Woman saves, gets $5,000 from Yelm Twinstar branch

c.r.roberts@thenewstribune.comApril 25, 2014 

Rainier resident Anne Mickatavage receives a ceremonial check for $5,000 from TwinStar Credit Union CEO Jeff Kennedy, left, at the Yelm branch Tuesday. At right is TwinStar mascot Dollar Dog.

DREW PERINE/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Even if they lose, they win.

And Anne Mickatavage of Rainier won $5,000 in the Save to Win program sponsored by her credit union, TwinStar.

The company mascot, Dollar Dog, was at the Yelm TwinStar branch Tuesday as company officials presented Mickatavage with a ceremonial check.

When Mickatavage heard the news of her victory, she said, “I just screamed and yelled.”

“We want to reward people for saving their own money,” said TwinStar CEO Jeff Kennedy.

Depositors receive an entry into the contest every time they make a $25 deposit to a special Certificate of Deposit savings account. A monthly drawing selects winners of small cash prizes, and the annual drawing selects the winners who receive $5,000.

The program is meant to encourage savings among nonsavers, and participants so far seem to meet the target demographics.

According to Lynn Heider, spokeswoman for the Northwest Credit Union Association, most of the participants were not regular savers before joining the program. Sixty-two percent had assets of less the $5,000. Eighty-three percent admitted to having “little or no savings” and 80 percent had over $10,000 in debt.

Credit unions in only three other states — Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina — offer Save to Win. The Washington program was authorized by state gambling regulators, and the State Department of Financial Institutions testified in favor of the program before the Legislature.

“I think anything that encourages people to save is good,” said Linda Jekel, the department’s director of credit unions.

Heider said there are 950 “prize-linked savings” accounts in the state, and account holders have saved a total of $885,222 since accounts were authorized.

Nationwide, 1.2 million members have saved more than $36 million since Michigan inaugurated the program in 2009.

Mickatavage was among three statewide $5,000 winners, one more from TwinStar, in Vancouver, and a third from North Coast in Mount Vernon.

A self-employed environmental engineer, she said she would spend the money on “something fun.”

A member of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Yelm, she gives some credit for her victory to a “creative reality.”

Heider, of the credit union association, expects the program to grow as Oregon lawmakers consider prize-linked savings at their next full session.

“I think it will continue to prove itself,” she said.

Because even the losers win.

Said TwinStar’s Jared Dance, “Even if you don’t win, you’ve still got a CD full of money.”

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535 c.r.roberts@thenewstribune.com

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