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People helping people Verity Credit Union 2019 Community Impact Report

To put it simply, credit unions don’t exist to make money—they exist to help people. At Verity, that core belief informs everything we do. In good times and in tough, we’re here for you.

In 2019 we pushed ourselves to engage with our communities more than ever before.

Verity staff volunteering during the 5th annual Community Service Day

Staff volunteered thousands of hours of their free time to support community organizations with everything from cleaning to financial education to mentorship. We rallied behind a member having financial difficulties, to help her keep her house. We transformed a nonprofit organization’s banking situation, so they could focus on fulfilling their mission. We took a huge step forward to reduce our carbon footprint.

The four stories below highlight just a few of the ways Verity is helping people right here in Western Washington. We invite you to join us to make a positive impact in your community.

Helping our neighbors, one at a time

When longtime member Linda L. reached out to Verity to refinance her personal loan again, she was scared about losing her home. The 30-year member lives on limited retirement income and had gotten a few years behind on property taxes.

During a conversation with a Verity loan officer, Andrea, about stretching out her personal loan payments, she shared the fact her house would be foreclosed on soon if she didn’t get caught up on property taxes. Rather than focus on the request Linda made to refinance her personal loan, Andrea dug in to her situation to see how Verity could help her keep her home and get set up on more solid financial footing.

Verity staff prepares meals for Teen Feed in Seattle

Andrea made some calls on Linda’s behalf and learned Linda qualified for reduced property taxes. The two of them worked together to fill out paperwork, and then Andrea submitted it on Linda’s behalf because the retiree doesn’t have easy access to technology.

But Linda’s story doesn’t stop there. Andrea put into motion the rest of the Verity team. Verity’s personal financial coach, Member Solutions department, and loan officers from our mortgage partner, Credit Union Home Mortgage Solutions (CUHMS), gathered together and brainstormed what they could do to help Linda. Linda didn’t have a traditional mortgage on the home, but she did have a second mortgage with Verity and liens against her house. It was decided a modified mortgage refinance would be the most beneficial, allowing Linda to wrap in some other debt and reduce her monthly expenses.

Communities have all kinds of needs, and we're there in all sorts of ways

CUHMS staff partnered with Verity’s loan department and Alderwood branch staff to ensure Linda’s complicated application and situation were handled in a way that benefited everyone involved. The team dealt with a variety of agencies, including King County and Linda’s HOA, to ensure everything was completed in time to save Linda’s home from foreclosure.

Linda was able to stay in her home and is continuing to work with Verity’s personal financial coach to keep her finances in check.

Linda was able to stay in her home and is continuing to work with Verity’s personal financial coach to keep her finances in check. By refinancing her mortgage, not only was she able to start paying off her reduced property taxes, but she’s been able to adjust her monthly budget so she can afford her medications, pet care, and grocery costs. And, she was able to get an escrow account with her new mortgage, allowing her to know her taxes are covered moving forward.

This is what makes Verity different—every member is important and has a different situation, potentially requiring a different approach. Rather than telling Linda “no”, Verity staff found a way to say “yes” to her challenging situation. Creative approaches allow us to find creative solutions to meet people’s needs and let our communities thrive.

Verity dollars help thousands of local people like Linda L.

Your deposit dollars at Verity help local people buy cars and homes, and start small businesses

Creating unique tools for small nonprofits

Business banking for small nonprofit organizations can be a daunting experience. Many times, it’s difficult to find a single financial institution that has all of the complex accounts and loans needed to run a small nonprofit organization at a reasonable price point and with flexibility that works for their sometimes unusual structure. Frequently, accounts and loans are spread across many banks or credit unions, each with different account rules and restrictions, making it hard to efficiently manage the financial side of a community-oriented organization.

Staff from The Bureau of Fearless Ideas

This is exactly the situation one local nonprofit, The Bureau of Fearless Ideas (BFI), found itself in. The organization, which empowers youth aged 6-18 to be the authors of their own future through creative writing and storytelling, had accumulated accounts at three separate financial institutions in order to meet its financial needs. The situation became untenable and frustrating, navigating the different fees and minimum balance requirements on the accounts. In one instance, the organization had a large amount of money but was unable to use it due to a minimum balance requirement at one financial institution to keep the accounts open and avoid large monthly service fees.

Verity offered all the products and services BFI needed, without the monthly service fees, without the balance requirements, without the hassle ...

In stepped Verity, with their lineup of nonprofit accounts and local, community-centric branches. Verity offered all the products and services BFI needed, without the monthly service fees, without the balance requirements, without the hassle of having a financial institution that doesn’t understand your needs and what it’s like to truly be part of a local community. The transition to Verity was easy, quick, and painless, and BFI is in a better financial position simply by switching to a local credit union. This allows the Greenwood-based nonprofit to focus efforts on what it does best: empowering students through afterschool tutoring programs, in-class field trips, classroom visits to the center, and workshops focusing on everything from songwriting to comic book creation.

