It seems the norm during the last few months that as you open an email, listen to a radio announcement, or watch the news, it starts with the same opening over and over: “During these unprecedented times," “during this time of uncertainty,” or “these are challenging times.” My thoughts are with individuals who are part of the credit union family. We live the “people helping people” philosophy. We are essential; we are strong; and we are a family.
Callahan and Associates delivered a first quarter 2020 Trendwatch presentation recently, providing insightful data and statistics, including:
In March, many credit unions made the difficult decision to close their branches temporarily. Some credit unions assisted members by appointment only in the lobby, while others chose to stay open and continue assisting their members as well as their share branch members. In a lot of cases, modifications were made to provide multiple types of services available in the drive-thru. During this time, credit unions also reported increased cash withdrawals as members were unsure of what the future might hold.
Following are comments shared by credit union staff as they made adjustments to take care of members and themselves during COVID-19.
Greater Texas Federal Credit Union, with locations across Texas
“We alternate workdays between two groups of people to limit interaction and promote safety,” said Reagan Martin, regional branch manager, Arlington/Dallas. “We have one group working Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the other group works Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The lobby is closed, but we make appointments for member loan closings and fraudulent activity requiring the closing of the account and opening a new one. We still provide many services in the drive-thru including shared branching.”
Martin added, “A member praised us for providing services at all during this unsettling time. She thanked us profusely and wants us to stay healthy and safe. Overall, feedback is mostly positive, and people share a genuine concern for each other.”
1st University Credit Union in Waco, Texas
1st University Credit Union quickly installed safeguards protecting staff and members. The credit has one location and a lobby only. From the beginning, they have stayed open, continuing to serve their members and shared branching members. “This was our temporary solution in March, and with a little staff ingenuity and a little help from a few members, we were able to install this with no damage to the building,” said Christine Wall, senior account executive/administrative assistant.
These comments demonstrate how credit unions and their staff going the extra mile to serve members, and it shows. Members and shared branching members are expressing their thanks for credit unions being open.
MemberSource Credit Union in Houston
“I feel that ‘people helping people’ is stepping out of the box to help others no matter the circumstances,” said Daphne Shepherd, branch manager. “At MemberSource CU, we have tried to do this to our fullest potential by serving members, referencing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. We have kept our branches open and continue to try and serve everyone at a minimal employee capacity to help keep us safe and observe social distancing to help members stay safe.”
Shepherd added, “A vast majority of the share branch members are just happy that we are open to serve them. I believe that they are grateful to us because we never closed our lobbies and would work with them on special cases with funds."
Many credit unions have stayed connected to their members and their communities in a variety of ways.
MCT Credit Union in Port Neches, Texas
Magan Bordes, marketing manager at MCT Credit Union, made a staff video, posting it on Facebook for members to connect with the individuals at the credit union - Click here to watch the video. In addition, they gave back to the community in the following ways:
Port Arthur Teachers Credit Union in Port Arthur, Texas
“We have some refinery and construction workers from out of town that use us regularly for out of town credit union access.” Cindy Drummond, president/CEO Port Arthur Teachers Federal Credit Union.
Purchasing a home can be stressful, even in the best of times. Adding in the COVID-19 circumstances makes it even more so. “A shared branch member was buying a house and needed a cashier’s check,” said Alicia Quezada, CEO of Travis County Credit Union. “She called ahead, and we confirmed we could process the transaction. However, when she arrived, the transaction wouldn’t work. Her credit union wasn’t allowing the check withdrawal. Our staff worked with the other credit union, and we were able to complete the transaction, providing her with the cashier’s check. She was happy receiving the check and getting to the closing for her home.
“One of our older members was experiencing difficulties depositing an item via mobile deposit. She was unsure about using it and wanted to visit a branch,” said Jill McNabb, Greater Texas FCU regional branch manager, Bastrop, Manor, and San Marcos. “When she contacted us about this due to COIVD-19, our branches in San Antonio were shut down, so she didn’t know what to do. We referred her to a shared branching location that was able to make her deposit. She was happy that she was still able to access her account with us in this way."
McNabb added, “We have a shared branching member who has been coming in for a while. He contacted us one day after he had purchased a few money orders from us and stated that he lost the money orders. He came in to get the money order loss form and purchase new money orders. I went out and spoke with him about it and offered one of our money bags to him. Now he keeps all his money and money orders in it, so he doesn't lose them. After we spoke, he went home and found the original money orders lying on his kitchen counter with some other mail. Now, this member comes in and always keeps his money bag with him, along with his transaction slip, and he puts the money and money orders that he purchases from us in this bag.”
Credit unions made changes to already existing facilities and staffing. Two credit unions added to this stressful situation by overseeing the construction of new branches. They are:
Texas Bay Credit Union staff pose at the new location’s lobby teller pod.
A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the content of this post. We live the "people helping people" philosophy. We are essential; we are strong; and we are a family.
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