The Power of Cooperation: Carolinas Foundation Awards Disaster Grant to Turbine FCU

KERNERSVILLE, NC  — The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation (CCUF) has awarded $5,000 in disaster relief funds to Greenville-based Turbine Federal Credit Union. Turbine received the grant after a catastrophic roof collapse of the GE Aviation plant in South Carolina, where one of its branch offices is located.

The $25 million SEG-based credit union, originally opened its Aviation branch in July of 2014 and quickly learned of the need for affordable financial services in the area. The community surrounding the branch is located in a CDIF-certified area and is served by only four traditional financial institutions and more than twice that number of fringe providers.

As Turbine was making plans to expand its field of membership in that area, tragedy struck when the GE Aviation plant’s roof gave way on June 10, 2015 after a series of severe thunderstorms in the Upstate. The building was flooded with more than six inches of water. As a result, the branch sustained significant damage and remains closed for repairs with plans to reopen in February 2016.

Lauren Whaley, the Foundation’s newly appointed president recounts the exchange with Turbine. “The Foundation received a call over the holidays from the credit union’s business development & marketing officer, Kerri Smith. After hearing about the tough year for Turbine and its mounting expenses for branch repairs, I knew the Foundation’s Board would be eager to help.”

Kerri quickly submitted a proposal to the Foundation for grant funds to help recoup a portion Turbine’s operational expenses. While the structural cost of the repair will be borne by GE, insurance only covered a portion of the repair costs. The credit union was left with more than $30,000 in unbudgeted expenses to up-fit the branch. Ultimately, the Foundation Board unanimously voted to offer Turbine a $5,000 grant through the Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund and the check was presented in the final days of 2015.

However, the power of cooperation doesn’t end with the Foundation’s assistance.

The main office of Turbine FCU is located in another GE facility and prior to the damage at the Aviation plant, plans were in motion to move main office operations to the Aviation location during a mandatory closure in the first week of July 2015. When the roof of the GE Aviation plant collapsed in June, just weeks before the office transition, Turbine management went to work to find a temporary location for its operations. Carolina Foothills Federal Credit Union kindly gave Turbine a teller station and two cubicles in its call center for the week.

“The board and management would like to sincerely thank the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation and their board for the grant we received due to the disaster we experienced in 2015,” said Turbine’s Kerri Smith. “Without the help of CCUF and the generosity of the Carolina’s credit unions, our financial outlook would be much different. We would also like to thank Scott Weaver, the board, and staff of Carolina Foothills Federal Credit Union that allowed us to operate out of their branch office when our main office was on a forced shutdown in July. This disaster taught us the value of the credit union movement and of affiliation in our regional credit union system.”

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