PHILADELPHIA — A group of American and Polish credit union leaders has joined forces to make a difference for Ukrainian refugees in Poland through the creation of the Polish American Credit Union Support Fund.
Since being formed in March, the effort has raised more than $400,000 through its partnerships with Mitchell Stankovic, C.A.R.E.S. Foundation, several American and Polish credit unions, and the National Association of Credit and Savings Unions, which serves as Poland’s primary credit union association.
The interior of one of the ambulances acquired and donated to help Ukranian refugees in Poland through donations to the Polish American Credit Union Support Fund. (PHOTO COURTESY AMERICAN HERITAGE CREDIT UNION)
Once of the people at the center of the effort is Bruce K. Foulke, president and CEO of Philadelphia-based American Heritage Credit Union, which has offices in the Greater Philadelphia region, including Delaware and Montgomery counties.
BRUCE K. FOULKE
In mid-March, Foulke visited Eastern Europe with Brian Branch, retired president and CEO of the World Council on Credit Unions.
They met with government and credit union leaders from Poland and Ukraine, as well as with refugees, to identify ways for the global credit union movement to provide “immediate relief and support to move displaced, sick, and injured Ukrainian refugees” and to provide refugees with safe housing and employment.
“Among the numerous requests was the need for 500 ambulances to move wounded and sick refugees out of the war area and to Polish hospitals,” Foulke said in a statement, adding that the cost of a local ambulance is about $75,000 USD. “These are not high-end vehicles; they serve as transports with basic medical equipment on board.”
So far, two ambulances have been acquired and donated and are in active service, transporting refugees — including sick children, pregnant mothers, and handicapped and injured persons — to Polish healthcare facilities. Donations have also been used to move refugee families to more permanent housing, place refugee children in schools, and find employment for refugees, many of whom arrived with no more than one suitcase for an entire family. More than 1,300 Ukrainian families have been supported through this effort to date, according to a press release.
The president and CEO of American Heritage Credit Union is one of the key figures in an international credit union fundraising effort to support Ukrainian refugees in Poland. This photo shows one of the ambulances that has been donated,. (PHOTO COURTESY AMERICAN HERITAGE CREDIT UNION)
Foulke and other credit union movement leaders have been raising funds through other credit unions and vendors primarily.
“I am asking and challenging the industry to provide a lifesaving donation to assist in the purchase of two ambulances,” Foulke added.
A Perkasie, Bucks County native, Foulke has a “long legacy” of supporting global citizens in need, according to an emailed response to questions. He previously served on the World Council of Credit Unions Board and the World Council of Credit Unions Foundation. In addition to Eastern Europe, Foulke has visited the Bahamas after severe hurricane damage, Nepal where he worked with local credit unions to establish policies and procedures and Busia where he facilitated the construction of an orphanage.
The interior of an ambulance donated to help Ukrainian refugees in Poland. The donation was made possible through the Polish American Credit Union Support Fund. (PHOTO COURTESY AMERICAN HERITAGE CREDIT UNION)
“The entire credit union movement has stepped up to help our fellow global citizens. Specifically, the Polish American Credit Union Support Fund supports the strategic and unique credit union financial mission for longer-term financial and economic integration of Ukrainian refugees in Poland,” Branch said in a statement. “It provides a credit union-to-credit union direct delivery channel for immediate impact for Ukrainian refugees, works within the credit union network, and delivers 100% of funds for program purpose with no intermediary fees.”
In addition to American Heritage Credit Union, more than a dozen Pennsylvania-based credit unions have donated to the project. A list of participating credit unions was not available at press time.
How Can American Organizations Get Involved?
U.S. organizations can find information about the Polish American Fund at https://www.mitchellstankovic.com/refugee.html. The relief fund has established multiple ways to receive donations. U.S. credit unions may send funds directly to the Polish American Credit Union Support Fund located in Poland at https://pacus.skok.pl/. Individuals may also make a credit card contribution through PayPal at the same site. For-profit organizations may make a tax-deductible contribution through the C.A.R.E.S. Foundation of Peach State FCU. To learn more, prospective donors can contact Bruce K. Foulke, president & CEO of American Heritage Credit Union, at [email protected]
Locally, under Foulke’s leadership, American Heritage Credit Union created the Kids-N-Hope Foundation 25 years ago, which has contributed more than $2.6 million to support pediatric music therapy programs at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and other local hospitals.
American Heritage Credit Union is a $4 billion, member-owned financial cooperative serving more than 800 Workplace Partners and more than 250,000 members, with more than 35 locations across Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden counties.