Somethings are destined to get embedded in our memories. Who doesn’t know what you are referring to when you say nine eleven? Acronyms, letters and numbers combine to represent milestones in our history. WWII is such a marker. So too is COVID-19. The coronavirus a fortnight ago was a topic of concern and viewed by many as a problem some distance away. Others referred to it as a hoax or media embellishment. Not the case only a short number of days later. How quickly things can change!

People who didn’t understand the concept of exponential growth, now do. Each is now a variable in the equation. New terms sprang up, self-isolation and social distancing. Many are taking the pandemic seriously, others not so much.

Many companies have directed staff to work from home. Thankfully technology makes it an option for many. Some industries and sectors don’t have this luxury. Personal services, retail, bar and restaurant workers are being hit hard. Airline, hotel and related travel employees are nervous with layoffs pending. The stock market down 30 percent. The economy is getting squeezed. Hard.

Our healthcare professionals are our new superheroes. Front line staff are masking up and keeping hospital and clinic doors open. Researchers, virologists, chemists, infectious disease specialists are working overtime researching medical and social policy countermeasures.

This post started as a prelude to explain the cancellation of our Foundation’s AGM in April due to COVID-19 concerns. I digressed. A lot.

Wash your hands, don’t touch your face. Stay home if you can. Be smart. This is about you, your family, your neighbours, your co-workers, and everyone we share this planet with. Let’s look out for each other.

A final thought. When will toilet paper be back on the shelf? (Asking for a friend)

Recognizing Legacy Funds

The OCUF Board of Directors review our numerous donor funds on an annual basis to ensure we are administering the funds in the spirit in which they were established and to ensure compliance with CRA requirements.

As part of the annual review, three funds had fallen dormant and it was decided to amalgamate these funds into the CU Succeed Your Bursary Fund as the funds had encouraged educational support. The CU Succeed Youth Bursary Permanent Capital Fund was established in 2019 to recognize the foundation’s 40 years serving the credit unions of Ontario. The fund assists post-secondary students in pursuing their academic, vocational, or technical education.

We didn’t want to let these fund legacies go without recognition.

The Gary Gillam Memorial Fund was established in 1988 by the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES). In 1994, the name of the fund was changed in memory of Gary Gillam, CEO of Universities and Colleges Credit Union, who died in 1993.

The Norman Alexander Memorial Bursary Fund was established in 1987 with funds donated in the will of Eileen Taylor Alexander to honour her late husband, Norman Alexander, the fund’s initial purpose was to provide scholarships to aid young men who are without fathers to help further their education.

The George Currie Memorial Fund was established in 1997 by the Hamilton & District Credit Union in memory of George Currie, a strong supporter of the credit union for many years. We are always open to discussing the establishment of permanent capital or community investment funds for your credit union or cooperative.

2020 CU Succeed Youth Bursary Campaign

Spring may not yet be here, but it isn’t too early to be thinking about CU Succeed Youth Bursaries for your members! This year we will be awarding $75,000 to deserving post-secondary students. We fund these bursaries in two ways. The first is from the Golf Classic in June, the other is involvement by credit unions in the CUSYB Campaign.

Again this year, we are asking Credit Unions to join forces and have some fun raising funds for the bursaries. The details of the 2020 Campaign are now available. Over the past two years, credit unions contributed $23,383 to the campaign! We know Alterna is already talking it up with their branches!

This is a great opportunity to have some fun in your branches and head office departments, while supporting a great cause. The good news is, this is a campaign in a box. It is all set out for you. We can set up a dedicated donation page on our website for your members and staff to use. There is a branch guide you can download with different ideas to consider. Click here for more information on the campaign.

Mike Shepherd – Lifetime Achievement Award

We were excited to learn Mike Shepherd was recently announced as the Milton Chamber of Commerce 2019 Community Awards recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations Mike! This award is presented to a community leader who lives in and has participated in the progression and success of the Town of Milton for a minimum of 20 years. Further, “the individual has devoted themself continuously throughout their lifetime and has a resume full of contributions and achievements in a variety of different facets.”

Mike was born and raised in Milton. A lifetime credit union member, Mike Shepherd’s credit union leadership journey began 33 years ago when he was first appointed President and CEO of Prosperity ONE Credit Union.  

Mike was a recipient of the Alan Marentette Manager of the Year award in 2008 (by the Ontario Credit Union Managers Association). He was recognized as the Milton Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 Business Person of the Year. In 2008 and 2011 he was a Top Ten Fundraiser for the MS Super Cities Walk. In 2012 Mike and Prosperity ONE Credit Union received the OCUF Outstanding Corporate Achievement Award. Mike was also a proud recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013.

Mike believes in the values and principles of the credit union movement, one that is grounded in respect, appreciation and a mutually beneficial relationship with its members.  Mike is a Board Director with FirstOntario and a lifetime member of OCUF.

29th Golf Classic Announced

We are excited to announce the date and location of the 29th Golf Classic. It will be held on Monday June 8, 2020 at The Club at Bond Head.

The Club at Bond Head offers the ultimate golf experience just minutes west of Highway 400, a few kilometres north of Aurora, Ontario. Two magnificent courses, designed by the renowned firm of Hurdzan-Fry, are presided over by a palatial clubhouse.

We will be playing the South Course, a links-style track, with wide fairways, gaping bunkers and fescue roughs. You might want to bring your Scottish accent to feel at home here!

The past two years we have held the Golf Classic in Toronto to make it a bit more centralized. This year we have gone north of Toronto to make it easier to get to for those traveling the 401 coming in from the east or west. Anyone coming out of Toronto will be against the flow of rush hour.

The 12-hole format was well received last year and will be repeated at this year’s event.  More information will follow on sponsorship opportunities and registration.

Over the past four years, this event has helped fund the CU Succeed Youth Bursary which has awarded $286,000 to 191 students.

Shane Chipman Leader of the Year

PenFinancial Commercial Manager Shane Chipman was recognized with the Alan Marentette ‘Leader of the Year’ award at the annual CULA conference held in Niagara-On-The-Lake in September. Shane’s wife Terri was on hand for the presentation.

“Shane is a committed and hard-working member of the PenFinancial team who consistently demonstrates a high level of care for the membership and Credit Union. He truly leads by example, and is able to build and foster strong relationships both with the membership and his peers. Shane builds up those around him and is a great example of what it means to be a leader.” – Matt Price, Branch Manager, PenFinancial Credit Union

Recipients of the Alan Marentette Leader of the year Award demonstrate high standards of leadership within their Credit union, the Credit union system and their community. CULA’s mission statement, “To actively promote and work towards a strong and professional Credit Union system through education, communication and networking opportunities.”, the successful candidate is selected based on the contributions of the individual to serve those around them.

Along with the award, a $500 donation is made by CULA on their behalf to the Ontario Credit Union Foundation (for which we are very grateful).

Recognizing Dorothy Watson

If you have been in the credit union space in Ontario for any lenght of time, you likely know the name Dorothy Watson! Well Dorothy retired this past Friday after dedicating 37 years to the credit union sector, the last 30 of which was with Central 1.

It was by serendipitous chance for the credit union movement, that a temp agency placed Dorothy at Co-operative Trust Company of Canada (now Concentra) and lit up a career path leading change for the system.

Over the course of nearly four decades, Dorothy led change in the system from all angles including at the helm of Ottawa Women’s Credit Union as the General Manager before she was recruited to Credit Union Central of Ontario. After successfully overseeing several departments including Human Resources, Credit Union Training, and Marketing, Dorothy found a focus that would grow to fuel her drive for the duration of her career: fostering a service excellence culture. With Dorothy leading consultation with credit unions and managing this change journey across CUCO, they more than doubled member approval ratings in just two years.

Ever since, she elevated the member voice, sought to understand their diverse perspectives, and championed new collaborative opportunities for the system in a member relations role. Dorothy built a high level of trust with credit unions across Ontario. No matter the role or conversation, she was always guided by the cooperative principles and values that keep us all rooted and connected to a deeper purpose.

Dorothy has always so generously shared her insightful perspectives gathered through a career dedicated to furthering the impact and reach of the credit union movement.

To ensure the enduring impact that is Dorothy’s career legacy, Central 1 created a bursary fund in her name. The Dorothy Watson CYL Bursary fund supports the emerging leaders that are advancing the cooperative system. If you wish to make a contribution to this fund click on the link below.

Dorothy, the staff and Board of the Ontario Credit Union Foundation join others in Ontario in wishing you a fulfilling and well deserved retirement!

If you wish to donate by cheque, please make it payable to “Ontario Credit Union Foundation” (include on the memo line – Dorothy Watson CYL Bursary Fund) and mail to OCUF 418 Willis Drive, Oakville, ON L6L 4V4. To do an online donation, click on the “Donate” button below.


Oshawa Community Does It Right

Linda Treen, Administration Manager at Oshawa Community Credit Union does it up right in celebrating their three members who were recently announced as CU Succeed Youth Bursary award recipients.

Linda commented, “Our members are our family, and when we have good news we like to shout it from the tree tops. We thought it would be nice to have the bursary winners hold up signs saying thank you to OCUF. I know there are many sponsors and others who contribute to the bursary which is so appreciated by these students.”

Pictured below are Kaitlyn, Janae and Daniel who were all first time recipients of the CUSYB award.  Kaitlyn is starting at the University of Guelph, Janae is returning for her third year at the University of Ottawa and Daniel is also returning for his third year at McMaster University.

 We wish all three a great school year. We know Oshawa Community is cheering for you too!

Words of thanks 28th Classic

Two time CU Succeed Youth Bursary award recipient Ben Johnson spoke at the 28th Classic to let everyone know the impact the bursary has had on his educational pursuits. Ben has received awards in 2018 and 2019. Here are his words:

Ben Johnson

Hello everybody, my name is Ben Johnson, I am a student currently attending Brock University – I am studying Neuroscience. I am grateful to be awarded the CU Succeed Bursary last year. 

My background isn’t the most pleasant, but to sum it up I had to leave home at the age of 16 because of abuse, and moved in a youth shelter. But due to my circumstances, i was determined to build myself a better life where I could be successful and contribute to society. I didn’t drop out of school, but rather continued studying hard and ended up graduating with a 93% average. Coming from a shelter was not a pleasant experience, I had to deal with the stigma and over come barriers. The only way I was going to succeed was to find a job while attending school to support myself – this meant sacrificing study time to take shifts at work, and settling for outdated textbooks since I couldn’t afford the newest edition. I also had to rely on hefty student loans to supplement tuition fees. One day, I heard about the CU Succeed Bursary, and with a hopeful mindset, completed the application. After many weeks of building anxiety, I got an email with fantastic news. Not only did the Ontario Credit Union Foundation raise enough funds to support dozens of Ontario students, but I was selected as one of them! Looking back, I sincerely and profoundly appreciate the commitment you are all making here today. Every dollar furthers the ability for students like me to build a brighter future. I now have a chance to be successful and look forward to the opportunities I will have down the road to give back to my community. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I will now be able to fulfill my dreams of attending university and would like to continue my education obtaining a Master’s Degree and eventually a PhD. I strongly believe in ‘Paying it Forward’ and one day I will be able to help someone like myself to achieve their dreams just as you helped me. 

As for now, I give back and volunteer in my community and participate in extra-curricular activities at my university. At Brock I participate in student government, and am the Chair of the Governance Committee. I won an award for ‘Student Council Member of the Year’ due to my contributions. I also won the ‘Community Volunteer Award’ from Brock University’s Student Life and Community Engagement for my contributions to Brock Cares Days where I volunteer in the community with local agencies. 

Thank you again for your support. Your generosity shows that you believe in the success of the next generation of future leaders.

Thank you,

Ben Johnson

Student Speech at Fundraiser 2019

Three time CUSYB recipient Brielle helped out at our recent fundraiser throughout the day. We asked her to tell the audience of participants, supporters and sponsors what being awared the CU Succeed Youth Bursary meant to her. Brielle received an award in 2017, 2018 and 2019! Here is her speech.


Hello everyone, my name is Brielle Kaminsky. I’m a student at Brock University and I was fortunate enough to be a recipient of the CU Succeed Bursary last year. Growing up with a single mom, there were many barriers I faced, such as financial barriers, but because of her encouragement I have always valued community and education. She instilled in me to help others in need through volunteerism. I have volunteered at places like the local YMCA and Habitat for Humanity. Recently I have been helping organize charity events at Brock as well. I also teach free music lessons to children who may not normally be able to take or afford lessons. I have always been a hardworking student, but had worries about financing a university education. Thankfully, the Ontario Credit Union Foundation offers the CU Succeed Bursary. Because of your generous contributions, OCUF has been able to provide me financial assistance so that obtaining a university degree is becoming a reality. Thank you very much for spending your time today investing in the success of students like myself. I know that your fundraising today will be life-changing for many students, as I have experienced myself, and for that I am truly grateful. Thank you for your time.