Co-operative Identity Award

Michelle Christmann, Community Relations Officer at Quinte First Credit Union received the coveted Co-operative Identity Award at the 2017 Provincial Co-op Conference hosted at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Toronto September 28th. The award was presented by Claude Gauthier from Growmark Inc.

Quinte First Credit Union President & CEO Carrie Gregoire said, “I have been in the credit union system for eleven years. Until our recent merger, I can honestly say I have never met anyone who is as passionate, energetic and driven about the co-operative system as Michelle.”  She added, “Her enthusiasm is contagious.”

Clayton Shold, Executive Director of Ontario Credit Union Foundation, was on this years selection panel exclaimed “Michelle is clearly someone who exemplifies the co-operative spirit and takes her enthusiasm in to work, and in to her community every day!”

Michelle’s list of achievements is long, she is a certified Each One Teach One (EOTO) instructor and has delivered presentations to elementary and secondary schools, as well as a local college. Michelle partnered with Centre Hastings Secondary School in Madoc to open one of the first student-run co-operatives in Ontario. She applied for, and was successful in obtaining a $10,000 Community Empowerment grant from Concentra which will be partner with four new schools next year to start four new student-run co-operatives. Michelle has worked with different co-operatives to showcase them and enhance community offerings. She introduced a brand ambassador program at Quinte First so all staff can speak to the benefits of co-operatives. The next question you might ask is “who has a cloning machine we can walk Michelle through a few times?!”

Congratulations Michelle, a very deserving honour!

2017 marks the 17th year of the Co-operative Spirit Awards, which recognizes both individuals and organizations, that are making a significant impact on the Ontario co-operative movement. As of October 2015, 122 Spirit Awards have been awarded.

Jessica Plenzick is 2017 Leadership Niagara Bursary Recipient

In 2014, the Ontario Credit Union Foundation opened the Leadership Niagara Community Investment Fund and annually awards a full tuition bursary to a deserving Niagara credit union leader. This year will mark Leadership Niagara’s tenth year graduating 317 community leaders and the completion of 64 community projects. The program has been the highest enrolled Community Leadership program in Canada since 2012.

OCUF is pleased to announce this year’s bursary recipient is Jessica Plenzick from FirstOntario Credit Union. Jessica is the Member Experience Manager at the Scott Street branch in St. Catharines.

She has a strong background in the financial services industry and skills in banking, coaching, sales and retail.  Jessica demonstrates a passion for helping others and as a professional, she is focused on empowering her team to uncover financial solutions for their membership. In her current role, she oversees a team of seven who strive to provide the best Member experience, guidance and support for their Members.

She is truly passionate about her work and always eager to connect with others. Jessica told us “While I enjoy all aspects of my job, the best part is working with my team and our Members to learn and understand their financial goals and work together to achieve them. As we go through this collaborative process, we understand our membership a little bit more. I strive on continuous learning to empower and teach others how to bring out the best in themselves.” 

Jessica provides leadership throughout her community by being a part of several initiatives at FirstOntario, including their volunteer Blue Wave program and student nutrition program. She is also involved with Port Weller Public School where she helps serve students breakfast. Jessica also spends time assisting new leaders by being a volunteer Dale Carnegie coach alongside the Instructor. 

Jessica we wish you well over the next ten months on the Leadership Niagara program. You will then join a growing network dedicated to ensuring a stronger, healthier, more vibrant Niagara.

Meet 2017 CU Succeed Youth Bursary Recipients

And the CU Succeed Youth Bursary recipients are…

The 2017 CU Succeed Youth Bursary awards have been distribute to this year’s successful applicants.

We present a quick snap shot to the left of many of this year’s recipients. What an amazing group of young adults they are.  The future is bright!

The selection process was demanding as we adjudicated the submitted applications. Two key considerations were financial need and engagement in the community. We often hear of the negative news involving youth in the media, but it is clear there is no shortage of talented, smart, caring and enthusiastic individuals out there who are keen to set the world on fire!

As these students start to think about the new school year, because of the efforts of our many supporters, sponsors and credit union members, they will have their financial burden eased as they apply their bursary which ranged from $1,000 to $2,500.

Thank you to our many sponsors and supporters. Congratulations to this year’s CU Succeed Youth Bursary recipients!

The results are in!

Finally after a few weeks of chasing down invoices we are able to announce the results of this year’s fundraising efforts.

We had two events this year. The CU Succeed Youth Bursary campaign ran for the first time with five credit unions contributing; Alterna, Comtech Fire, Luminus, Your Neighbourhood, and Your Credit Union.  We were assisted by CUMark, credit union marketing experts, who created content and media support for the campaign. We learned a lot from feedback from participating credit unions and others we spoke to. A key learning is to provide much more lead time for the 2018 campaign.

Shelley, Sandra, Kelly & Michelle from CUMIS

The second event was our traditional 26th Golf Classic which attracted 130 golfers and 6 painters to Lionhead Golf & Country Club in Brampton on June 12th. It was almost too hot a day, but there weren’t many complaints about the weather. CUMIS was our title sponsor again this year which we were delighted to have their support not only financially, but the return of the CUMIS volunteers to manage the registration was great! Please visit our fundraiser page to see all of our sponsors.  The event featured breakfast, lunch and a buffet dinner, along with a happy hour to network with sponsors and peers. The raffle prize table this year featured awesome prizes thanks to the generosity of many of our sponsors and guests. A big thank you to all of you who participated or contributed.

These two events combined to record a total raised of $74,900 for the CU Succeed Youth Bursary program. We are so grateful to everyone who made this achievement possible. To our golfers, painters, sponsors, supporters, and all the branch staff who participated in this year’s campaign, we say thank you! Your efforts, generosity and contributions will allow us to grow the CU Succeed Youth Bursary program, benefiting deserving post-secondary youth in Ontario.


Bursary Students Thank OCUF

Two 2016 bursary award recipients came out to help with the 26th Golf Classic. Elgin and Naomi are both credit union members who are active in giving back to their communities. Arriving at Lionhead Golf & Country club at 7 am they immediately jumped in to help set up the registration area and arrange the drinks in to ice coolers. Once the tournament got going, they jumped in a golf cart and went around the course offering Gatorade, water or pop to thirsty golfers. With 35C weather it was important to keep hydrated.

Once the golf wound up,  Elgin and Naomi sold raffle tickets during Happy Hour. They did a great job. During dinner both got up to speak about their educational plans, appreciation for the bursary awards, and the impact it had. Take a few minutes to listen to their speeches in the video to the left.

You can read Elgin’s here. Naomi’s story can be found here.

Golf & Paint Photos are Up

DUCA foursome trying anything to score!

Photos from the 26th Golf Classic are now up!

It was an incredible day. Good weather, good cause, good people!

Net proceeds from the day will benefit the CU Succeed Bursary which helps deserving post-secondary Ontario

Shelley, Sandra, Kelly & Michelle from CUMIS

students who are active in their communities. We are anxious to share the result with you once we have our final expenses from the venue. Speaking of which, Lionhead Golf & Country Club did a tremendous job hosting us for the day.

We can’t say enough, how much we appreciate all the golfers, painters, and sponsors who came out to support the event. A special shout out to the volunteers from our title sponsor CUMIS who ran our registration table. Cheryl, Kelly, Sandra and Shelley did a great job! We also very much appreciated the assistance of Erin and Naomi, two of our 2016 bursary award recipients who helped throughout the day.

Event photos of golfers and painters are now uploaded on to the OCUF website. Click here to view photos.

HMECU Opens New Branch

Healthcare and Municipal Employees’ Credit Union (HMECU) opened a new office on May 3rd. The Juravinski Branch is located within the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre in Hamilton. It is conveniently located just steps away from the Atrium Cafe.

OCUF ED Clayton Shold congratulates Doug Mann, President & CEO, HMECU

Cake was delicious!

The ribbon cutting ceremony was very well attended, with hospital staff, HMECU members and staff, and special guests present.  HMECU President & CEO Doug Mann commented “We are very pleased to make HMECU even more accessible to members by opening an office within Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. We hope this added convenience will make our credit union accessible to others who work at the hospital.”

Refreshments were served and a long line up quickly formed with attendees anxious to have a coffee and pastries or cake. Guests also received a “goody bag” of items from HMECU.

Rumours that the special cake was baked by Doug Mann proved to be false. Staff confirmed, “of the many talents possessed by our leader, baking a cake is most definitely not one of those competencies!”

Photo credit: Jacob Lethbridge, HMECU

6 Ontario Credit Unions Join Together to Help Send Students to Higher Education

TORONTO, ON – 6 Ontario credit unions have just joined ranks to make a positive difference for Ontario youth by raising funds for the CU Succeed Youth Bursary program. From April 24 to June 3, Luminus Financial, PACE Credit Union, Comtech Fire Credit Union, Your Credit Union, Your Neighbourhood Credit Union, and Community First Credit Union will be helping to raise money through staff and member fundraisers across Ontario.

From now until June 3, Ontario credit union staff will be raising funds for the CU Succeed program, which gives students in financial need the opportunity to become the doctors, teachers, and technicians of tomorrow by providing them with grants to pursue educational or vocational training. Credit union members will also be invited to take part during a special “Giving Week” from May 28-June 3.

