2018 Bursary Recipients



The OCUF Board is very pleased to announce the 38 outstanding community engaged post-secondary students for 2018.  Bursary awards totalled $75,000 and ranged from $1,000 to $3,000.

Students have to demonstrate their commitment and involvement within their community as well as financial need. This year four reviewers adjudicated applications to select those appearing to the left.  Liisa Woolley (Your Neighbourhood) commented “every year the decisions become more difficult as there are so any deserving applications.” Fellow reviewer Kevin Connolly (Comtech Fire) stated “it is great to see the many different credit unions represented with bursaries being distributed all across Ontario.” A total of eighteen credit unions were represented by award recipients in 2018.

We had many notes of thanks from the students for our supporters and sponsors. A bursary recipient for the third time,  Julia D. wrote “The CU succeed bursary has given me the freedom to focus on my education in order to achieve my academic and future career goals. I am forever thankful to those who support this bursary, as your support makes a big difference and allows students more flexibility during the school year.”

To date OCUF, through the amazing support of credit unions campaigns, supporters and sponsors at our annual golf tournament fundraiser, have provided $186,000 in bursaries to 116 students.


Alterna Milestone Magic

We asked Alterna Savings what contributed to their fantastic CU Succeed Youth Bursary campaign where they raised and contributed an incredible $11,000!  Their marketing team shared some insights.

For the CU Succeed bursary all our GTA branches got involved and raised a HUGE amount and we couldn’t be prouder. This was a cause that was very close to the hearts of our executive team because not being able to afford climbing tuition should never be a reason that a young person isn’t able to learn, grow and be involved with a community of like-minded individuals. This is already a cause our staff are dedicated to annually, so we kicked it up a notch this year by incentivizing the fundraiser to really rally the troops. The main way our branches fund raised was by participating in community events and engaging our personal and non-personal members in branch.

There were many initiatives and we wanted to highlight a few to share ideas others might want to do in their campaign next year. Bramalea branch came together and created a great basket of goodies for Father’s Day. This simple and timely idea generated a very impressive $710 for as they put it, “a great cause!”

Say “Cheese!” is what we think the photographer might have said when they took the photos on the right. Alterna’s Lakeshore branch and Marketing team decided to put on their chefs’ hats for the Bursary campaign. The branch took over the great Grilled Cheese Challenge hosted by the Lakeshore BIA and was able to raise over $700 for the CU Succeed Youth Bursary Fund. We have no idea how many sandwiches were flipped but it had to be a lot!

In celebration of their 110th birthday, the team at the Ottawa and Toronto head office came together to raise funds for the CU Succeed Youth Bursary with the exclusive Alterna 110 specialty baseball t-shirt. We are told they are softer than your favourite blanket, comfier than your go-to pyjamas and more stylin’ than any company-branded shirt you’ve ever seen. “By sharing the proceeds of the t-shirts to such a great cause, these shirts are extra special for us all at Alterna.”

Frugina Ball, Region Head, Member Experience, GTA, commented “We are very grateful to have such a caring staff and supportive member base. This year we set the bar high at $11,000 for our 110th birthday on September 3rd this year and are ecstatic we reached it!”

What an achievement! Thank you Alterna, you have proven Together – We are stronger!

PS – Happy 110th! That is an amazing milestone.

Luminus Delivers!

Luminus Financial may not be the biggest Credit Union in Ontario but you may not want to get in the ring with them! Pound for pound they more than pull their weight.

In the recent CU Succeed Youth Bursary Campaign (and for the second year running) the Luminus team went to work. Led by Member Relations Manager Joanna Cheng, a number of people from various departments including Karen Oliveira, Daniel Marnicki and Lesya Gotsko, came together to drive the campaign. Joanna commented “I knew the success of the campaign would come from increased team work so I chose a small group of champions from various departments to represent the Youth Bursary.”

The group initially met and brainstormed specifically on FUN and simple ways to fund raise funds. Ideas included a 50/50 draw, pasty sale, book sale and initiating donation fees to work from home or wear jeans to the office. Key to their success was to share their campaign initiative with family and friends and committed to completing a mini work walk-a-thon to ramp up donations. Luminus shared their fund raising story and CU Succeed Youth Bursary donation link over email and acquired additional donations, as a result.

The Luminus group worked as a team and focused on the “fun” in fundraising! Collectively they raised $1,033 which will assist post-secondary credit union members with their studies in 2019.  Kudos to all who made this happen.

Wow what an outcome!

Sponsors and participants truly out did themselves this year in support of the 27th Golf Classic fundraiser. A total of $88,015 was raised for the CU Succeed Youth Bursary program in 2019. A donation after the tournament (and adjustments to the final bill) pushed our numbers even higher than we had previously announced.

