Saying Thanks and Being Optimistic

December is always a good time to look back at the year passed, and look forward to the year ahead. 2020 is a year to reflect on, and while this year is definitely not one to repeat, I find myself reflecting positively on the last 11 months, and seeing promise in 2021.

If nothing else, 2020 taught us to look at what is most important, whether that be by necessity, or because of a desire to bring loved ones closer – many of us have spent more time with family and friends than ever before.

Our area has struggled since the pandemic turned everything we know upside down. Our neighbors who rely on hospitality were especially hit hard. But with that struggle, I’ve witnessed people coming together, time and again, as families, and as communities.

That is where the Credit Union comes in. We too have made changes, and I’m proud of how we’ve done it. We made sure our members and our employees had what they needed. We expanded our offerings and our hours to make it easier for people to talk to us. 
We also stayed open. 

While many banks abandoned the region, credit unions grew. That on top of everything else, is what makes me optimistic for 2021. Whether you need a place to grow your financial well-being, a loan to help keep your doors open, or something extra to buy that house you’ll entertain your grandchildren in, Wauna Credit Union is here.

Next year marks 54 years of serving you, and we’re just getting started. We hope you find joy as 2020 concludes, and we look forward to working with you in 2021.

Respectfully,
Robert Blumberg signature
Robert Blumberg, President and CEO

A New and Improved WaunaTalk

Do you love Wauna Credit Union’s award-winning* financial education podcast WaunaTalk. Are you tired of going to YouTube to listen to it? Have no fear, WaunaTalk is now available in audio only format. In addition, you can download WaunaTalk from your favorite podcast directory, including Apple Podcasts, Sticher, Spotify, TuneIn, and Google Podcasts.

In our newest episode Laura from our Operations team talks about some new approaches scammers are taking during the pandemic. After you listen to Laura’s podcast, take a trip down memory lane with all of the WaunaTalk episodes, which cover everything from buying a house to improving your credit.

*2018 recepient of the I think it’s very good what you’re doing award. Given by the author’s mom, and not representative of actual podcast awards.

Our Role in Stopping Human Trafficking

Many people don’t realize the essential role the financial services industry has in the fight against Human Trafficking. Often, the only time a trafficking victim talks to a person who can help is when they interact with frontline representatives at their credit union or bank. In addition, the type and location of financial transactions can indicate abuse, be it trafficking, elder abuse, forced labor, or something else. That is why at WCU one of our ongoing training topics is how to recognize the signs of human trafficking, and what to if an interactions raises multiple red flags.

It’s so important to continually stay up-to-date about the signs of trafficking is the ever-changing reality of the forms it takes. COVID-19 has changed many things, and how abusers prey on vulnerable victims is one of them. With more people struggling with job loss and economic insecurity, and spending more times isolated from their support groups.

That’s why we’re staying vigilant, and continuing to educate ourselves, and work with other financial institutions to recognize the signs. We ask that our members learn the indicators that somebody they interact with may be at risk, or under the influence of an abuser or trafficker.

And if you need help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH),1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733). The NHTH is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The NHTH is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization funded by the Federal government.

El orgullo de servir a los miembros que usan ITIN

The Pride in Serving ITIN Members

Uno de los valores principales del movimiento de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito es brindar servicios financieros equitativos a grupos que históricamente han sido desatendidos. Hoy en día, Wauna Credit Union está desarrollando un programa y contratando personas para que estén presente para los miembros de nuestra comunidad que otras instituciones financieras no parecen querer ayudar, personas que viven y trabajan en nuestras comunidades con un número ITIN, y sin un número de seguro social. A menudo, las personas que no son hablantes nativos de inglés entran en esta categoría. Debido a que muchas instituciones financieras carecen de personal multilingüe, o a menudo consideran a las personas sin un número de seguro social de alguna manera más riesgosas, las comunidades Latinas se encuentran en desventaja y, a menudo, son el objetivo de prestamistas abusivos.

Una de nuestras primeras contrataciones en nuestra sucursal en Forest Grove fue contratar a Frank Elizondo-Alcalá, quien comenzó a trabajar compartiendo el estilo de Wauna Credit Union “Hay bancos que no ofrecen este tipo de préstamo, lo creen que es un riesgo muy grande para ellos y nosotros lo vemos de manera diferente, nosotros no vemos a la comunidad que usa ITIN o a la comunidad hispana como un riesgo”.

Univisión presentó recientemente el programa ITIN de WCU y destacó un gran ejemplo de cómo la Cooperativa de Crédito está marcando la diferencia.

“Me ha facilitado la vida porque antes uno no podía obtener un carro nuevo, tenía que andar comprando carros más económicos que no tienes que tener un crédito para comprar un carro nuevo, entonces a cada rato te fallaba, se descomponía, ya no servía y tenías que gastar en otro carrito”.

