This article ran in October’s issue of Georgia Trend Magazine. It was written by Angi Christensen Harben, the director of communications at Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.
Credit unions in Georgia help people afford life. It’s a simple and honest statement. When people walk into a credit union, they are walking into a place that exists for no other reason than to help them get what they need and want.
International Credit Union Day is celebrated annually on the third Thursday of October. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the reasons and the ways credit unions do what they do. Serving people of all ages, backgrounds, and at every point on the wealth spectrum, credit unions are designed with members service – not shareholder profits – in mind.
This year’s ICU Day theme is “Dreams Thrive Here.” Just as every member has a story of why they chose – and what they appreciate about – their credit union, every member also has dreams. And when Georgians look around at who is supporting those dreams, they see their credit union standing by ready to help make those dreams come true.
When a family with six children in Habersham county found their rental home had been sold and they needed to move, they turned to North Main Credit Union, where they’d been members for three years. They found a foreclosed house that needed renovations, and even with some credit challenges, the credit union approved their mortgage loan.
Complications with their closing resulted in the family needing additional funds for the renovations necessary to make the home habitable. Once again, the couple approached the credit union, which structured a personal loan to complete the renovations in a timely manner.
“We have our cars, mortgage and now personal loan with them and we will never use another bank,” the member said in a recommendation of North Main Credit Union on Facebook. “These are our people, and if they aren’t your people, you’re missing out!…They have seriously saved my sanity, given me hope back and made me excited again to be financially able to make our dream home perfect for our family!”
These are our people, and if they aren’t your people, you’re missing out!
A people-centered, rather than profit-centered, business model means credit unions are simply the best choice for consumers. And credit unions prove that every day. There are countless stories of how credit unions step in and provide a safety net for their members, often in difficult times. Credit union members have access to affordable loan rates (even with less-than-perfect credit), solid advice on how to get – and stay – on better financial footing, and a service culture that leads to uncovering the best outcomes for members.
But it’s not just life’s most difficult times that credit unions are there to partner with their member-owners.
“I had a member who came in to make a loan application for the trip of a lifetime,” noted Cheryl Spires, President/CEO of Altamaha Federal Credit Union based in Jessup, GA. “He had never been outside the country and a friend of his had invited him along on a trip to Paris.”
Without the several thousand dollars on hand to pay for the trip he turned to his credit union for a personal loan to make the trip. After his return, he presented Spires with a small replica of the Eiffel Tower to thank her for her help in making the trip possible. It was truly life-changing for him, as he met the woman of his dreams while there! And during her first visit to the United States, the couple dropped by the credit union to thank Spires for making his trip – and their meeting – possible.
After several visits back and forth, she moved to the U.S. and the two are now happily married.
“I still keep that Eiffel Tower replica to remind me of the happiness that our decisions as credit union employees can bring,” Spires said. “It may not always be as fantastic as this story, but it will always be as important to the member whose dream it makes come true.”