Moss Nabs Achievement Award

Mary Moss, community relations manager at Harborstone CU, says helping people help themselves is her passion.

February 1, 2011

Who: Mary Moss
What: Community Relations Manager, Harborstone CU
Where: Tacoma, Wash.

On receiving the Pierce County Chapter of CUs’ Lifetime Achievement Award: It was an honor; more than I could have imagined. Being recognized by my peers—whom I feel are more deserving of this award—really makes me proud. It means I’ve done my job well without effort because helping people help themselves is my passion.

Maintaining enthusiasm for CUs is easy: When I help someone achieve financial goals, it inspires me. I started as a teller and worked in operations and lending for many years. I haven’t issued a loan recently, but it’s rewarding when longtime members remind me I gave them their first loans. I’m thrilled when they tell me they now have families and that all their financial needs are fulfilled through Harborstone.

I’m grateful to Harbor­stone: Through its mone­­­tary and emotional support, I was able to obtain my associate’s, bachelor’s, and M.B.A. degrees. The credit union supported me every step of the way.

Harborstone’s culture is: Family-oriented. The culture is based on the eight principles of the “heroic environment”:

  1. Treat others with uncompromising truth.
  2. Lavish trust on associates.
  3. Be willing to mentor anyone and be open to mentoring from anyone.
  4. Be receptive to new ideas, regardless of their origin.
  5. Take personal risks for the sake of the organization.
  6. Give credit where credit is due.
  7. Be honest and ethical in all matters.
  8. Put the interests of others before your own.

I came to the CU: During the “green bar” era 32 years ago. Employees had to search through reams of green-bar paper to find members’ balances, deposits, and withdrawals. Typewriters were an important piece of equipment, because all documents were hand-typed. There could be no type-overs or corrections. Members at the teller windows watched our every move. It was nerve-racking. We were happy when computers arrived.

Next: Harborstone supports deployed members and their families

Harborstone was selected the Air Force CU of the Year in 2006 and 2010 because: We’ve been strong supporters of the military since the credit union’s founding more than 50 years ago to serve military personnel at the McChord Air Force base. As our field of membership has grown, Harborstone has become a solid connection to the state’s local communities, supporting all branches of the military. Harborstone supplies financial service to deployed members and their families by reimbursing their ATM fees. The credit union co-sponsored a nonprofit organization called Support America’s Armed Forces. Through monthly fund raising, food collection, and grant requests this organization has raised an average $40,000 annually to provide financial support, funding for installation activities, and countless financial grants for military families. I could talk for hours about the many ways Harborstone supports the military and how pleased we are to do it.

It’s personally gratifying to serve military members because: I was an Air Force dependent for more than 17 years. I truly understand the importance of community support to the families left behind when a head of household is deployed. I received great support from my neighbors and the community, so it just comes naturally to me to serve and support military personnel and their families. This also aligns with the credit union mission of “people helping people.”

My routine when I get home from work: My job is hectic, and changes daily. When time allows after work, however, I relax for 25-30 minutes before preparing dinner. After dinner, I connect with friends online, return phone calls, or read a book.

If I could take a month-long vacation, I would: Spend it on a cruise ship with all the amenities—just relaxing and being pampered. I’d love to visit several Pacific islands.

Few people are aware that I: Own an RV and attend events with an RV club. It’s my personal relaxation technique. I truly love the outdoors and reconnecting with my inner spirit.

A funny story that shows even experienced employees make mistakes: I came to work one morning wearing a co-worker’s name tag upside-down. I still can’t explain it, but we all had a good laugh that day.

When I was young, I wanted to be: A leader. I recall going to school, watching the teachers conduct their classes, and thinking, “One day I want to be a leader.” Not necessarily a teacher—I really didn’t know what type of leader I wanted to be—I just knew I wanted to be a leader. Once my children were grown and on their own I knew it was time for me to focus on my life purpose. I worked in retail for several years and realized that, although I was very happy in my role as supervisor, I wasn’t really fulfilling my purpose. I’d advanced as far as I could in retail, so I decided to go into finance. I researched the various types of financial institutions and was impressed with the philosophy of credit unions. I applied at the credit union, and the rest is history.

My advice for young workers starting CU careers today: Make sure you truly understand the credit union philosophy and what it means. Believe in your credit union’s products and services. Be passionate about helping people achieve their financial goals.