Formula For Distributing 9/11 Donations Announced

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After four months of collecting donations and wading through government regulations, the New York State Credit Union Foundation has arrived at a formula for distributing the more than $1 million collected by credit unions to aid victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Families of credit union members who lost their lives as a result of the deliberate plane crashes at the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania field are eligible for $1,000 each, said Kathy Febraio, VP of Public Relations and Marketing.

'Conservative' Approach Used

Febraio said after many foundation board discussions, members agreed to disperse the money in "conservative" amounts to ensure every CU member affected gets a portion of the money.

"We decided that we'd rather err on the side of making sure there is enough money for everyone," Febraio said. "We will have to review that later to see what funds remain and whether we'll need to do another outreach." Febraio and Foundation Director Frank Kerbein said the $1,000 figure was roughly arrived at by considering the total number of deceased and how many might have been credit union members.

"With about 3,000 deceased and one-third of the general population belonging to credit unions, we have a potential of a thousand claimants," Kerbein said. "And a thousand claimants at $1,000 each totals a million dollars."

The NYSCUL's subsidiary, Consolidated League Services, has pledged to handle administrative expenses up to $10,000 so that 100% of the donations go toward victims' families.

James Mack, Foundation Chairman and manager of St. Clare's Hospital EFCU in Schenectady, N.Y., said recipients would include families of credit union members from all over the world.

"Donations came from all facets of the credit union community, from all 50 states, and a number of foreign countries," he said, adding that it seems fair then that the money supports people in all of those places. "Credit union members are all part of a global community."

Identifying Recepients

Since the decision on how the funds would be dispersed was announced on Jan. 17, credit unions have been notified by NYSCUF officials to scroll their records for members who died as a result of the attacks.

"We sent out requests in our newsletter and broadcast faxes and are forwarding the information to the National Credit Union Administration and the World Council of Credit Unions," Febraio said.

Once the victims and their beneficiaries are identified, a CU official or a family member can fill out a grant application briefing explaining their financial need. Once the application is reviewed by the Foundation, the funds will be sent to the appropriate CU for disbursement.

Kerbein said applications are available online at www.nyscul.org. They can be mailed or fax to Kerbein's care at New York Credit Union Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 15118, Albany, NY 12212-5118. Deadline is April 30.Febraio said it was unclear how long it will take to identify beneficiaries, review applications and distribute the money.

And, while many of these families have already received money - an average of $800,000 each, according to news reports -- from other sources including the American Red Cross and the United Way, NYSCUF officials are confident their contributions will be well spent.

"There's the initial outpouring of support to help with immediate needs," Febraio said. "But there's always secondary needs and longer term debts that crop up."

The NYSCUF was established by the state's league in 1995 to support credit union development issues and serve as a conduit for financial aid to victims of natural disasters. Its first mission was aiding family of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. The foundation also raised funds to aid those adversely impacted by ice storm in 1998 and a tornado in 1999, both in New York.

For more information about the Disaster Relief Funds, contact Kerbein at (800) 342-9835m ext, 8107, or at fkerbein nyscul.org.

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