Chef John Cirillo instructing

We had a full house. There were 144 registered golfers and 16 registered to attend the cooking class at Cirillo’s Culinary Academy. Those cooking learned how to properly sharpen knives and filet a Cornish game hen. They they set about preparing a meal. The created fresh Thai salad rolls, mushroom risotto, stuffed chicken breast with quinoa, corn & spinach, gratin potatoes and seasonal vegetables, and for dessert – stick toffee pudding. Are you hungry yet?! As the cooks returned to the golf course for dinner, the meals they prepared were donated to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul – Elisa House (who sent an email being most appreciative).  View the cooking photos.

Get this cart off of me!

Markland Wood Golf Course did a great job hosting the golfers under beautiful sunny skies and a temperature of 22 Celsius. Our golfers are not in a rush to get around the course even with the scramble format. Lots of networking and having fun. Being a private club, we are not able to start the shotgun start before 1 pm. Happy Hour began at 6:15, but even with five and a quarter hours, some of our golfers had yet to finish 18 holes. Something we will be looking at for 2019. And yes, there will be a second beverage cart next year!

Michaella – Guest Speaker

Thank you to our volunteer, guest speaker and 2107 CU Succeed Youth Bursary recipient, Michaella Pilon. Michaella gave a passionate speech detailing the impact the bursary had on her school year expenses, and the challenges of her father’s passing last year. Not many dry eyes in the room. Michaella brought thanks to all involved in this fundraiser on behalf of past bursary recipients, and those yet to be awarded.

Donna Sheppard from Tandia won $540 in the 50/50 draw. Justin Wendland from D+H won the putting contest. Bernie Muise, new to Satori Consulting won closest to the line men, and Mary Benincasa from PACE was closest to the line on the women’s side. Closest to the hole winners were Sara Carnegie from Central 1 and Reg Sonnenberg from PenFinancial Board. While not an “official contest” this year we did have to recognize Kathy Clark, Sandy Alward, Donna Sheppard and Joe Agro from Tandia as the best dressed team.  The Most Honest Team was awarded to Vijay Chandak, Alex Golitsis, and Kevin Morton. While not a prize category, low gross of 62 went to Peter Godec, Scott Cochrane, Mohamed-Ali Kessentini, and Marco Antico. View the golf photos.

Mark your calendar for Monday June 10, 2019 when we get to do it all again.

Sincerely, a big THANK YOU to our Title Sponsor Fiserv, our Palladium Sponsor CUMIS, and all our Platinum, Gold, and Silver sponsors, as well as our hole sponsors and everyone who participated. See the full sponsor list here.

Momentum Rocks It

Momentum Credit Union turns to denim, Jays and jewellery to raise funds for the CU Succeed Youth Bursary.

Things kicked of with an email blast, followed by ongoing social media and branch communications. An in-branch raffle was held over 2 weeks for Blue Jays tickets, a Pandora bracelet and a gift card prize pack (valued at $250). Staff could pay $1 per day to wear jeans to work over the 2-week period. The branch that raised the most between both initiatives were awarded lunch of their choice on Momentum.

Lysandre Dunsmuir, Manager of Marketing and Communications said “Everyone had a great time supporting the campaign, although it was tough to give up our jeans after 2 weeks!”

Their efforts paid off, raising a very impressive $750 which will support bursaries for post-secondary students pursuing academic, vocational or technical education.  Congratulations to CEO Malcolm Stoffman and his team who embraced the campaign and helped raise awareness of the bursary with Momentum members.

CYL 2018 Bursary

The bursary, created by the Ontario Credit Union Foundation in Guido Chezzi’s name, is
open to youth fourteen to fifteen years old who are interested in starting Cooperative Young Leaders as junior participants. It is offered to teens wishing to attend the program who are not already partnered with a co-op or credit union, with the goal of sending a new participant each year.

This year the bursary is going to Isaac, a young student from Guelph. Isaac is an avid soccer player and volunteers in is community and at school. Isaac said “I think going to CYL will help me expand my abilities even more and become an even better leader who can help more in all the activities I am involved in.”

A little about Guido Chezzi. With an illustrious career spanning an incredible fifty-plus years working within the credit union sector, which includes assisting credit unions in Africa, thirty-five years as a volunteer fireman and supporting community churches, Chezzi’s energy and optimism for the sector has never wavered. Amongst his many accomplishments, he has been a passionate champion of the CYL program and has devoted many years as a facilitator, fundraiser, and guest speaker. Chezzi’s impressive commitment to youth and the program was recognized in 2002 with a Co-operative Spirit Award for Youth Mentorship.

Copperfin Receives Outstanding Corporate Achievement Award

Copperfin Credit Union was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Corporate Achievement Award at the Ontario Credit Union Foundation’s Annual General Meeting.

