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Credit Union Foundation invests locally

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By Rosie Molinary

The laundry at Durham Rescue Mission’s Good Samaritan Inn was piling up.

The former motel, now a shelter for women and children, had only one washing machine to meet the needs of 70 units of occupants, and Executive Director Ernie Mills was looking for a solution.

That solution came this fall in the form of a $10,500 check from the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation’s micro-grant program.

“The inn had a laundry room in it when we bought it, but the equipment was all shot,” says Mills. “We are going to redo the room with the grant which will afford us three commercial washing machines and a couple commercial dryers.”

Introduced in November 2005, the program has already distributed $182,186 in micro-community grants to 13 recipients.

The foundation and its member organizations host fundraisers throughout the year to raise the necessary funds for the program.   Comprised of the almost 200 credit unions in existence in the Carolinas, the foundation galvanizes the group’s resources so the credit unions can have an exceptional philanthropic impact, says John Slack, the foundation’s executive director.

“One of the things that credit unions stand for is giving back to their communities,” he says. “We thought that if we could find local charities, we could have a pretty substantial impact right in our back yard.”

Leadership groups for the foundation’s chapters find local organizations and give them grant applications the Foundation will consider for special projects “that individual credit unions couldn’t do to this scale on their own,” says Slack.

By allowing each local chapter to nominate a nonprofit and write a letter of support on its behalf, he says, the foundation hopes to further encourage the chapters to become involved with nonprofits through volunteerism and advocacy.

This inaugural year’s grants supported organizations throughout the Carolinas.

At Providence Home in Southport, N.C., for example, a micro-grant will provide a new roof for their shelter.

A micro-grant is funding a semester of riding therapy at HorsePOWER in Colfax, N.C.

And a new game room was provided to a Boys & Girls Club in Sumter, S.C.

“We really want to find out what each chapter is into and help make that happen,” Slack says. “We don’t want to put a dollar on what we are giving. If we find plenty of opportunities out there, we will go raise more money.”

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