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The first time I met Carol Schillios I was 19 years old. I was a teller at a government employees credit union in Portland, Oregon and I actually got to go to Seattle to a conference! It was to be the first of many road trips in my life. But at the time I didn’t know it.

Carol spoke about Member Service. At the time I wasn’t even really sure what a credit union was. Seemed like a bank. Our branch was kind of ugly, the head teller was always hunched over her desk smoking Salem menthols and running tapes on checks. 

She did have one member service training moment. It looked like this: “Hey ladies, when a member comes up to your window, you need to put your cigarette down while you wait on them.” The expectations were pretty low.

Carol oozed member service. I’ll never forget the passion with which she spoke about ownership and people helping people. She had and still has this twinkle in her eye when she talks about helping people. She believes with all her heart that we are put on this earth to serve. It you are serving someone, you are doing something that matters. It changed my life. That day I remember thinking “Some day I want to be like Carol.” 

Carol has gone on to help people in ways that I have to admit, I don’t think I have the guts, the conviction or the stamina to match. She’s currently camping on top of her shop in Edmonds, Washington until she raises $1 million to make a difference in the world. 

Carol received the coveted Herb Wegner award two years ago for her work in Africa

Today we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Estes Park meeting that formed CUNA. 

“Seventy-five years ago, an extraordinary group of credit union pioneers held a ‘meeting of the minds’ in Estes Park, Colo., about a national association that would enhance the movement throughout the land and help it become self-reliant,” said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica.

There were 52 delegates from 21 states and the District of Columbia that traveled to this historic meeting. Can you imagine what the conditions were like? There were no cell phones, no internet, airlines were in their infancy, and no air conditioning!! 


Carol has a cell phone and is blogging from the roof – but she is taking showers from a sun warmed bag of water, she is relying on friends to bring her food and she’s braving summer elements, bugs, cramped living conditions – I can’t even imagine.

Today I can think of no other way to celebrate the people who have helped so many people than by honoring Carol Schillios. 

If you are willing to collect a buck from your fellow employees for a birthday cake or pizza, why not for Carol’s cause? 

She’s given so much to us – let’s get her off that roof!

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August 2009