Credit Unions Love Their Members

You’ll hear us at WCU talk about the Credit Union Advantage quite often. It’s what sets us, and all credit unions, apart from for-profit banks. We’re not based in New York or London trying to drive increased profits from shareholders, instead we’re local people focused on helping out specific regions (in our case), or dedicated to a particular group of people, for example a credit union that serves people that work for a single company, or professional field. More importantly, our profits are returned to our members.

All members are equal owners of Wauna Credit Union, each member maintains a $5 share of ownership in their Share Savings Account. That means everybody is eligible to vote for our volunteer boards, and even to run for a position on the Board of Directors.

Picture of the communications center - not a link
Our Communications Center team shows their love.

While people may think of different credit unions as competitors, that’s really not the case. We work hand-in-hand with credit unions all over the country to ensure we deliver top-end service and technology no matter where our members are. That means that no matter if you are in New York City or Ames, Iowa, WCU members can go into a branch and be treated as a member, or use a CO-OP ATM (the second largest ATM network in the country) free of charge.

The members as owners value is so important, not just to us, but to every person who is potentially a member of a credit union, which really is anybody and everybody. That’s even more evident today. Ten years after the big financial institutions caused the biggest recession in the last 60 years, nothing has changed.

The sad thing is because of the advertising budgets those big banks have, many people really don’t understand how credit unions are different. If you’re reading this and are a member of a credit union, thank you. If you’re not, please look into it. We hope you chose Wauna Credit Union, but as long as you chose a credit union that works for you, we’re happy.

January Anniversaries

Wauna Credit Union is kicking off our 51st year of serving members of the towns and cities surrounding the Columbia River. We’re continuing to grow (if you want to join us check out our careers page). Today we kick off the year by hearing from the employees who celebrate their anniversary in January. 

Nathan Philips – 13 years
What is your current position?
I started my career at Wauna Credit Union as a Member Service Representative, I now serve as the Vice President of Technology.  My duties include forecasting the technology needs of the credit union, managing our Information Technology teamNathan, and formulating our Information Security strategies.

What is your favorite WCU memory?
My favorite memories at Wauna Credit Union include seeing members I used to help on the teller line at events, such as our Annual Meeting.  I enjoy hearing about how they are doing and seeing their smiling faces like I used to.

 

What is something you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family.  My wife, son, and furbabies enjoy a nice hike in the Astoria area.  I am also a member of a local bowling league in Astoria.

Serena Schlosser  – 3 years
What is your current position?
I was just promoted to Lending Administration Manager upstairs in the Astoria Branch. I support the Consumer and Mortgage Lending teams, making sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed so the credit union stays financially sound.

What is your favorite WCU memory?
I have a lot of great memories, and some of the best ones come from when we all get together. One of my proudest moments was at the holiday party last year when the Top Underwriter and Mos

Serena
Serena poses with the award she won last year

t Helpful awards. It’s always nice to be recognized for your hard work.

What is something you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I am not at work I enjoy gardening, cooking, and camping with my family. I also serve on a volunteer board for the Lower Columbia Preservation Society. I dig old buildings, and really like working with people to keep them around.

 

Pam Weller – 13 years
What is your current position?
I’m the Regional Manager for WCU.   In my position I oversee the deposit and lending growth of the branches, and work closely with the Area and Member Service Managers to implement credit union strategies.

Pam and team at the Vernonia Jamboree
Pam and team at the Vernonia Jamboree

What is your favorite WCU memory?
There are many great memories of my time with WCU, however I would say the best ones have come from working with the Vernonia Branch on floats and projects during Jamboree weekend.  It’s a great time to have fun and be creative as we spend time with each other as well as the community.

What is something you like to do when you’re not at work?
In my spare time I enjoy quilting, knitting, horseback riding and camping.

Others

  • Jenifer Katon – 4 Years
  • Randy Buholts – 8 Years
  • Zara Ahlers – 4 Years

Let us be your Wedding Financial Planner & have a Wauna Wedding!

As soon as the proposal happens, the wedding planning begins (sometimes before). However, if you are like many people, you are paying for your own wedding, or honeymoon, or any of the giant expenses often involved in saying “I do.” At the Shore Style Wedding Faire there will all sorts of vendors helping you with your upcoming nuptials, including Wauna Credit Union.

