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WA Credit Unions Mark National Co-Op Month

About 550 branches of cooperatively-modeled credit unions operate in Washington state. (Hepta/Adobe Stock)
About 550 branches of cooperatively-modeled credit unions operate in Washington state. (Hepta/Adobe Stock)
October 15, 2019

SPOKANE, Wash. — October is National Co-Op Month, and among the most popular cooperatives in Washington state are credit unions. The not-for-profit financial institutions boast 4.3 million members statewide.

Credit unions have a cooperative business model, but they also cooperate with each other. On Thursday, which is also International Credit Union Day, 19 Spokane-area credit unions are coming together to help Mid-City Concerns, a senior center with a branch of Meals on Wheels in their facility.

Traci McGlathery is director of community relations with STCU, formerly known as the Spokane Teachers Credit Union.

"They're a very valued part of our downtown community,” McGlathery said. “They provide nutritional and a social lifeline for seniors who are experiencing homelessness or are existing off of incomes far below the federal poverty level."

There are about 550 credit-union branches across Washington state. Credit unions, like other cooperatives, are member-owned businesses.

McGlathery said in the 1930s, credit unions were mainly collections of folks within the same profession - such as teachers in the case of STCU - pooling their resources together to help one another. She said the spirit of those early days still exists.

"We really are serving our membership in the best way that they need us to provide,” she said. “And it makes it a lot easier to not compete with one another because we really kind of have those same principles."

Credit unions and other cooperative models began to expand in the wake of the Great Depression.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA