IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO TELL how a worker learns about credit unions inside and out, consider Wendy Bussa.
She started working part time at a credit union when she was 19 years old. She stayed there for eight years, working her way up from part-time teller, to full-time teller, to member service rep, to home equity specialist, to accounting, and finally to under-writer.
Even with all of that experience, she wondered if a change would be nice. So she was receptive when a friend asked her to work at his motorcycle dealership. She spent six years there in the finance and insurance and loan processing departments—and had a baby along the way.
But working there came to weigh on her. “I learned that I preferred helping people save money, not gouging them. In my heart, I knew I was directing them to costly loans.”
Bussa left the dealership to return to the place where her heart really belonged: $76 million asset Hopewell Federal Credit Union in Heath, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. She has been there almost seven years now, currently working as a mortgage originator.
Aside from gaining a reputation for warmth and friendliness toward Hopewell Federal’s members, Bussa has made her mark assisting members who can’t come up with down payment on a house.
She connects members with grants up to $5,000, available through a Welcome Home Affordable Housing Grant—a program offered for a short time every March by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati.
“I work with the marketing department to alert realtors and contact members who I think could use the program,” Bussa says. “Because the window for applying for the grant is so narrow, we start publicizing it two months before it becomes available. If a member is patient, it’s worth waiting a few extra months.”
When she contacts qualified members with the news about the loan, they’re delighted at finally being able to cross the line from “can’t afford” to “can afford.”
While Wendy has moved on from underwriting—“which I loved”—to loan origination, fortunately for her, the newer position is a match for her skills: “I’m a numbers person,” she says—something her current role supplies in abundance.