For many, the idea of parents paying for their children’s wedding is a fairy tale, and even being able to save for a wedding for years and years, is difficult, it can start that union with unneeded stress or prolonged waiting. So, how does one cover the costs of rings, the honeymoon, and the wedding? Even a small, intimate wedding of just your closest friends and family is going to cost more than most can readily afford. What’s a couple to do?

ShoreStyle Wedding Faire February 3 10 am to 3:30 pm
The Shore Style Wedding Faire is this Saturday

One simple way to deal with these expenses is with a personal loan. A personal loan is often the least expensive way to pay. It’s way cheaper than using a credit card, and the qualifying process is quicker than trying to do a home equity loan. Borrowing for your wedding is a simple way to make your dreams come true without the stress. We can set your loan payment to fit your budget, and we can make the payments automatic to keep it simple.

A wedding loan could actually help you build credit as a couple,  which will serve you well when purchasing a home, or a new car in the future, and Wauna Credit Union will be there to assist with that as well. In fact, we offer a variety of options to take the worry out of paying for your wedding so you can focus on planning it, and your new life together. For example, apply for a personal loan to cover the big wedding costs, and a Wauna Credit Union VISA credit card to pay for incidentals or to use on your honeymoon – it’s far more secure than cash or debit cards when traveling. If you opt for a Rewards card, you might even cover airfare with the points you earn!

Why struggle? Let us be you Wedding Financial Planner, and take the stress off of paying for the big event, so you can enjoy your special day and focus on the most important thing – each other.

How do the new tax laws affect mortgages?

You may have heard about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law at the end of December. This major legislation affects many things. If you want to learn more about how it affects you, please reach out to a certified tax professional.

Wauna Credit Union CXO John Moore
John knows that changes in the tax law can change how people deal with their finances.

The Wonderful World of Wauna decided to dig a little deeper. So, we sat down with our CXO John Moore, who has 23-years of experience in finance, which includes overseeing Wauna Credit Union’s mortgage and lending teams, to talk about how the new laws impact mortgages.

Please note, this blog should not replace advice from a certified tax advisor.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
My pleasure. It’s great to talk to somebody who’s beard is almost as magnificent as mine.

Can you give an overview of how the new laws change things?
In general the law lowers the limits related to mortgage deductions. In short if you own expensive real estate you may not get the deductions you used to. The main changes:

  • The maximum mortgage debt homeowners can deduct was decreased from $1 million to $750,000. Although those with existing loans are grandfathered in
  • The law eliminates tax deductibility for interest paid on home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs)
  • The deduction for property taxes is now limited to $10,000

How does this change things for mortgages?
The thing it really does is make first mortgages much more appealing. Since the interest in first mortgages is still deductible, and because the rates on first mortgages are almost always lower than equity loans and lines, we expect to see more of our members looking at refinancing.

What about members who want to do home improvement, or previously used home equity loans and HELOCs to finance other things, like education and paying down high-interest debt?
First mortgages can be great for that as well. Since Oregon and SW Washington have seen a dramatic rise in home values, most of our members have a lot of equity in their homes. Those who have a big expense can take care of it with a cash out first mortgage for any home improvement or debt consolidation.

Does this make second mortgages less appealing?
Not necessarily, even though non-housing interest is no longer deductible on equity loans, they still are very useful. First of all, the rates on equity loans tend to be lower than non-secured loans, which means you are still stretching your money further. In addition, just having an equity line handy in case of emergencies can provide tremendous peace of mind.

Any final things you’d like us to know?
Han shot first.

Thanks John for taking the time to speak with us. If you have any questions about mortgages WCU has experts in every branch who are happy to help you with your existing mortgage, or get you on the road to home ownership, and phone consultants available 24/7 at 800-773-3236. 

Loving Your Dream: Four Friends are Chop Chopping All Over Oregon!

Long-time friends Kinnell & Jon Steward and Dennis & Debbie Gorton always look forward to their annual camping trip with several other families, and the meal everyone looks forward to on that trip is Chicken Sundae night!  “We do it potluck style and everyone would bring some of the toppings.  As new families would join the group they would ask “what is this crazy dinner…I have never heard of a Chicken Sundae…we would just smile and say wait until you try it!” Steward said.

Kinnell and Jon stand in front of the truck

In the spring of 2015 the Gortons had an opportunity to sell Chicken Sundaes at a fundraiser for a friend who was battling brain cancer. They were an immediate hit!  That June during the camping trip, they decided to bring the Chicken Sundaes to the people.  The couples cobbled together their own money to buy equipment and supplies, and two months later Chop Chicken Sundaes made its debut at the 2015 Vernonia Friendship Jamboree.  Their first real event was a hit!

