Credit unions welcome Latinos with open arms

Mirror staff

A leader of the Federal Way-based Washington Credit Union League used a statewide Spanish-language broadcast to promote credit unions to Latinos.

RoxAnne Kruger-Monahan, the league’s senior vice president, and Linda Kleppe-Olson, president of White River Credit Union, were featured earlier this month by the former attorney general of Mexico, Consul Jorge Madrazo-Cuellar, on his weekly radio address in Spanish.

Madrazo, who encouraged Latinos to join credit unions, uses the broadcasts to promote outreach as the highest-ranking Mexican diplomat in Washington. He was appointed Mexico’s consul in Seattle by President Vicente Fox in 2001.

Mexico’s consuls are advocates for the interests of Mexican citizens in the U.S.

Madrazo told Latino listeners that credit unions protect the interests of Mexican citizens and the general public in Washington. “Since they are supporting us, we should support them,” he said.

Olson and Kruger-Monahan explained that non-profit credit unions seek to economically empower individuals.

Olson said the broadcast generated “credibility” in credit unions among prospective Latino customers.

“Trust is extremely important to the Latino community. This helped bridge the potential trust barriers,” she said.

Kruger-Monahan answered questions from listeners who wanted to know everything from how to join a credit union to how to finance a car. Their information was translated for Spanish-speaking listeners.

White River, which is in Enumclaw, is one of two credit unions in the state accepting matricular identification in conjunction with offering Spanish-speaking staff and bilingual brochures.

“Believe it or not, we had 10 phone calls from the time” the credit union’s telephone number was given out on-air, said Olson. “Three families have actually driven from as far away as Seattle to open accounts.”

Many Latinos “don’t know that services like credit unions’ low-cost alternative to wire transfer is available to save them money and protect them, unless we tell them and tell them how to reach us,” said Jenaro Castaneda, a representative of the Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprises.

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