In true “people helping people” fashion, credit unions have been consistently rallying together in the adversity of the coronavirus pandemic and helping their members and the community with generous acts of kindness.
Credit unions around the state are helping members in a variety of ways, and the New York Credit Union Association continues to collect examples of how credit unions are helping their members and communities during the public health and economic crisis through an online survey.
Curt Cecala, CEO of TCTFCU, recently shared some examples of acts of kindness performed by TCT professionals:
Helping a member signup for stimulus check
Caroline is our director of branch operations and on a Friday, one of our branches was short on staff, so she left her office and traveled to the branch to help out. She received a call from a member who wanted to know where her stimulus check was. Our member did not have a computer or an email address. Caroline was on the phone with her for an hour, first helping her set up an email account on her phone, verbally giving her step by step instructions. She then walked her through registering on the IRS.gov website so that she could receive a stimulus check via direct deposit.
Helping a member get home from Indonesia
We received a call from our member Stephanie, who was teaching in a little town called Sentani, located in Indonesia. The American Embassy had selected her to evacuate to the U.S. due to COVID-19 concerns, and Stephanie called us because she wanted to be sure her TCT debit card or credit card would allow the international purchases she needed to return home.
Stephanie needed to purchase her airline tickets home from Jakarta, but the challenge was that she didn’t know what day the embassy was going to evacuate her, so she didn’t know the dates she would need to travel. She also wasn’t sure which country the purchase would originate from, which made it nearly impossible to know how we could open the card for her while also protecting it from fraudulent transactions. Adding to the challenge was finding an appropriate method of ongoing communication given the time difference and schedule uncertainty.
When Gretchen arrived the following Monday, she had received a detailed email from Stephanie with some potential flights that would get her home. Gretchen was able to open her card so that she could purchase the flights and also added the travel exemptions necessary to accommodate the countries Stephanie would be traveling through as well.
After Stephanie’s expected return home, Gretchen reached out to make sure she successfully arrived. Stephanie’s response: “Yes, Gretchen, thank you!!! I arrived here Saturday evening around 10 p.m. It was a LONG trip back, but I finally arrived. Thank you for your help in getting a ticket! Everything was crazy toward the end and got crazier as the country was preparing to go into lockdown even as we were trying to get out. We all made it out, but it was high adventure . . . I am so very grateful for your help.”
Credit union cooperative spirit – TCT passes to SEFCU
We have a longtime member who called me at about 3 in the afternoon. His son owns a business installing pools and said he had just spoken to his son, who was at a loss in what he could do because his business suddenly stopped with restrictions New York put in place. His son was not sure how he could pay his employees or what all this meant for his business. His father told his son he would call TCT and speak to me, the CEO, because he trusted that if TCT could help they would and if not, we would steer his son in the best direction.
When I spoke with his father, I could hear the worry in his voice for his son. I explained that we are not involved in business lending, but I explained what we could do for his son if he needed us. I knew our loan products may not be the best solution for his son, so I encouraged him to have his son check out a couple credit unions in our area. I knew each did business lending and told him to ask about the new SBA program. I knew his son lived where he could join the credit unions I mentioned, and I was confident they would take care of him.
About an hour later the father called me back. I cannot put in words how grateful he was just for the advice. The relief in his voice was noticeable. His son told his dad he knew someone who works at SEFCU and called them immediately. SEFCU set him up on the new SBA program within the hour!
Hand sanitizers for sheriffs, supplies to food pantries and bags for students
Warren County Sheriff Jim LaFarr, was speaking with a TCT staff member and mentioned that the patrol officers as well as corrections department had no hand sanitizer upon the initial breakout of COVID-19. Our community relations manager, Jean Dickinson, delivered 200 personal bottles of hand sanitizer to the sheriff’s department to help protect our first responders upon pulling over or interacting with anyone in the community.
In addition to the restricted food purchases in the stores, many are having a hard time providing all essentials to their families. As such, TCT reached out to the community pantries to help fulfill their immediate needs. This resulted in the purchase of pet supplies, personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and food.
We supplied hand sanitizer and reusable grocery bags to members that came through the drive thru for as long as supplies lasted. We also supplied reusable grocery bags to two schools for students to clean out their lockers and collect school free offerings to the students.