a result, make this a better place for credit unions and what we are doing."

 

Thank You-And A Cautious Reminder

* Hubert Hoosman, president of Vantage Credit Union in St. Louis and winner of the Herb Wegner Award for Individual Achievement, said there can be no such award, noting that individual achievement is the "result of the collective effort of your personal and professional support system. You cannot be successful alone." Hoosman went on to credit numerous coworkers and peers within credit unions.

Hoosman also used the forum to urge CUs to rethink some of their decision-making.

"I do have one concern that I would like to share with you," Hoosman said. "I have had the opportunity to work with some CUs on their lending policies and I was shocked--appalled might be a better word. My concern is we are too concerned with the credit score. We are walking away from people who depend on us. Some of our policies are so rigid today that the people we were chartered to serve cannot get a loan from us today. Teach your staff to ask, 'What happened?' You will find that most people have legitimate issues."

 

A Letter to the Grandchildren

* Rick Craig, former CEO of America First Credit Union in Utah, was presented with the Herb Wegner Award for Lifetime Achievement Award, turned to the words of former Yankee great Lou Gehrig, who famously said on the July 4th, 1939 on the day he was being honored at Yankee Stadium and was also dying that he was "the luckiest man alive."

"(Lou Gehrig) went on to say whey he was lucky because he had the opportunity to associate for 17 years with some of the greatest people baseball had ever known," said Craig. "I am among the luckiest to have been associated among so many of you. There are giants who have received this award tonight; they have been mentors in my life."

Craig, who thanked his wife, 10 children and 31 grandchildren, all of whom were on hand for the presentation, closed with a letter he said he had written for his grandchildren, but also shared with the 575,000 members of America First as he prepares to retire. He told his grandchildren they had been signed up for membership at an early age and as a result might not know the difference between a not-for-profit CU and a for-profit bank, and that as time goes on threats will always be made to tax CUs. "What lawmakers prohibit or permit will be the regulations under which credit unions operate," Craig shared. "Please become advocates for credit unions and the ideals they stand for."

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