Lin and Joel Ward celebrating their mortgage payoff

A Big Pay Off at Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union Bemidji Branch

Joel Ward, a member of the Bemidji Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union branch, recently paid off his mortgage.

Ward and his wife, Lin, signed for the purchase of their home with State Capital Credit Union more than 31 years ago. At that time, the couple had a balance of $80,000+ to pay off and were down to the remaining balance of $4,000+. On July 3, Ward called Member Advisor Michelle Young at the Bemidji branch to set up an appointment to come in and payoff his first mortgage on July 5th.

Why July 5th?

As Ward puts it, “it would be a cosmic day,” as 31 years ago, on July 5th, Ward and his wife signed for the purchase of their home with State Capital Credit Union. It was a day to remember!

In 2016, Ward says he made the decision that he wanted to get the mortgage paid off and didn’t want to use up savings to accomplish the goal. He says both he and his wife did enjoy themselves by traveling, but still focused on the goal of paying off the balance in 3.5 years.

And, they did it! Here comes the celebration! Ward says he’s appreciative of the thoughtfulness and generosity of Affinity Plus for planning a wonderful celebration.

“Affinity Plus has been very good to us, and I have been a member since 1975,” said Ward. “On my payoff day, we were played a congratulations video from Dave Larson, fired confetti all over the office and even got a gift card to a local pub. It was so much fun! Thank you everyone at Affinity Plus, my friends.”

“I was so excited to celebrate with Joel and Lin on their mortgage payoff,” said Young. “I know how dedicated Joel had been in getting the mortgage paid off over the last few years. It was fun to see and be a part of them accomplishing this goal they had set.”


Rochester branch employees with Matt Lynch of Channel One

Giving Back: Affinity Plus in Rochester Supports Flood Recovery Efforts

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union is all about giving back to the community. Earlier this summer, the Affinity Plus Rochester branch stepped up to show support to its community, after local food bank partner, Channel One, experienced flooding that impacted its operations.

Channel One Regional Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, which alleviates hunger through innovative and efficient programs and partnerships that feed people and change lives. Channel One operates six programs to serve needs: a food bank, food shelf, mobile pantry, Backpack Program, Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors (NAPS), and Green Gardens Program. Channel One serves 14 counties across southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Heavy rains from the spring and summer minimally impacted the food bank facility, however, its vehicle fleet and freight trucks experienced varying degrees of damage that need to be repaired or replaced. Through Affinity Plus’ Community Investment Funding, the credit union was able to provide financial support to help get the vehicles back on the road to serve individuals and families.

“While this was an event that adversely rocked our community, the fact that it happened also drew us to learn more about Channel One and its programs supporting so many people in Southeast Minnesota,” said Billie Packer, Affinity Plus Branch Manager for Rochester and Winona. “The result of the flood has created awareness, support, and partnerships we’ll be proud to foster for years to come.”

Virginia Merritt, Executive Director of Channel One, said she is appreciative of Affinity Plus’ efforts and its contributions to help with the damage.

“We are so grateful for the community’s support and profoundly grateful to Affinity Plus’ swift action to come to our rescue,” said Merritt. “Their gift shows their commitment to supporting our work so we may continue focusing our energy on providing food to the region and people we serve.”

Affinity Plus has worked with Channel One for several years. In early 2019, the credit union expanded its “charity of choice” relationship with Second Harvest Heartland to include the other Feed America food banks (six in total for Minnesota).


Jason and Carly Zucker with Dave Larson holding a large check for Give16 Honors

Affinity Plus Supports Inaugural GIVE16 Honors with Jason and Carly Zucker

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union helped sponsor the first-ever GIVE16 Honors at the Hutton House on Wednesday, August 28, 2019.

Radio personality Carly Zucker, and her husband, Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker, were hosts of the inaugural event. The GIVE16 Honors was an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate 16 individuals, organizations, teams or nonprofits who make an impact.

One of the 16 recipients was Eunice Adjei from the Jugaad Leadership Program. Adjei is an Affinity Plus Member, and is the founder of the St. Cloud-based Jugaad Leadership Program in St. Cloud, which is a program designed to equip participants with knowledge, skill sets, and resources to be effective in leading change at the grassroots level.