Además, nuestra Sucursal Virtual, el chat en línea y las unidades de Cajeros de Video cuentan con personal que puede ayudar a nuestros miembros de habla hispana. También estamos traduciendo y localizando nuestros documentos y materiales digitales e impresos para garantizar que no solo estamos abriendo una cuenta o otorgando un préstamo, sino también comunicando nos con nuestras comunidades en su idioma preferido y obteniendo su membresía de por vida.

The Pride in Serving ITIN Members

El orgullo de servir a los miembros que usan ITIN

A leading ethos of the credit union movement is to provide equitable financial services to groups that are historically underserved. Today, Wauna Credit Union is developing program and hiring people to be there for our community members that other places don’t seem to want to help, people who live and work in our communities with an Individual Tax ID number (ITIN), but without a social security number. Often times, people who aren’t native English speakers fall into this category. Because many financial institutions lack multi-lingual staff, or often consider people without a social security number somehow riskier, Latinx  communities find themselves at a disadvantage, and often the target of predatory lenders.

One of our first hires at our newest branch in Forest Grove is Frank Elizondo-Alcalá, who went to work sharing the Wauna Credit Union way. “People were so excited to see somebody come in the door who not only speaks fluent Spanish, but more importantly understands the issues they are facing,” he said.

Univision recently featured WCU’s ITIN program, and highlighted a great example of how the Credit Union is making a difference.

“It has made my life easier because before you couldn’t get a new car, you had to go around buying cheaper cars that you don’t have to have a loan to buy a new car, so every so often it failed you, it broke down, it no longer worked and you had to spend on another cart.”

In addition, our Virtual Branch, online chat, and Video Teller Units are staffed by people who can help our Spanish-speaking members. We’re also translating and localizing our digital and printed documents and materials to help ensure we’re not just opening an account, or giving a loan, but earning your membership for life.

August Anniversaries

Things are starting to get back to normal at the credit union, but we’re still living in a world very different from the one we thought we would be in even just a few months ago. Every month we celebrate our employees celebrating an anniversary. We ask them a few questions about their job, and try to keep it light (mostly).

Over the last two months though we’ve done it a little differently. Our August anniversary celebrants answered one simple question;

What is something the credit union does that makes you proud to say you work here?

Mike Chapman – 10 Years

Every day I feel a great sense of satisfaction knowing the Credit Union is making it possible for thousands of local residents to safely take care of their money, no matter their age or background.

Nichole Soares – 2 Years

There are so many reasons I am proud to work at Wauna Credit Union, however the thing that makes me most proud to say that I work here, is that since day one I could see that we genuinely stand by our mission and vision. It is important to me that an institution stands by the things it says and Wauna Credit Union beyond question values people. I get opportunities every day to change members’ lives and it extends beyond just their finances. I get to work under two of the most supportive and encouraging women I have had the pleasure of working with, who consistently provide me with opportunities to learn pretty much all aspects of the credit union; It gives me a lot of pride to know how instrumental our branch is in helping the credit union run smoothly along with the member service we provide. In the two years I have been here I have had the chance to wear many hats, and I get to learn and grow all the time. Every day is a chance to use TMA, especially in the Virtual Branch.

July 2020 Anniversaries

Things are starting to get back to normal at the credit union, but we’re still living in a world very different from the one we thought we would be in even just a few months ago. Every month we celebrate our employees celebrating an anniversary. We ask them a few questions about their job, and try to keep it light (mostly).

Over the last two months though we’ve done it a little differently. Our July anniversary celebrants answered one simple question;

What is something the credit union does that makes you proud to say you work here?

Heidi White – 8 Years

My favorite thing is the work I do every day. I grew up in Clatskanie, and it’s rewarding to help my friends and their family improve their financial well-being. Part of WCU’s vision is that we want to be our members’ financial institution for life, and I really feel that when I help people go from getting their first credit card, to their first car, to their first house, and soon, I’ll be doing the same thing for their kids.

Kristen DeForrest – 4 Years

I am proud to work for Wauna because of the way we show our team and family spirit internally and with our members. We are one big family at Wauna and everyone is welcome with us!

Don’t Forget the Taxman

The resulting economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of Americans to find themselves out of work through no fault of there own. Several economic stimulus packages have helped out, and it looks like another is on the way, but one thing to keep in mind is that many of the boosts to unemployment are still taxable at both the state and federal level. out of work.

While the federal funds given to most people working or not are not subject to taxation, the essential unemployment benefits are.

Why is unemployment taxable?

If you’re collecting unemployment, the IRS considers it income, just like it would money earned from a job, and you’ll need to account for it when you file your taxes for 2020. While some states, including California, don’t tax unemployment benefits, Oregon and Washington both do

If you received unemployment insurance this year, you’ll receive a Form 1099-G, which shows how much money you received from unemployment benefits. 

How to avoid a large tax bill

There are a few options for paying your unemployment taxes: 

  • Paying when you file your 2020 taxes
  • Make estimated quarterly tax payments.
  • Have your taxes automatically withheld.

