Mississippi CU Grateful To Kentucky CU And CEO It Didn't Used To Know

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Gulf Coast Community FCU President Lisa Lindsey didn't know who William Rissel was, much less that he had adopted her credit union.

Unknown to her, the Fort Knox FCU president had signed with CUNA's R.E.S.C.U. Adopt-a-Credit Union program to offer aid to CUs stricken during Hurricane Katrina. CUNA decided to team Fort Knox with Gulf Coast Community Federal Credit Union in the credit union spirit of helping the best that they can.

"All I know is this man named Bill Rissel called and said he adopted my credit union," she said. "He's been absolutely a godsend. I haven't asked for anything. Before I can even ask, he's just offering."

Katrina was harsh to Gulf Coast Community. The $49-million CU had three sites damaged, including one "smashed" by high winds and rushing water. Six of Lindsey's employees lost their homes entirely or are uninhabitable due to damage.

Fort Knox was paired with Gulf Coast as part of CUNA's R.E.S.C.U. program, which stands for Relief Effort and Support for Credit Unions. CUs can donate cash, equipment or join the adoption program, where CUNA pairs two credit unions based on levels of resources, CEO commitment, location, core data processor and similarity of FOM.

After the "adoption," Kentucky-based Fort Knox FCU was all set to transport a modular office to Gulfport, Miss., which would have allowed Gulf Coast to use as a main office for up to 15 months. Fort Knox was even going to pick up the tab for moving the modular building. Rissel said Gulf Coast officials decided against the modular office when they realized the spot on which it would rest would interfere with rebuilding the damaged main office. Rissel is also providing advice on building contractors and construction practices as he has supervised many building projects during his 35 years in the credit union industry.

"One of the biggest things they need right now is liquidity. They have a high demand for withdrawals and at the same time (members) need loans," he said.

To help provide funds for Gulf Coast Community, Rissel has contacted other CUs about investing in new low-interest certificates of deposit (CD). Rissel said credit unions can buy a CD worth $100,000 or $250,000 paying a 1% dividend. So far, Provident Credit Union, Redwood City, Calif., has purchased a $250,000 CD, while Kentucky Employees CU in Frankfort, Ky., and Forum Federal Credit Union in Indianapolis, both bought $100,000 CDs each. "It's just like any other CD," he said.

Rissel stressed he is in a supporting role providing material assistance and any counsel he can, but is avoiding telling someone else how to run their own credit union. "We're in contact everyday and finding out how we can help," he said. "They would be making all the decisions."

Lindsey also praised the efforts of Ent Credit Union of Colorado Springs, Colo., which donated the use of two mobile branches with Ent officials transporting them all the way to Mississippi. "Everybody has been awesome," she said.

Rissel said he was most happy that one individual credit union, Fort Knox FCU, could help literally thousands of people during a crisis. Fort Knox FCU has $418 million in assets and credit unions interested in buying the low-rate CDs can contact William Rissel at wjrissel knoxfcu.net.

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