This award is presented annually by the Ontario Credit Union Foundation (OCUF) to a credit union (or company within the co-operative financial system) in recognition of their contribution to the community.

The award recognizes those whose investment in the community is above normal expectations in one or more of the following ways: 1) a single project or program supported financially or otherwise during the preceding year, 2) an ongoing pattern or record of community investment continuing over an extended period of time through to and including the preceding calendar year, or 3) a major new activity, program or commitment started during the preceding calendar year.

“We are delighted to recognize Copperfin Credit Union for the tremendous impact they make in their community” commented Dan Coldwell, Board Chair, OCUF. “Every year we receive strong submissions and adjudication process is never an easy one. It shows the commitment credit unions have to their members and community involvement right across Ontario” added Executive Director Clayton Shold.

Allison Kasper, SVP Business & Social Impact, accepted the award on behalf of Copperfin Credit Union and shared a video highlighting a major contribution to Lake of the Woods District Hospital Foundation to purchase a new CT scanner for the hospital. Their contribution kick-started a successful campaign. Ms. Kasper commented, “I accept this award on behalf of everyone at Copperfin who work so hard to make such a difference in our communities. We very much appreciate the recognition.”

OCUF Board Director Scott Windsor (left) presenting the award to SVP Business & Social Impact Allison Kasper and CEO Dennis Alvestad.

Welcome Education Credit Union

We are delighted to announce Education Credit Union has become a member of the Ontario Credit Union Foundation.

Education Credit Union provides full financial services, including a comprehensive Wealth Management program to over 9,500 members who share the principles of democratic ownership. Their roots can be traced to two local teachers, Ray Eaton and Gord Gamey, who believed in the long-standing principles held by credit unions: Personal service and responsiveness to members’ needs. Through their commitment, the Education Credit Union was formed in 1972.

Education Credit Union CEO, Gary Renouf, commented, “With our strong association with educators, we very much encourage and want to support post-secondary education and love the fact OCUF has made a big commitment in this regard with the CU Succeed Youth Bursary. Furthermore, we are pleased to join so many of our peer credit unions in helping to increase the visibility of credit unions in Ontario.”

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised

Today I set about tracking down one of our 2017 CU Succeed Youth Bursary award recipients. A few weeks back I sent out an email to all recipients asking for video submissions on how their bursary has helped them this school year. Only one of the emails bounced back. I thought that wasn’t bad, I would have expected more.

While reviewing the material being sent off to our auditor this morning, part of the process is to identify any uncleared cheques as of year-end. Aside from a couple issued late in December, there was one from back in August. Turns out it was issued to the same individual that had the undeliverable email address. Worried this person hadn’t received the cheque (like who isn’t going to cash it?) I set about to track her down.

Long story short, I ended up speaking with her Mom. Indeed, she had received the cheque, but didn’t want to cash it so it wasn’t a temptation. Her plan was to use her OSAP loan to cover first term at Brock and use her $2,500 bursary to pay her second term. Her Mom confirmed she recently deposited the cheque and went on to say she was really doing well at university and has become involved with the student association and some clubs.

Turns out, there was another reason for delaying depositing the cheque. She was looking for an institution to open an account.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise, when we distributed the cheques last year, in our letter we strongly invite students to check out local credit unions and provide a link to find one near them. This student went in with her Mom to a FirstOntario branch in St. Catharines and opened an account. Mom went on and on about the excellent service and mentioned she was considering switching to FirstOntario as well.

After getting an updated email address and asking Mom to remind her daughter the CU Succeed Youth Bursary deadline is June 30th, I hung up the phone. I sat thinking, what a great outcome. Here I assumed the obvious, cheque lost in the mail and the applicant didn’t even know, as we notify by mail. Not the case. What I learned was this very deserving student was rocking her classes, continuing with her community engagement, and she and her Mom were very grateful for the bursary.

Those making the CU Succeed Youth Bursary possible, our member credit unions, supporters and sponsors of our June golf fundraiser, should all feel good! Our efforts are making a difference!

Welcome Oshawa Community Credit Union

Ontario Credit Union Foundation is pleased to welcome Oshawa Community Credit Union as our newest member.

“We are excited to return as an OCUF member. The CU Succeed Youth Bursary benefiting member credit unions and their families was a big draw. We look forward to renewing our partnership” commented John Remillard, Acting CEO.

Oshawa Community Credit Union has been serving people in the Durham Region and surrounding areas for over 75 years.

Since their inception in 1939, they have grown from a small credit union to now having assets more than $95 million. The membership has grown by merging with local industrial credit unions, servicing the employees at the local hospitals, employees of the Region of Durham, employees at the local school boards and employees at the City of Oshawa. They serve a membership of over 3,500.