“We decided to see where this crazy idea would take us so we started selling at Farmers Markets and Events,” Kinnell said.  “We were a pop up restaurant, so we would pull up, unload our equipment, build a restaurant, prep our food, sell the food, clean up and pack it all back into our trailer. It was a ton of work. We knew that if we were going to keep following this dream we would need to find an easier way to do it, and that meant building a food truck.”

Customers warm their hands in front of the truckThe couples researched and realized they would never be able to afford it on their own. The Stewards are long-time members with Wauna Credit Union, and presented their business plan to the Vernonia Branch. Right away Pam Weller, and the rest of the team at Wauna shared their vision, and went to work seeing how they could help the foursome realize their goals.

“The team at Wauna was super,” said Kinnell.  “Pam and Sue worked with us to get the business plan together, and gathered enough evidence to make the loan.”  Almost immediately Wauna’s faith in the business paid off and the friends were realizing their dreams of taking Chicken Sundaes all over the state of Oregon & beyond.

Chop Chop Chicken Sundaes has built a fanbase all over Oregon. “Even though it’s hard work at times, we’re having so much fun. We love talking to people, and introducing them to Chicken Sundaes,” said Jon. “We are so grateful to Wauna for seeing our vision and believing in us, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for Pam and the team at Wauna.”Customers gather at the Chop Chop truck

If you want to find out when Chop Chop Chicken Sundaes will be in your area, visit their website at www.choppdx.com, like their Facebook page or follow them on Instagram, and if you are interested in finding out more about what WCU can do for you, visit waunafcu.org.

What’s a Certificate

Save with a certificateSaving for your future is one of the most important decisions you can make – the sooner you start, the more you’ll have. It’s an easy way to create peace of mind for many reasons, and while there are many reasons to save, there are also many ways to save.

For some, the saving has reached a point where funds are simply waiting for bigger and better opportunities. This is where a certificate might just come in handy.

But what is a certificate? How does it work? And how do I know if it’s right for me?

In many ways, a certificate is a lot like your traditional savings account. But, in a lot of ways it isn’t. Similar to the bank issued Certificates of Deposits (CDs), with a certificate , you are agreeing NOT to touch your deposit/s for a set amount of time. The longer the term length of the certificate you choose, the longer you are committing to keeping those funds with your financial institution.

Of course, investing all of your money into a certificate isn’t going to be the fastest way to grow your portfolio. However a good rate can make all the difference in your financial plan. The one big advantage over a savings account is that with a certificate the rates are almost always higher.

Additionally, certificate specials will have fixed rates, meaning the rate won’t change during the term of the certificate. But remember, with a savings account you can move your cash in and out as often as you’d like. Early withdrawal penalties can differ, but with a certificate account, if you don’t plan ahead, you could end up losing some or all of the interest you’ve accrued.

By making smart decisions with investments certificates can be a viable option for solid returns on your deposit/s. And at Wauna Credit Union, your funds are insured up to $250,000 through the National Credit Union Administration.

Contact your local Wauna Credit Union branch to see if a certificate is right for you. Our mission is to provide you with opportunities to build your financial well-being. It’s important that we offer options and alternatives that make sense for you.

Take a look at our current our Certificate Special here.

Employee of the Quarter – Kailynn Daum

One of the mantras we have at Wauna Credit Union is in order to be the financial institution that members choose first, use the most, and grow with throughout their lives, we have to have the best people. Every quarter we recognize one employee as the Employee of the Quarter. Our honoree for the final quarter of 2017 is Kailynn Daum. We sat with Kailynn to find out more about her experiences at Wauna.

What is your title?
For the last year, I’ve served as a Training Specialist after spending most of my six years at Wauna as a Teller/Member Consultant out of the Saint Helens branch-with a brief excursion on the Operations team in Clatskanie. I get to use my experience from being on the front line to teach our internal members (employees) in a variety of areas to help them better serve our members. I love that Wauna is committed to education and opportunity, and that I get to be a big part of that.

Kailynn and her husband at the beach
Kailynn and her husband at the beach

What brought you to WCU?
I have been a member since I was 16 and always felt valued and taken care of as a member, so when I saw a position open for an on-call teller in the Saint Helens branch I decided to go for it. I had a few years of waitressing experience but knew nothing about the financial industry so I was a little nervous coming in. With the help of my team I quickly found my bearings and I am very fortunate to have had some great mentors over the last six years that have helped me get to where I am now.

What is your favorite thing about working here?
Wauna is really committed to employees education and growth. The Credit Union really invests in its employees which in turn benefits our members, and I love that I get to be a part of that in the Training Department. It is so rewarding to see an employee grow in to their position, develop a career path and find their success.

What project has been your favorite?
The training team is very project focused so it’s hard to pick just one. The thing I love the most about taking on big projects is the sense of comradery that comes with it. Thinking back on the times that we have spent countless hours practicing for a big presentation or working in to the night on our card conversion, those were the times that really brought us together as a team.

Kailynn and her manager Sarah on Halloween
Party on Sara. Party on Kailynn

Have you ever done anything embarrassing at work?
When I was working in Saint Helens branch one of our call center reps called needing some information, I forgot to place her on hold and instead just set the phone down. While I was getting the information for her my colleague and I were throwing down a very dramatic duet of Bohemian Rhapsody. When I returned to the phone I realized what I had done and tried to play it cool, but she had heard everything. She did complement our duet but I think it was only because she felt sorry for us.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Saint Helens and that is where my husband and I decided to stay. We love being outdoors so being within a couple hours drive of the river, ocean, and mountains (and family) is great.

The Erlene Darby Learning Center is a Special Place

Erlene

It was an adventurous spirit, as her children like to recall, that inspired Erlene Darby to do many of the things she did throughout her 79 years of life. In 1970, it was that spirit that led Erlene and her kids on an impromptu, 3-month road-trip across the United States.

Erlene clearly loved traveling and experiencing life. But she was also was well-known for her sympathetic ear and kind heart, and she was always ready to support family, friends, and her credit union.

“I had thought of a number of words to describe her and came up with committed, caring, leadership, supportive. She mentored me both professionally and personally. And she did it from the heart. That meant a lot to me.” — Debi Smiley, Chief Marketing Officer at Wauna Credit Union.

Erlene Darby volunteered at Wauna Credit Union for over 30 years. She served in almost every capacity. From Board Chair to Board Treasurer, she did it all. Erlene watched the credit union grow and change — her adventurous spirit, a beacon, guided the credit union through ups and downs.

So, in recognition of this steadfast commitment to Wauna Credit Union, to her adventurous spirit, and to the inspiration and wonder she shared throughout her three decades with us, we are proud to announce the dedication of our Westport Learning Center to Erlene Darby.

“I think dedicating this building – the learning center for all of the future and current employees and volunteers that we’re going to have here at Wauna – to come through and to see her name and her image says a lot about what she stood for,” said George Dunkel, WCU’s Board Chair.

Erlene’s Family at the Dedication Ceremony

As a special way of celebrating Erlene, we hosted a small ceremony dedicating the “Erlene Darby Learning Center.” There, joined by Erlene’s family and friends, we shared laughs and tears.

While the mood was light, the memories and feelings were strong. The affair became a proud moment forever marked in time for not only Wauna Credit Union, but for Erlene’s family.

“What a wonderful honor it was to be included in the dedication ceremony,” said Erlene’s daughter, Melinda Puzey. “My family and I were both impressed and humbled by the dedication, and for Wauna’s regard and appreciation for my mother’s service and commitment. It made me very proud to be her daughter, and I know it would have meant so much to her.”

Erlene’s Plaque

Her plaque, proudly displayed on the front of her learning center, reads:

Dedicated to the loving memory of Erlene Darby with appreciation of her dedication and passion for lifelong learning. She inspired us with 35 years of steadfast volunteer service.

 

December Anniversaries

Wauna Credit Union has had a lot of exciting things happen this year, our 50th year of serving members of the small towns surrounding the Columbia River. We’re continuing to grow (if you want to join us check out our careers page). Today we wrap up the year by hearing from the employees who celebrate their anniversary in December.

Amy Grubb – 5 years
What is your current position?
My current position is Member Service Manager of the Scappoose branch.  My main focus is making sure my branch runs smoothly and supporting and training my MC’s so that our members are receiving the best possible experience and helpingAmy and son them with their financial needs.

What is your favorite WCU memory?
My favorite Wauna memory is when I was a teller in Scappoose and one of my favorite members told me his birthday is Christmas Eve and it wasn’t really celebrated much growing up, I went out and bought him a birthday cake.  He was so surprised and now I buy him a cake every year for his birthday. We also had a couple members who were struggling around Thanksgiving one year and I was able to contact a local church and got them hooked up with a full turkey dinner. I loved seeing the look of relief and joy when they got their boxes full of dinner and all the fixings, they were so happy to be able to provide a nice dinner for their family.