But Verity didn’t stop there. Throughout their life as an organization, BFI was interested in opening a line of credit to help smooth out the monthly up and down of a nonprofit organization that relies on donations and grants to prosper and grow. After approaching their previous financial institutions, BFI was advised not to apply for a line of credit without having significant collateral available, which is something many smaller nonprofits don’t have readily available.

From nonprofit appreciation days to volunteering, Verity employees support nonprofits in a variety of ways year round

Instead of looking at numbers on a page and blanket minimum requirements, Verity dove deeper into the relationship BFI had with the community, the values they stood for, and took time to learn the organizational plan and examine more closely the numbers and how money flowed in and out of BFI. Happily, within months of moving everything over to Verity, BFI was able to acquire a line of credit that helps the organization better manage their monthly expenses, so when that foundation check arrives a week late, it does not affect the programming and their ability to serve all of the students they help on a daily basis.

... BFI was able to acquire a line of credit that helps the organization better manage their monthly expenses ...

Along with all the help Verity has provided BFI as an organization, we’ve also been able to help some of the employees by offering a suite of nonprofit employee accounts, which benefit the individuals who have dedicated their working life to a nonprofit organization and everything that comes along with that. This in turn helps strengthen the community by ensuring more people have more access to an amazing nonprofit organization like The Bureau of Fearless Ideas and the tools of a community-supporting financial institution like Verity Credit Union.

Dollars doing good

Small business is our business

Vibrant communities feature thriving small businesses. Historically, it has been difficult for women- and minority-owned businesses to get the proper financing they need to get started. This is where Verity and local organization Business Impact NW are filling a need.

Verity is proud to be part of the West Seattle business community

Business Impact NW defines itself as an economic development organization whose mission is to assist small businesses in underserved communities on their path to success. The nonprofit provides advice, training, and access to equitable small business loans. The capital for their loans is provided by multiple Seattle-area credit unions, including Verity.

But, Verity’s relationship with Business Impact NW extends beyond simply supplying capital. One service that Business Impact NW offers to all aspiring, new, and established business owners is one-on-one business coaching. Verity’s Chief Lending Officer Tina Narron participated as a business coach in 2019, assisting folks from multiple backgrounds and industries in developing their businesses. Sometimes mentees wanted guidance on banking and bookkeeping, other times they were curious about FICO scores or tax procedures. Tina's role was to act as a sounding board, leveraging her experience to help her mentees with problems great and small.

Showing support for local businesses

One example of Tina’s mentorship is when she mentored a woman who had started her own dog walking business. The dog walker had questions ranging from best business practices to how to adequately align her books. To avoid double-paying on her taxes, Tina advised her mentee to seek out a professional tax accountant to assist her. Leveraging her connections at Business Impact NW, Tina was able to introduce her mentee to a tax accountant who had been a participant of the business coaching program in the past. After connecting these two entrepreneurs, Tina went on to further mentor the tax accountant on structuring a proposal to become permanently employed with Business Impact NW. By going above and beyond, Tina managed to help two small business owners advance their careers.

Verity prides itself on being an ally to small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses. However, it is through our partnership with Business Impact NW that we truly demonstrate the multifaceted way we provide support to our community’s small businesses, lifting them up in ways that extend beyond just the monetary.

Volunteering snapshot

Committing to limit climate change

Verity has long been a proponent of environmental stewardship, with loans for eco-friendly cars, solar panels, and bicycles; buildings with LEED certification; strong recycling and composting programs; and electric vehicle charging stations.

But in March 2019, Verity took a stronger, global stand for the environment by signing the Climate Change Commitment. Following the Global Alliance for Banking on Values Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia, a group of financial institutions, including Verity, committed to measuring the carbon footprint of our entire loan and investment portfolio within three years.

Did you know? Verity is a proud member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and one of only a few institutions in the United States to sign the Climate Change Commitment.

Verity is on track to fulfill our end of the Climate Change Commitment by 2021. Global Alliance for Banking on Values leaders have worked tirelessly to adopt a climate measurement methodology known as the Platform for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF), which will be used to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions of all of our loans and investments.

We strive to make positive impacts on the environment

The Climate Change Commitment is especially meaningful for our CEO, John Zmolek. Verity was one of only six financial institutions in the U.S. and the only one in the Pacific Northwest to sign the Commitment. When asked why Verity chose to sign, Zmolek said, “It is not enough to sit back and wait for someone else to take action.”

Verity is on track to fulfill our end of the Climate Change Commitment by 2021.