Most of us need every dollar of unemployment insurance, but if you can make it work, the easiest option is to have taxes automatically withheld, just like you would from a normal paycheck

The trickiest one is making estimated quarterly payments. Many sole proprietors, freelancers, or others who get all or some of their income from 1099 jobs make estimated quarterly tax payments. This helps spread out the payment, but you could be off in your estimation and pay too little, or not maximize the amount you have to live on. 

Whatever you decide, we know this is tough on everybody. While we can’t give tax advice, we are happy to help you develop a budget. You can use many of online tools, like Money Management as well.

June 2020 Anniversaries

Things are starting to get back to normal at the credit union, but we’re still living in a world very different from the one we thought we would be in even just a few months ago. Every month we celebrate our employees celebrating an anniversary. We ask them a few questions about their job, and try to keep it light (mostly).

Over the last two months though we’ve done it a little differently. Our June anniversary celebrants answered one simple question;

What is something the credit union does that makes you proud to say you work here?

Monica Lauber – 16 Years

I’m proud that we continue to offer solutions to our members financial needs. It’s about them, not us. Just recently over the last few months most of the mortgage lenders and brokers stopped offering cash out refinances because of the uncertain economic times, but there are still so many reasons people would want to use the equity in their homes. At Wauna, we didn’t for a second think about taking away a valuable resource. Now more than ever, we’re in your corner.

Jeannie Mustola – 4 Years

I just joined our Commercial team, so right now one thing I’m proud of is all the work we do to help keep our area businesses growing and supporting our communities. I’m a life-long Clatskanie resident. I just bought a home here, and I’m going to raise my family here, so the credit union doing its part of keep a strong local economy is important. Over the last two months, we helped more than 100 employees keep their pay through the pandemic with SBA Paycheck Protection Loans. I love our focus on small business and being able to connect with them personally, and help them financially. I love seeing the passion people have for their businesses.

Kerbie Belknap – 4 Years

One thing I love about working here is that we REALLY ARE trying to help our member build their financial well-being. From the type of accounts we open, to the lending that we do, the credit counseling, or even the financial advisors that we partner with. All of this is not to make the credit union rich, but to help our members. That makes me proud.

Alejandra Ortega Bermudez – 3 Years

The fact that we do the most we can for every member, we go above and beyond to help the member in any situation they may be in with regards to their finances or loans.

Jonathan Kintz– 2 Years

When the position opened up and I applied, I was just looking for a simple thing. Like a side gig sort of thing, you know? Little did I know that a position doing a few hours of cleaning a week would open up the doors to the whole company and the tight knit family they have created. I have a great working relationship with my manager. He cares about how I am doing, my family, all on top of getting me all the support and tools I need to do my job the best it can be done. I have attended a few Wauna events and I enjoyed myself thoroughly every time. Even though I rarely see the folks who work at the branch, they find ways to let me know that I am appreciated and part of the team.

I also find it a great privilege to help support a local company doing solid community work. Thinking and acting locally is a big deal to me, and Wauna reflects those values.

Chris Barron – 1 Year

We are an active participant and supporter of our community, even outside of the branch, and outside of business hours. While everybody thinks about financial support, both donations and loans, we also donate our time, expertise, and resources. I’m proud to wear the WCU logo on my chest when I’m out and about, and to be part of this company.

Sabrina Ecker – 1 Year

I am grateful and proud to be part of an organization that does such good things for its members. I’ve been here a year now, and from the beginning, I’ve constantly heard about living our mission and vision, and putting the member first. Knowing that’s our goal lets me concentrate on helping people when they come to the branch.

2020 Scholarship Winners

Wauna Credit Union Awards Area Students Over $12k in Scholarships

It was definitely a year unlike any other. Graduations did not have the pomp and circumstances that the Class of 2020 was probably expecting, but in many ways that made the awarding of scholarships to deserving students even more rewarding.

WCU’s 2020 scholarship recipients were selected based on a variety of factors, including GPA, community involvement, and their need for financial assistance.

“This was not an easy decision as we had a huge amount of wonderful applicants this year,” said WCU CEO Robert Blumberg. “We take that to heart, because we believe not just in our communities and our schools, but in our future. And who better to make that future brighter than our children,” said Blumberg.

Fifteen students from eight area high schools are recipients of this year’s WCU Scholarships, which range from $500 to $1,500 each. This years recipients include:

  • ELI Takalo – Astoria
  • Kegan Rascoe – Astoria
  • Gabriel Katon – Clatskanie
  • James Helmen – Clatskanie
  • Gina Limon – Clatskanie
  • Jonathan Moravec – Clatskanie
  • Catherine Ruado – Forest Grove
  • Nada Jones – Rainier
  • Josiah Jones – Rainier
  • Kelsey Ela – Scappoose
  • Allisandra Kuni – Scappoose
  • Kaytlenn Worlitz – St. Helens
  • Sofia Wolf – Vernonia
  • Jessica Butcher – Vernonia
  • Katrina Diego – Warrenton