CDFI – 2. A Tale of Three Credit Union


HERE’S ‘A TALE OF THREE CREDIT
UNIONS’ TO HELP ILLUSTRATE CDFI SUCCESS. IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES… LORI OLSEN: To watch these
people move out of being homeless and
transitioning to having their own homes…
It’s a good feeling that you get from it. IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES… YNETTE GIBBS: We were in a
state of turmoil when our plan sponsor shut
their doors without warning and laid off
over 500 people. IT WAS THE AGE OF WISDOM… AMY NELSON: Applying for the
certification really was more about what if we didn’t
take on this certification and what
resources would we be missing out on if we didn’t try. … AND THE SPRING
OF HOPE! YNETTE GIBBS: The greatest
benefit is seeing three
generations change. That, to me, is the heart of
credit unions. THIS IS THE TALE OF THREE CREDIT
UNIONS AND THEIR CDFI STORY, THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FUND. NCUA’S OFFICE OF SMALL CREDIT
UNION INITIATIVES HELPS SMALL CREDIT UNIONS THROUGH
TRAINING, CONSULTING, GRANTS AND LOANS,
PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES. THIS TALE OF THREE CREDIT
UNIONS SHOWS HOW OSCUI HELPS SMALL CREDIT UNIONS ON THEIR
ROAD TO CDFI FUNDING, STARTING WITH A SEMINAR AT A
CONFERENCE IN VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON. VANESSA LOWE: I’m Vanessa
Lowe. I currently work for the
National Credit Union Administration in the Office
of Small Credit Union initiatives. Before I was with
NCUA, I worked for the CDFI fund. VANESSA LOWE AND THE REST OF
THE PANEL HELPED CREDIT UNIONS UNDERSTAND THE CDFI FUNDING
PROCESS. VANESSA LOWE: Primary
mission: essentially,
that you are committed to helping
low-income communities to thrive and survive and improve
their lot in life. YNETTE GIBBS KNOWS FIRST
HAND THE VALUE OF CDFI FUNDING. IT WAS A LIFESAVER WHEN HER
CREDIT UNION’S BIGGEST SPONSOR SHUT DOWN WITH NO NOTICE, BUT HER CREDIT UNION BOARD
SAID “NO WAY.” YNETTE GIBBS: Our board
was already looking for innovation and expansion. It wasn’t a need to convince;
it was more an opportunity of seeing an alternative to not
surviving, and so CDFI was a way for us
to expand into areas that would ensure our
survivability. NEWRIZONS FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
HAS RECEIVED CDFI FUNDING THREE TIMES SINCE 2002 WITH THE GOAL
OF HELPING THOSE WHO COULD NOT HELP THEMSELVES IN THE TINY
COASTAL COMMUNITY OF HOQUIAM, WASHINGTON. THE HELP INCLUDED ASSISTING A
GROWING HISPANIC POPULATION AND OTHERS WHO WERE CHRONICALLY UNDER OR UNEMPLOYED. YNETTE GIBBS: Providing loans
to people that, with their credit scores,
would never be something that you could provide a loan to,
because they were far too risky. Those things together meant
that we could make a real impact in our community to
make people more financially viable, better employees. And we worked with small
entrepreneurs to actually build a bigger job pool. The
pride they have in their … I’m gonna get all emotional. The pride they have in
themselves changes, and it’s contagious. You can’t put a price tag on
that. THE LIGHTHOUSE COMMUNITY
CREDIT UNION WANTED TO REACH THE UNDERSERVED TOO, INCLUDING
A HOMELESS SHELTER AND A “GET
SOBER” PROGRAM. LORI OLSEN: Grace Ministries
has a program in homes here locally where people can
go through the program and become sober. And part of being sober and
working your program is also getting financially healthy,
and so we’re here to offer them a place to start. It goes back to the whole, why
credit unions were started, you know, the “people helping
people” thing. I think everybody deserves to be able
to have a safe place that they can do their banking and
people that are going to look out for them, because some of
them don’t have the education or the confidence for that. POINT WEST CREDIT UNION IS IN
THE PROCESS OF APPLYING FOR CDFI FUNDING. AMY NELSON: The CDFI
certification, we realized, because of the
numerous steps involved, and this is new to us, we
wanted to utilize an outside resource, professional
resource, that had been through this
before. Fortunately, we qualified for a grant
through the NCUA, the small credit union office;
and with that grant money, we’re able to apply towards
that outside resource. POINT WEST ALREADY OFFERS
SERVICES LIKE FRESH START CHECKING AND FRESH START VISA
TO HELP THOSE WITH NO CREDIT BUILD THEIR CREDIT, BUT WITH
CDFI THEY CAN EXPAND TO SERVE MORE WHO ARE IN NEED. AMY NELSON: It’s already been
boots on ground, but now we get to have more
boots on ground. So, really, for us, this is,
you know, being able to build capacity
so that we can have more of our business partners out in
the community working with small and micro business
owners who are wanting to either start a business, or
build a business. So, though there may be products
and services that appear to be riskier, the loyalty base that
comes from the members who can find their financial footing
and then help spread that within their family, within
their own community is priceless. LORI OLSEN: I mean I’ve had
members come in in tears, happy tears, usually, that,
‘Thank you, thank you for doing this for
me.’ It makes me know that I’ve done the right thing. AMY NELSON: So, for the
‘credit unions helping credit unions, people helping people’
philosophy, you really have a business
model that serves the value set, but also grows your
business. Margin fuels mission. YNETTE GIBBS: I’m so proud of
the work that these members do for themselves and for their
families. The neighborhoods look better. The employers in our area are
overjoyed because they’re always screaming about having
unqualified people in the employment pool. These people are going to school
and getting better educated. They’re buying first-time
homes. It’s awesome! IN THE WORDS OF CHARLES
DICKENS, “IT WAS THE SEASON OF LIGHT,
WE HAD EVERYTHING BEFORE US.” FOR MORE INFORMATION ON CDFI
FUNDING AND HOW YOU CAN APPLY, CONTACT: NCUA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *