When the four school districts she supports began organizing for fall classes, Katie Templet, member relations officer at $211 million asset Meritus Credit Union, Lafayette, La., surveyed principals on their most pressing needs.
Their top answer: Hand sanitizer.
Templet went to work. She secured a vendor and obtained bottles of hand sanitizer branded with the Meritus logo and distributed them to the school districts.
The schools also needed personal protection equipment (PPE). Again, Meritus stepped up by providing supplies.
Business development, which until recently relied almost exclusively on personal contact and face-to-face meetings, has had to reinvent itself during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic through equal parts ingenuity and remote technology.
“The word ‘interesting’ doesn’t begin to cover it,” says Templet.
While Meritus has a community charter, it started as an education-based credit union, and Templet’s focus is serving local school employees. Area school districts were virtually shut down in mid-March, she says.
“Of course I touched base with them,” Templet says. “We sent out an email and wrote multiple blog posts informing school employees what to do with their savings during a crisis, how to support their local businesses and economy, and what the credit union can do for them, such as deferring payments.
“We usually set aside money for a grant, but we decided to use that money right away through a random drawing,” she continues. “We kept in touch but didn’t bother them too much because everything was overwhelming for schools at that point.”
When schools began organizing for fall classes, Templet surveyed school principals and discerned the need for hand sanitizer and PPE. The credit union also commissioned an animated video that talks about the credit union difference to play during virtual meetings.
Templet also secured 51 gallon bottles of hand sanitizer as well as alcohol wipes, all branded with the Meritus logo.
“We are also giving one low-income elementary school 300 branded water bottles because their rules will no longer allow students to use water fountains,” she says. “Many students’ families can’t afford this extra expense, so we hope this can relieve the school’s burden of constantly purchasing more water bottles.”
Templet has scheduled six in-person and five remote meetings with school employees this fall. That’s a far cry from the 30 meetings she would typically have on the docket at this time of the year.
Still, she remains upbeat.
“My focus now is providing as many resources for our members as I can,” she says. “I feel like we’re making our relationships stronger because members are experiencing our commitment to serve them firsthand. This is what credit unions were made for.”
NEXT: Shifting gears