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.

2021 Scholarship Winners

The last year has shown us how resilient people can be, and maybe no group has been forced to change more than graduating seniors and college students. Every year we reward those hard-workers in our community, and this year, we are extra proud to award $9,750 in scholarships to nine students who have shown commitment to their studies and to the area. The winners demonstrate the great things that our young members are doing, and the great potential they have to change the future.

  • Ann Heyen (Warrenton); Ann is embarking on a future career in finance, at La Moyne College. Her ultimate goal is to open her own business and provide financial education.
  • Cade McDonald (Scappoose); Cade has already started his college career, taking dual credit classes and a class at PCC. He is planning on getting a B.S. in nursing, in an emergency or trauma setting.
  • Gabe Katon (Clatskanie); Gabe is heading to Lower Columbia College to study Psychology. He believes his time on the speech and debate team in high school helped prepare him for the future.
  • Jessica Butcher (Vernonia; Jessica is attending Portland Community College in order to get a degree in Nursing. After completing the two-year program, she plans to transfer to OHSU and earn her B.S. in Nursing.
  • Josiah Jones (Rainier); Josiah is enrolled at Northwest University, studying history and political science. He ultimately wants to return to the area to teach high school.
  • Kegan Roscoe (Astoria); Kegan is entering her sophomore year at Oregon State studying business and interior design. She ultimately wants to start her own business, and contribute back into the community.
  • Natalie Katon (Clatskanie); Natalie is off to Oregon State University, with the goal of entering the medical field. She’s excited to be working towards her degree at the same time as her dad attends a masters program. She credits her time in Leadership and track in setting her up for success.
  • Samuel Irwin (Warrenton); Sam is attending Oregon State University in the fall, and will major in biology. He wants to become a physician’s assistant, and give back to his community.
  • Shelby Blodgett (Clatskanie); Shelby will be attending Oregon Institute of Technology and studying Nuclear Medicine. She will also be continuing her athletic career, suiting up for the Owls basketball team.

The application period for Wauna Credit Union Scholarships will begin again in February 2022. The application deadline is later in the year, and winners are announced in June. All members that are high school seniors or recent high school graduates are eligible.

2021 Annual Meeting

Important Note about our 2021 Annual Meeting

Following the CDC’s guidance on COVID-19, our annual meeting will be fully virtual this year. Please visit this page on March 16 for information on how to attend the meeting.

What is an Annual Meeting?

Each year, Wauna Credit Union, and all Credit Unions for that matter, hold an Annual Meeting to share with our member-owners the financial status and growth of our Credit Union during the prior year.  The results of our Board Of Director elections are also announced at the event.

An Annual Report is produced each year for the Annual meeting, it offers reports from key figures at Wauna Credit Union, as well as our financials presented in a statement and graphs.

2021 Annual Meeting

When: Our 54th Annual Meeting (you’re invited!) will be held on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 6pm.
Where: Virtual
Questions: Contact the Board Governance Committee at gcomm@waunafcu.org

Warming Astoria

It’s impossible not to see the struggles of our community when visiting the Riverwalk or supporting the local stores and restaurants. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Astoria hard, and has placed countless obstacles for many just trying to get back on their feet.

The issues with houselessness are vast and complicated. Health and safety risks pose dangerous threats to Astoria’s homeless citizens and these risks worsen during winter, when living out of a car or on the street are lethal, as temperatures drop and winds pick up.

Check presentation
Members of our staff were happy to present a check to the Astoria Warming Center

A beacon of hope exists, however, in the Astoria Warming Center. A modest organization with a huge heart, the Center provides overnight shelter during winter months. Located at the First United Methodist Church, the Center exists solely to support people in need, which includes those experiencing homelessness. Like many beacons of home, the Center relies heavily on donations to keep their doors open. This year that, reliance has increased, as the Center moves toward paid employees.
This reliance was one of the many reasons Wauna Credit Union (WCU) employees voted to support the Astoria Warming Center as the 2020 official credit union charity.
“When we were choosing our annual charity, the Astoria Warming Center was an obvious choice,” said Kristen DeForrest, a member of the WCU Operations team, and a huge supporter of the Warming Center. “Many of our employees live in Astoria and see the good work they do every day.”

Kristen has long volunteered for the Center, and knows how important the role it has in helping the people of Astoria, “We see so many folks every day who just need a little help,” she said, “just giving a warm room to sleep when the temperature starts to dip is a huge benefit.”

Kristen was recently on hand to present a check for $11,299.09 to the Astoria Warming Center’s Board Member, Annie Martin, longtime Center Coordinator, Cheryl Paul, and Kathleen Sullivan, the Center’s new Executive Director. Just shy of $12,000, the donation was raised exclusively by WCU employees.

“Thank you so much for this incredibly generous donation! It means even more that your employees chose us! Please thank your employees for us. Wow! We’re quite choked up. Thank you, Wauna Credit Union,” said Sullivan. “We couldn’t continue without such kindness from the community!”

“The Astoria Warming Center depends on our community partners in order to serve those most in need, Annie Martin added. “We are grateful to the Astoria First United Methodist Church who allows us to use their first level for the center. We also are grateful for the local restaurants who are still donating meals despite the mandated closures due to COVID-19.”

Cheryl Paul, the Center Coordinator for a number of years, said she was proud that the Astoria Warming Center offers up to 28 beds on the nights they are open, as well as offering the public showers on Wednesday afternoons from noon to 4:00PM. “It has been so important to people with nowhere else to go, to have a safe, warm place to get out of the winter weather. Thank you, WCU employees!”

Annually, WUC chooses a new corporate charity to support through employee contributions and volunteer work. For 2021, the employees chose the Amani Center in St Helens www.amanicenter.org. The Amani Center (The Columbia County Child Abuse Assessment Center) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization created to assist our community in responding to child abuse.

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

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.

Clatsop SBDC, Wauna Credit Union and OSU Extension Bring Free Small Business Education to Clatsop County

Small business owners will continue to have access to no-cost, practical education thanks to a new collaboration between the Clatsop Community College Small Business Development Center, Wauna Credit Union, and Oregon State University Extension.

This collaboration has launched a digital masterclass series, “Summer Small Business Bootcamp,” where new and existing business owners can learn from business experts in seven sessions covering topics critical to business success including strategic planning, financial management, marketing, and human resources. The classes will be offered live via Zoom and then available on-demand so busy business owners can design their own learning path. 

Lindsay Davis of Oregon State University said of the collaboration: “We see great value in combining forces and resources to best support the rebound of Clatsop County’s economy in this time of great need. By working in partnership with Clatsop Community College’s SBDC, it will be a solid one-two punch of University and Community College educational offerings for the community.”

Clatsop Community College SBDC will receive $7500 in total in direct and indirect support to fund the digital series that will be offered free to the public through live streams and on-demand videos, starting July 14th.

Michael Murdoch of Wauna Credit Union said “Building relationships with organizations like the SBDC links directly to our vision and mission as a financial cooperative. Moreover, the SBDC truly fosters our local economies, encouraging profits to stay close to home and providing invaluable support to our neighborhoods and communities.”

In addition to the Boot Camp masterclasses, community members looking to hone their leadership skills can participate in the Clatsop SBDC’s “Books & Brews” Leadership Book Club.  This summer’s reading is Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead and will be facilitated by Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director, David Reid.  The first meeting of the book club will be July 15 and pre-registration is required.

Jessica Newhall, Associate Director of the Clatsop SBDC said “Our mission is to help our region’s small business community thrive. Wauna Credit Union and OSU Extension’s support ensures all small business owners can access no-cost, practical education designed to help them overcome challenges and be positioned for success.”

Notable speakers leading the boot camp include Seth Morrisey of Oregon Web Solutions, Alyssa Logan of Fort George, Chelsea Morrisey of Morrisey Digital, and Sarah Lambert of Riverview Bookkeeping.

For more information and to register for the Summer Small Business Boot Camp or Books & Brews Leadership Book Club, visit www.bizcenter.org/Clatsop

Non-Discrimination Declaration 
It is the policy of Clatsop Community College that there will be no discrimination or harassment on the grounds of race, color, sex, gender, marital status, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or disability in any educational programs, activities, or employment. Questions or complaints should be directed to Naomi Garbutt, Affirmative Action/Gender Equity (Title IX) Officer, Towler Hall, Suite 110, ngarbutt@clatsopcc.edu 503-338- 2450; TDD 503-338-2468. The Director of Disability Services, Mallory Vollner, is located in Towler Hall, Suite 104A, mvollner@clatsopcc.edu 503-338-2474. 

Accommodations 
Persons having questions about or a request for special needs and accommodation should contact JoAnn Zahn, Vice President of Finance and Operations, at Clatsop Community College, 1651 Lexington Avenue, Astoria, Oregon 97103, Library Suite 110,  jzahn@clatsopcc.edu Phone (503) 338-2421 or TDD (503) 338-2468. Please send special needs and accommodations requests here. Contact should be made at least two business days in advance of the event. 

 
Declaración de no-discriminación 
Es la política de Clatsop Community College que no habrá ningún tipo de discriminación o acoso por razón de raza, color, sexo, género, estado civil, religión, origen nacional, edad, orientación sexual, identidad de género o expresióno discapacidad en los programas educativos, actividades o en la contratación. Preguntas o quejas deben ser dirigidas al Naomi Garbutt, Oficial de Acción Afirmativa / Título IX localizado en Towler Hall número 110  ngarbutt@clatsopcc.edu número de teléfono 503-338-2450, TDD (discapacidad auditiva) 503-338-2468. Director de Discapacidad Dervices, Mallory Vollner, se encuentra en Towler Hall, numero 104A, mvollner@clatsopcc.edu número de teléfono 503-338-2474. Para ADA y otras peticiones de servicios llame al 503-338-2474 o para TDD (discapacidad auditiva) 503-338-2468. 

Ayuda a personas discapacitadas 

En cuanto a las personas discapacitadas, se les pide que se comuniquen con JoAnn Zahn, la Vice Presidente de Finanzas y Operaciones en Clatsop Community College, 1651 Lexington Avenue, Astoria, Oregon 97103, Library Suite 110,  jzahn@clatsopcc.edu número teléfonico (503) 338-2421 o a TDD (503) 338-2468. Haga el favor de notificar a la oficina para que se le pueda proporcionar apoyo. La comunicación debe tomar lugar por lo menos dos días de trabajo antes del evento por el cual se requiera tal ayuda. Para más información, vea la página Web de Clatsop Community College bajo Información en Español. 

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

Alert: Unemployment Fraud

The NW Credit Union Association has alerted us to a significant increase in unemployment fraud hitting or footprint. Please be aware if you, your friends, or family are asked for your account information and then see a deposit from a state unemployment division. Scammers are using this new method to conduct fake check scams https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-spot-avoid-and-report-fake-check-scams

Washington state law enforcement has recently reported investigating a widespread fraud campaign in which victims’ identities are being used to file false unemployment claims. While similar reports have not be issued for Idaho and Oregon, other states across the country are reporting the latest in fraud trends. Victims, who have not filed unemployment claims, have received notification from their employer’s Human Resources department, or the State Employment Securities Department, indicating an unemployment claim has been filed on their behalf.

The Seattle Police Department’s cyber-crime investigators have recommended the following steps for anyone who knows, or believes, they are a victim of unemployment fraud. Credit unions may wish to share this information with their members who may be potential victims of this fraud.

Steps to Protect Your Financial Identity & Credit History

  • Step One – Contact Human Resources
    • Contact your organization’s HR staff to coordinate and report the incident to your employer.
  • Step Two – Contact Your State’s ESD
    • Call the State Employment Security Department (ESD) (Idaho: 877-540-8638 or Fraud@labor.idaho.gov; Oregon: 877-668-3204; Washington: 800-246-9763 to report the fraud or contact the ESD via an online form: https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/webform/ContactUS/)
    • You will need the following information for identity verification:
      • Last 4 of your SSN
      • Date of birth, address
      • Current phone number
      • Information on how you learned a claim was filed on your behalf
  • Step Three – Police Report
    • File an online or non-emergency report with the agency whose jurisdiction you live in.
    • Start keeping a file folder or journal with the information from this incident, including any case numbers. Some government services and accommodations are available to victims of identity theft that are not available to the general public, such as getting certain public records sealed.
  • Step Four – The Three Major Credit Bureaus
    • Obtain your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228
    • Report to the credit bureaus that the fraudulent claim was made using your identity and provide them with the case number from your police report. You can have a fraud alert put on your identity or freeze your credit. Doing either is free by law.
      • A fraud alert is free and will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. To place a fraud alert, contact one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two.
      • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
      • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
      • Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
    • Check your credit activity at least once a year. As a victim of identity-theft you have the right to check it monthly if you choose.
    • Credit Freeze – If you do not have upcoming large purchases, such as a home, you may want to freeze your credit for more protection. It is free and you can do it yourself. More information about freezing your credit can be found here.
  • Step Five – FTC & IRS
    • File a short report with the FTC and give them the case number for your local police report. The FTC offers more information here.
    • Consider setting up an IRS account. If you create an account with your social security number, it will prevent criminals from creating an account using your identity.
    • Another option is to lock your social security number, which can be done here. (The next wave of this cyber-attack may be IRS tax fraud.)
    • All of this reporting seems redundant, but we want to make sure you are recognized as a victim by the local, state, and federal government. Also, the more people who report it, the more support law enforcement agents will receive to pursue the perpetrators.
  • Step Six – Keep Your Notes
    • Hang on to any notes, copies of emails, etc regarding the issue. This is the paper trail that you can reference if you face any identity issues or locate inaccuracies on your credit history sometime in the future.

Protecting Your Data and Identity
You are done dealing with the fallout from this unemployment fraud incident, but may choose to further protect yourself from cyber-crime. Below are some steps and resources that the cyber-crime detectives recommend for anyone wanting additional protections for themselves and their families.

  • Control Your Own Information