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CU4Kids Community Engagement Center at CHOC

Representatives from various Southern California credit unions as well as CU Direct joined officials from Children’s Hospital Orange County (CHOC) and its foundation to celebrate the grand opening of the hospital’s Credit Union for Kids Community Engagement Center last week.

At the May 23 event attendees—including those from American First CU, Credit Union of Southern California, Eagle Community CU, Financial Partners CU, Kinecta FCU, Orange County’s CU, SchoolsFirst FCU, San Diego County CU, Southland CU, and Wescom CU—got their first look at the new center located in the CHOC Children’s Foundation offices. The center can accommodate up to 110 people for lectures, meetings, training programs, and receptions. Its state-of-the art audiovisual and conferencing technologies were on display with photos of past credit union fundraising efforts.

CHOC Engagement CenterRepresentatives from credit unions and Children’s Hospital Orange County in front of the nameplate for the new Credit Unions for Kids Community Engagement Center. Top Row (L-R): Dana Schuller (SchoolsFirst FCU), Sandra Ramirez (Kinecta FCU), Barbara Hernandez (American First CU), Evelyn Shigeta (Southland CU), Alissa Guerrero (Credit Union of Southern California), Eleanor Heng (Orange County’s CU), Jill Erps (Financial Partners CU), Doug Corbin (CDO, CHOC Children’s Foundation), Davis Jabszenski (Wescom CU), Matt Gerlach (COO, CHOC). Bottom Row (L-R): Bob Child (CU Direct), Jose Lara (SchoolsFirst FCU), Marc Bancroft (San Diego County CU), Kerry Schiller (CFO, CHOC), Dr. Maria Minon (CMO, CHOC).

The center—named in recognition of Credit Union for Kids Orange County’s pledge to raise $5 million in five years for CHOC as well as its history of support—is designed to promote collaboration among community leaders, doctors, staff, donors, and volunteers.

“With a multi-functional design and latest technology, this center is a key component of our philanthropic outreach here at CHOC,” said CHOC Foundation Vice President and Chief Development Officer Doug Corbin at the grand opening event. “Because of your generosity, we are able to strategically engage more people to achieve our philanthropic goals than ever before. And through this center, that bears your name, the CHOC Foundation is empowered to achieve unprecedented levels of success going forward.”

The Credit Unions for Kids Community Engagement Center’s grand opening was held May 23 in Orange County. Attendees included representatives from various credit unions as well as CU Direct President and CEO Tony Boutelle.

Corbin thanked credit unions for their support and commitment to the community’s children, the hospital, and for being instrumental in helping CHOC become a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital (CMN) in 2006. Credit Union for Kids Orange County is now the third-highest fundraising market out of 170 CMN hospitals in North America, with local credit unions raising a little under $5 million in support of CHOC, he said.

“That’s really an amazing statistic, and you and your teams are to be congratulated for all the hard work that you’ve done,” Corbin added.

Via video, CMN President and CEO John Lauck commended the Credit Unions for Kids Orange County for its $5-million pledge and for its commitment to help CMN hospitals.

“Thank you for everything you are doing; it’s helping so many kids,” Lauck added.

CHOC Executive Vice President and COO Matt Gerlach also thanked credit unions for their support.

“We’re really excited about our new community engagement center; it really is an opportunity for us to bring folks together to come here with a common cause, which is really to make the lives of these kids so much better. And the work that you’ve done to help make this center a reality is really appreciated,” he said.

Gerlach pointed out three recent additions to CHOC. When the hospital learned there were no mental health beds for children under age 12, it opened a mental health center with 18 beds that is now full and with a waiting list. It now has a comprehensive mental health program, featuring outpatient services and screening tools. CHOC also recently opened a new neonatal intensive care unit with 37 beds in 36 rooms (one room has twin beds) that allows families to move in and be with their children in privacy. And in early 2020, it will launch an autism program with leading-edge treatment services.

“Each of these areas are providing life-saving support, and it’s really our great mission to provide services particularly to those patients that have been historically underserved,” Gerlach said. “You are partners with us on all of this and we can’t thank you enough for your support.”

SchoolsFirst FCU COO and Chair of Credit Unions for Kids Advisory Committee in Orange County Jose Lara said in 2018 the committee had made a commitment on behalf of the credit unions it represents to raise $5 million and that it is going to do all it can to meet that pledge.

Last year, credit unions raised $800,000, a 16-percent increase over 2017, Lara said. The majority of the money was raised through the annual CU for Kids Wine Auction and other types of fundraising efforts. In 2018, credit unions participating in the annual CHOC Walk (which takes place in August at Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks) raised $320,000.

“We are deeply proud to partner with CHOC,” Lara said. “You’ve heard the amazing work that’s being done by this hospital; the way that they help people. It’s just amazing work that’s being done at this hospital. CHOC has had an incredible impact on the health and well-being of our communities’ children. We are really proud to be able to help and support those causes.”