GCU President / CEO February Report
The GCU is in the midst of celebrating its 131st anniversary as our Society was founded on February 14, 1892 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The GCU was founded upon the humanitarian needs of the Carpatho-Rusin immigrants that migrated to the United States of America, “The Promised Land,” in search of a “better life”! The majority of the Rusin immigrants labored in coal mines and steel mills, considered very dangerous and risky by commercial insurance carriers that opted not to offer life insurance coverage for these professions. The GCU’s primary focus was to provide life insurance to its members as the initial benefit upon a member’s passing was $400.00 and a $200.00 benefit for a member’s wife.
On a personal note, my Maternal Grandfather worked in the anthracite coal mines of Northeastern Pennsylvania. My family has photographs of him outside of an entrance to a mine alongside a mule that he ushered, hauling mine cars in and out of the mine to the surface, subsequently loading the coal onto railroad cars. Although he experienced no major accidents, he was diagnosed with “Black Lung Disease,” an inherent danger to all miners from the coal dust particles that were a part of their air supply. I am sure the ventilation within the mines was minimal and respirators were nonexistent at the time. Despite his hard-working life with meager wages, he supported a of family of six, his wife and five children living to the “ripe age of ninety-two”! Consequently, I may have longevity genes running on my Mother’s side of the family, but am not quite sure if my Grandpa John’s daily dose of a shot of Imperial whiskey, chewing tobacco and smoking stogies had anything to do with it!
In addition to providing life insurance to its members, the additional aims of the Founding Members in forming the GCU was to “spread love and friendship among the Rusin Greek Catholic people living in America; provide the ways and means necessary for the education of the people in national and religious requirements and of aid to churches and schools; and if financial conditions permit, the giving of aid to the injured and indigent members.” Over the past one hundred and thirty-one years the GCU has continued this mission expanding humanitarian efforts beyond individuals of the Carpatho-Rusin ancestry and Byzantine Catholics to other individuals, social services and religious organizations in need of volunteer and financial support.
Over the course of GCU’s history, in addition to the many fraternal activities sponsored on a national level, our lodge system also played an important role in organizing the many volunteer, fundraising and social events. Our lodge system’s structure, governance and purpose over the years certainly served GCU and its members well. Our thank you to all of our members that have served as officers of their respective lodges & districts and to the members that have participated in the many activities in support of their respective parish and community. The GCU has provided many memories to our members through the social & sporting activities and various volunteer & fundraising events sponsored in support of our Byzantine Catholic Parishes and communities! As I have reported, due to the many challenges that have faced our fraternal structure, the GCU is embarking on a “whole new modern look”!
Effective January 1st, we officially launched the new “GCU Fraternal Metamorphosis Program” that will expand our support to our all Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Parishes within the United States and expand the GCU’s presence in the communities where our members reside.
In the rebranding process of the GCU to present our Society with this more modern look and feel, we were cognizant to incorporate aspects of our past into this process The GCU’s initial adopted emblem was an eagle in flight holding an American flag in the talons of its right claw and a three-bar cross in it left claw. Directly above the head of the eagle was a brightly shining star as this emblem is presented on this page. In rebranding our local and state lodges we have selected the “Star” to maintain our connection between the past and present. Our former state lodges will be titled “Galaxies” with our former local/parish lodges being regrouped into “Constellations” to which each of our members will be assigned to. If you have not already done so, I once again invite you to the GCU’s website – www.GCUusa.com - and view the video presented under Events – GCU Fraternal Metamorphosis that presents this new program.
The initial phase of this program is securing GCU members to serve in the capacity of Byzantine Parish Coordinators and Constellation Coordinators. Information on each of these positions is presented on page 3 in the February Magazine along with a list of Constellations positions yet to be filled. If you are interested in becoming a Parish or Constellation Coordinator or have questions, please contact Basil Wahal, GCU Fraternal / Communications Director via phone at 724-683-3924 or email – bwahal@GCUusa.com. We are most excited about this new programming that will provide for more of a GCU presence and expand our humanitarian efforts within the communities our members reside in. The GCU will “Focus on Fraternalism in 2023”!
As I have stated in past reports, the GCU can only be strong “fraternally” as we are “financially”! The GCU now boasts the strongest financial position in the history of the GCU. Our Society is duel rated by AM Best and KBRA with each agency assigning a financial strength rating of A- (excellent) with a stable outlook. A copy of the recent surveillance report issued by KBRA is available on the GCU website on the Financial Report page of the GCU website. Our Chief Financial Officer, Tim Demetres, and his Staff are in the process of finalizing the GCU’s annual report to be filed in each of the states we are licensed in. Our initial projections indicate that GCU will have an excellent year-end report with assets totaling $2.6 billion, a $226 million or 9.4% increase over fiscal year 2022. Surplus increased by $10.5 million along with realizing a net income of $18.1 million. Our sincere thank you to our members and agents for your confidence and support of GCU that is the most integral part of our current and future financial success! We believe that we offer extremely competitive life and annuity products in the marketplace as our volume of premium we experienced indicates, together with a Staff that “cares” in servicing the needs of our members and agents. If you have not already done so, please “check out” our “enhanced rates” currently being offered through April 15th on our Flex 8 at 4.65% and Five Year Advantage at 4.35%!
Although our winter here in Western Pennsylvania has been fairly mild, I am personally looking forward to spring that is “right around the corner,” as Mother Nature that God has created, once again transforms from its winter slumber to an amazing landscape of life – ENJOY!
GOODNESS IS GREAT!
George N. Juba | President CEO