Diane Gibson chuckles a little when asked where, aside from her credit union, she would have turned for financial help during the recent government shutdown.
“Nowhere,” says Gibson, a member of Canvas Credit Union in Lone Tree, Colo., and an administrative assistant with the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s the first and only place I would turn.”
Gibson turned to Canvas for a loan during the shutdown “just to get us through.”
Canvas processed 20 “Helping Hand” loans totaling $94,000 during the shutdown and allowed members to skip 171 monthly loan payments on 86 loans for 80 members.
“We created our Helping Hand program to better assist our members and our Colorado community,” says Tansley Stearns, chief people and strategy officer. “Our goal is to offer as much assistance to our Canvas family as possible in all situations.”
Canvas member Marcellus Goodwin, a senior program specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, also received financial assistance from the credit union during shutdown. “There was no one else I considered,” Goodwin says. “They were someone I trusted.”
Much of that trust is built on long-term relationships. “I’ve been a member of this credit union since I was in college. We’re talking 25 years, plus,” says Sean Petracek, a supervisory tax analyst with the Internal Revenue Service, who received a loan from the credit union during the shutdown.
Terry O’Rourke, CEO of United Federal Credit Union in St. Joseph, Mich., says government employees began seeking financial assistance during the third week of the government shutdown. United serves employees of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Interior, and federal prisons.
“They really needed one of a couple things,” O’Rourke says. “They needed a personal loan to replace the income stream they were missing from their paychecks or they wanted to minimize their cash outflow through loan deferments. The goal was to maximize their cash on hand given their lack of income.”
O’Rourke says these members were “extremely grateful” for the service. At the same time, members who were not affected by the shutdown also recognized the credit union for its service.
“We got a lot of positive feedback through social media,” O’Rourke says.
Kinetic Credit Union in Columbus, Ga., processed eight loan extensions and provided two loans to furloughed members.
“We wanted our members to have peace of mind during a time that significantly impacted their lives,” says Mark Littleton, president/CEO. “Kinetic will always support our government workers and their families when they need it most.”
Hiway Federal Credit Union in St. Paul, Minn., provided about a dozen loans and 23 loan deferments to members affected by the shutdown. “We wanted to make it easy for members,” says Jack Lundberg, vice president of consumer lending. “So when they reached out to us there wasn’t a big decision process if they wanted to get a loan or skip a payment.”
Lundberg says members appreciated the service. “That’s why people belong to credit unions. They know we’ll be there when they need us the most.”