What is something you like to do when you’re not at work?
My husband and my son love to ride quads and go camping! I am also addicted to Fixer Upper and am going to Magnolias in Waco, TX in April 2018.

Ashley Erickson – 2 years
What is your current position?
My current position is Accounting Clerk. I make sure all of our member’s daily financial transactions are posted correctly and balance, and pay all of the credit union’s bills.

What is your favorite WCU memory?
My favorite WCU memory is the Clatskanie Branch’s remodel open house we had last year. It was great getting to meet our members as they had the chance to see all of our changes at the branch. You could tell everyone was excited about our growth and new work spacesAshley and her team.

What is something you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I am not working I enjoy reading and coloring, going to the gym, wine, and playing tennis with my boyfriend.

Rachael Eaton – 1 year
What is your current position?
I’m an Member Consultant at the Warrenton branch. I assist members with their transactions, answer questions and explain things in a straightforward way that’s easy to understand. I also help with loans and credit cards. It’s great to be able to help our members build their credit and meet their financial needs.Rachael and her boyfriend

What is your favorite WCU memory?
Just the fun we have. The way we celebrate holidays, member recognition, contests. This is truly a fun place to come to everyday.

What is something you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I’m not at work I’m either reading my kindle, hanging out with my nieces, or spending time at home with my boyfriend.

Josh Rein – 1 year
What is your current position?
I’m the Digital Marketing Specialist for Wauna. I make sure our members know about all the great promotions we have going on, and all the fun things we are doing in the community. I also break the fourth wall when I do the December Anniversary blog post.

What is your favorite WCU memory?
My favorite memory was this year’s annual meeting. It marked a real kick-off of celebrating our 50th year of serving the community, and it was great to see actual members come and help set the direction of the credit union. It’s really what makes us different than a bank. I also got the opportunity to meet Erlene Darby who shaped Wauna more than any other person.Josh grilling

What is something you like to do when you’re not at work?
I have an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old, so most of my time is spent with them and taking them to their various activities, and in general having fun being a dad.

Others

  • Stephanie Sievers – 21 Years
  • Stephanie Pesio – 10 Years
  • Cassandra Budge – 8 Years
  • Rachel Milligan – 3 Years

 

Employee of the Quarter Fall 2017

Every quarter Wauna Credit Union celebrates one employee who exemplifies our mission to “Provide opportunities for our members to build their financial well-being,” and our vision to be “the financial institution that members choose first, use the most, and grow with throughout their lives.” For this quarter our Employee of the Quarter is Alex Peck. If you’re interested in becoming the next Employee of the Quarter check out our Careers Page

Alex at Seahawks game
Alex takes in a Seahawks Game

What is your title?
I’m an MC 2. I’ve been a Member Consultant in our St. Helens branch since I started out at the credit union four years ago. It’s fun to look back, and see all that has changed over that time. One of the most rewarding things is I’m in the position to mentor the other MCs. Wauna is really great about letting us take on more responsibility, and being self-reliant.

It’s also fun to establish relationships with the members. We have our regulars, and over time you become part of each-other’s lives. You know about their families and what’s important to them.

Alex in a cable car
Alex loves to travel all over the west coast

What brought you here?
I used to work at the Dockside in St. Helens. Sara, who used to be the Member Services Manager here, and now leads our training team, would come in occasionally. I must have made an impression because she encouraged me to apply.

What is your favorite thing about working here?
There’s so much to like about working at Wauna. I love helping people, and really feel like I’m making a difference. One of my favorite things is how my coworkers and members feel like family. A credit union really is different than a bank.  We’re not here to get people in and out, or make as much money as we can, but instead we want to help people.  Wauna Credit Union’s Vision is to be the financial institution that members choose first, use the most, and grow with throughout their lives, and I get to be a big part of that.

What project has been your favorite?
My favorite project isn’t one project, but it’s any time we all get together.  Whether it’s training, or a holiday party, or something else, it’s a lot of fun to get together with my colleagues and get to know them better.

Where did you grow up/Why did you move to St. Helens?
I am from Helena, MT.  I moved to Portland to finish school, and gradually worked my way north. Helena is a smaller town, and I’m a lot happier working and living in a smaller town. There’s still a lot to do, especially if you like the outdoors, and people know each other instead of being strangers.