“We’re excited to take part in this great cause,” says George De La Rosa, CEO of Luminus Financial. “Young people are the future of our community, so it’s important for us to make sure they have the opportunity to go to school and develop the skills they need to become who they want to be.”

This year’s fundraising goal is to exceed the 51 bursaries granted to Ontario students last year. For credit unions who haven’t yet joined the fundraising efforts, there’s still time to participate. The Ontario Credit Union Foundation invites credit unions and the public to learn more at

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About the Ontario Credit Union Foundation
The Ontario Credit Union Foundation (OCUF) was registered in 1979. Over the past 37 years, we have supported credit unions and co-operatives with their philanthropic giving in communities across Ontario. OCUF receives oversight and strategic direction from a nine-member volunteer Board of Directors elected by members of the Foundation at the annual general meeting. The Foundation is similar to private and local community foundations in that it administers funds created by donors for specific charitable purposes. In addition to the 45 funds we manage, we maintain a general fund we use to support our main charitable activity, the support of youth education and leadership.

Ontario Credit Unions and Staff Invited to Take Part in 2017 CU Succeed Youth Bursary Fundraiser

Calling all Ontario credit unions and staff! The Ontario Credit Union Foundation is excited to invite all local credit unions and staff to take part in the 2017 CU Succeed Youth Bursary Fundraiser and contest.

Every year, over 30% of Ontario youth choose not to pursue higher education because of financial barriers.

We think everyone deserves a chance to go to school, so in 2016 the Ontario Credit Union Foundation gave 51 students bursary funds to help pursue their dreams. This year with your support we want to help even more!

Let’s do more, together! We are looking for your help as we join with credit unions and their staff across Ontario in support of a single cause: to help more Ontario youth pursue their dreams of a better career through educational or vocational training. Will you join us?

Throughout the month of May, Ontario credit union staff and members are invited to help support the doctors, teachers, and technicians of tomorrow by raising funds to provide education grants to students in financial need. Best of all? For your help you could win a raft of amazing prizes!

To learn more or to sign up to help raise funds, visit or the campaign details page at

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About the Ontario Credit Union Foundation
The Ontario Credit Union Foundation (OCUF) was registered in 1979. Over the past 37 years we have supported credit unions and co-operatives with their philanthropic giving in communities across Ontario. OCUF receives oversight and strategic direction from a nine-member volunteer Board of Directors elected by members of the Foundation at the annual general meeting. The Foundation is similar to private and local community foundations in that it administers funds created by donors for specific charitable purposes. In addition to the 45 funds we manage, we maintain a general fund we use to support our main charitable activity, the support of youth education and leadership.

Two New Board Members

OCUF is pleased to announce the appointment of two new Board members.

At the Annual General Meeting, members voted to accept the recommendation of the nomination committee adding Frugina Ball from Alterna Savings and Kevin Connolly from Comtech Fire to the Board of Directors. Board Chair, Dan Coldwell commented “We are delighted to have Frugina and Kevin join our board. They each bring extensive knowledge and experience in the credit union sector which will help us ensure we remain responsive to our members.”

Frugina Ball

Frugina Ball

Frugina has over 25 years of Financial Services industry experience with the majority spent in senior leadership roles at both Alterna and a national Canadian Bank. These included the areas of Commercial Banking, Corporate Office, Wealth Private Client Services and Retail Distribution.

Specifically at Alterna, as part of her mandate, Frugina leads the growth and profitably of the branch portfolio; provides guidance and coaching to deliver superior member and customer experience in all channels; contributes to business development activities; overall leadership to the Retail branch teams in GTA, Wealth Management, Contact Centre and Affinity team oversight.

In her spare time, Frugina is a passionate champion of the benefits of a post secondary education. She has been an active volunteer in her high school, Toronto French School, as well as with Enactus Canada and her Church youth program. Frugina has an Honours Bachelor of Science from University of Toronto and obtained an MBA from Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ontario. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their daughter.

Kevin Connolly

Kevin Connolly

Kevin is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Comtech Fire Credit Union. In addition, he oversees the business development/partnerships area for the Credit Union. He has over 25 years of experience in the financial services business, the last eight in the Credit Union system. Previously Kevin held the positions of Vice President, Sales & Service with Northern Credit Union and Chief Executive Officer of Fire Services Credit Union prior to its merger with Comtech. Kevin has served on the Board of the Canadian Fire Fighters Museum in Port Hope, and is the lead organizer of Comtech Fire’s Annual Charity Golf Tournament that has raised over $60,000 for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Kevin lives in Oakville with his wife Marisa, daughter Cassandra and Great Dane Luna.