Truth and transparency is at the heart of everything we do. That is why the Climate Change Commitment is so important to Verity – by adopting a common methodology for measuring our carbon footprint, we are being truthful and transparent about where we invest our members’ money. From there, we can adjust our lending and investment portfolio to reduce negative impacts on the environment. It is our hope that by being a part of this global movement, we inspire other financial institutions to do the same.

From small business to climate health: investing in what matters

Are you ready to join us in making a positive impact?

Where you bank matters.

Where you bank can either support Wall Street executives, or support hardworking, local people who need a helping hand—like Linda L.

Where you bank can either invest in private prison systems, or invest in small businesses and nonprofits—like The Bureau of Fearless Ideas and Business Impact NW.

Where you bank can either fund new oil fields, or fund new, innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint—like the Climate Change Commitment.

Bank on good—right here at Verity.

Make your impact.

A very special thank you

to the many nonprofits, local businesses, artists, musicians, community partners, and friends who we've had the pleasure to partner with throughout the year:

Abigail Neilson

Abraham Neuwelt

Alaskan Way Stakeholder Advisory Group

Alpha Tau Omega National Fraternity

Alyssa Martini

Amanda Jorgenson

Amber Leaders

Anastasia Rudenco

Anna Elizabeth Laube

Anne Livingston

ArtsEd Washington

Ben Mish

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound

Bike Works

Billy Brandt

Birch Pereira

Boy Scouts of America

Boys and Girls Club

Bureau of Fearless Ideas

Business Impact NW

CFA Society Seattle

Champagne Honeybee

Chris Kelleher

Christine Olson

City of Lynnwood

Cleveland High School Boys Basketball

Climate Action Families

Clothes For Kids

Country Doctor Community Health Centers

Credit Unions for Kids

Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC)

Credit Union National Association (CUNA)

D. Lisa West

Delridge Grocery Co-op

Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association

Delridge Neighborhoods District Council

Downtown Emergency Service Center

E. R. Saba

Elijah Dhavvan

Emily McVicker

Environmental Coalition of South Seattle

FamilyWorks

FareStart

Festa Italiana Seattle

Forever Home Dog Rescue

Free Letters Home

Fremont Abbey Arts Center

Global Alliance for Banking on Values

Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA)

Green Lake Chamber of Commerce

Greenwood Car Show

Gretchen Yanover

Habitat for Humanity

Hope for Today

Hopelink

Housing Development Consortium

Ian Hameroff

Italian Festival of Seattle

Jennifer Ellis

Jeremiah Hammer

Jesse Link

John Osgood

Judd Wasserman

Junior Achievement of Washington

Katie Kuffel

Kellogg Middle School

Kent Lions Association

King County Chapter of Credit Unions

Kris Ekstrand

Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation

Lanny Bergner

Lauren Maxwell

Lavender Rights Project

Lee Harper

Levi Hastings

Lynnwood Chamber of Commerce

Latino Educational Training Institute

Lynnwood Parks and Recreation Foundation

Lynnwood Police Department

Marina Christopher

Mary's Place

Matthew Pritchett

Maxx Follis-Goodkind

Metro Parks Tacoma

Michael Trew

Moisture Festival

Morgan Bak

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Seattle)

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

North Seattle College Education Fund

Northgate Elementary School

Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA)

Northwest Harvest

Northwest Sarcoma Foundation

Order Sons and Daughters Italy in America, Grand Lodge of the Northwest

Oscar Baechler

Pam Wishbow

Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA)

Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council

Populuxe Brewing

Rainier Valley Food Bank

Rainier Valley Leadership Academy

Rat City Roller Derby

Rebuilding Together Seattle

Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts

Ridgecrest Elementary School

Robin Jordan

Roosevelt Neighborhood Association

Seattle Children's

Seattle Colleges Education Fund

Seattle Gift Wrap Project

Seattle Neighborhood Group

Seattle Planning Commission

Seattle Pride

Seattle Sons of Italy

Senior Center of West Seattle

Shorewood High School

Shoultes Elementary School

Solar Washington

Soundview Little League

Southeast Seattle Senior Center

Southwest Precinct Advisory Committee

Southwest Youth and Family Services

St. Catherine of Siena Church

St. Catherine School

St. Luke's Episcopal Church/Edible Hope

St. Luke Parish

St. Luke School

Sustainable Seattle

Sydney Davis

Teen Feed

Tobias the Owl

Theatre Battery

Thunderbird Select Basketball Club

Transitional Resources

United Way King County

Valerie Niemeyer

Visualizing Increased Engagement in West Seattle (VIEWS)

Wallingford Community Senior Center

Wallingford United Methodist Church

Washington Women's Business Center

Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students)

West Seattle Chamber of Commerce

West Seattle Food Bank

WestSide Baby

The Whole Bolivian Army

The Winterlings

Young Credit Union Professionals

Zoee Xiao