Filling Canoes for the Community

'We have canoes in city halls. We have canoes in local malls. We have canoes in the libraries...'

October 07, 2013
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For Amy Davis, success equals red canoes full of donated school supplies.
Davis, vice president of marketing for Red Canoe Credit Union in Longview, Wash., has garnered a number of marketing awards in her career. But she’s
more likely to beam about results from her team’s “Fill the Canoe” school supply drives.
“I am pretty proud of the work we’ve done in the community,” Davis says. “We try to stand for what the credit union difference is all about.”
The annual canoe-filling event, which encourages the public to drop off school supplies in canoes displayed at branches, has been a huge success. Since its
inception, the credit union has collected and matched more than 47,000 pounds of donated school supplies.

Plus, local business partners clamor to participate—65 joined the effort this year.
“We have canoes in city halls. We have canoes in local malls. We have them in the libraries. A couple of churches have come on board and brought in their own canoes,” Davis says.
The effort is a centerpiece for the credit union’s outreach efforts and builds on a brand pushed downstream by Davis and others in 2007. That’s when the institution changed its name from Weyerhaeuser Employees’ Credit Union.

“We definitely see return from Fill the Canoe even though that isn’t our intention. When you do right things, right things happen,” Davis says.
The event, originally pulled together in a matter of weeks, reinforces Davis’ ability to collaborate, not only with her team of “rock stars” but with the business community.
“Amy is a talented marketer with a world-class marketing mind. She brings innovation and creativity to a higher level. You only need to look at the growth of her credit union to see this,” says Sean McDonald, director of business development for Mid-State Federal Credit Union in Carteret, N.J. “I’m always impressed
with Amy’s input and contributions.”
McDonald and Davis both serve as members of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council’s executive committee. Participating on the council is
one way she gives back to those who helped her early in her career.
Back when she barely knew what a credit union was, Davis recalls receiving assistance from the council and an employee at another credit union that, technically, was a local competitor.

“I just remember being so touched by that,” Davis says.

The council is happy to have her intelligence and passion on the team, says Michelle Hunter, chair of the executive committee.
“She donates her time and talents graciously to advance our profession nationally,” says Hunter, senior vice president of marketing and development at Credit
Union of Southern California. “She is genuine, responsible, resourceful, and intellectually curious—characteristics that contribute to her being a ‘rock star’ in our profession.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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