Jason Zucker had this to say: “Carly and I are so grateful for our generous donors, especially Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, who are helping us make this event a night to remember. We know that the generosity will help recognize all of the evening’s 2019 GIVE16 Honors recipients, who go above and beyond in their communities.”

As a surprise to the recipients, Affinity Plus donated $1,000 to each recipient so they can continue to give back to their communities.


President and CEO Dave Larson Hits the Airwaves During Minnesota State Fair

Did you know that the Minnesota State Fair broke record attendance this year? Labor Day record attendance of 184,740 brought this year’s cumulative attendance total to 2,126,551, setting a new overall attendance record.

Were you one of those people? From food on a stick, to rides and cute baby animals, there’s plenty to do and see at The Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Perhaps you were able to see Dave Larson, President and CEO of Affinity Plus, on KARE 11 on Friday, August 30, 2019. He talked about the difference between a credit union and a bank, how Affinity Plus strives to make our communities a better place, and even offered a special promotion.

You can watch Dave’s full interview on YouTube.

In addition to Dave’s KARE 11 appearance, Minnesota Credit Unions partnered with Indeed Brewing Company and The Freehouse to create an exclusive beer for the Minnesota State Fair. It was called The Great Minnesota Handshake, which was brewed with strawberry, vanilla and cream. $1 per cup sold helped fund literacy initiatives through the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation.


The Top 5 Saving Tips for College Students

When August rolls around, parents might be ready to send their kids back to school. When it comes to college-aged students, they might be ready to leave before then! If you’re in college, the costs might seem daunting and overwhelming. From tuition to books to food and more, it all adds up. Here are the top 5 tips when it comes to money saving advice for college students.

  1. Create a budget for yourself. This is key! Try working on creating a realistic budget that you can stick to. Be sure to incorporate any regular bills and payments. Always remember that a budget isn’t set in stone and might take several tries to get right.
  2. Implement an account for emergencies. Let’s face it, life happens! You might have an unexpected emergency that could cost you extra and put you in a sticky situation. Put extra money aside whenever you can as a “just in case” fund.
  3. Have a conversation about wants and needs. Sure, a $4 coffee every day sounds nice, but that cost adds up! Start asking yourself whether items are a necessity before making a purchase.
  4. Establish good savings habits. Consider opening up a student savings account for future tuition, school supplies, or spring break activities. By having good savings habits, you’ll set yourself up for success as you graduate college.
  5. Always know your debt amount. Make sure that you know the amount of debt you will have at graduation so there aren’t any surprises. It’s definitely a number you shouldn’t ignore.


Affinity Plus Foundation Scholarships Available

The Affinity Plus Foundation works to engage, educate and empower individuals and communities. The Foundation offers two scholarship programs to Affinity Plus members, and now’s the time to apply and make smart financial decisions early on!

CAMPUS SCHOLARSHIP: The Campus Scholarship application period is now open! The deadline to submit applications is October 15, 2019, and winners will be announced by November 30, 2019, and posted on our winner’s page. Through the Campus Scholarship Program, the Affinity Plus Foundation awards ten $3,000 scholarships to students. Seven scholarships are dedicated to schools that have an Affinity Plus branch on campus and/or a strong reciprocal relationship with the credit union. Schools include:

  • Bemidji State University
  • Minnesota State University – Mankato
  • Minnesota State University - Moorhead
  • St. Cloud State University
  • University of Minnesota – Duluth
  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
  • Winona State University
  • A Minnesota-based Technical or Community College

Three additional scholarships are awarded to students attending a Minnesota-based Community or Technical Colleges.

To learn more, please visit: www.affinityplusfoundation.org/scholarship/campus-scholarship.


ANNUAL SCHOLARSHIP: The application period for the 2020-2021 Annual Scholarship Program will open in mid-September 2019, with a deadline of January 31, 2020. This is open to students throughout the U.S. Winners will be announced by the end of March 2020. Through the Annual Scholarship Program, the Affinity Plus Foundation awards eight $5,000 scholarships to students in four categories:

  • Incoming Freshman – defined as incoming freshmen directly out of high school
  • Upperclassman – defined as sophomore/junior/senior following the traditional path of college directly out of high school
  • Non-traditional – defined as students who had a break in their education between years or before pursuing college
  • Master's or Doctorate – defined as students who are pursuing a degree beyond their undergraduate studies

To learn more, please visit: www.affinityplusfoundation.org/scholarship/annual-scholarship.


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