In separate incidents recently, two credit union employees took member service to a new level by tracking down the owners of large sums of lost cash.
Shirley Gallant (pictured below) was in the midst of one good deed—tending to Oxford Federal Credit Union’s “Giving Garden” after business hours—when she stumbled onto the chance to perform another, Credit Union Front Line Newsletter reports in the July 2013 issue.
The longtime receptionist at the $134 million asset credit union in Mexico, Maine, discovered a thick envelope full of cash while cleaning up the area after her handyman husband, Jamie, installed a new hose holder.
Fortunately, a one-week summer camp contract accompanied the $800 inside the envelope. Shirley recognized the name on the form as her friends’ son, contacted the family—and drove to their house to return the money.
The son who’d lost the envelope was retracing his steps around town but insisted Shirley wait there until he could thank her in person.
“His first words were, ‘My attitude about people has changed because of this,’” recalls Shirley, who got a big hug and was overwhelmed by emotion. “My husband just said, ‘I hope if this happens to me, someone will do the same.’”
Shirley regularly tends to Oxford Federal’s vegetable garden, which consists of seven raised beds and is part of the University of Maine’s Harvest for Hunger program. Last year, its first in the program, Oxford Federal donated 236 pounds of fresh produce to people in need, filling a void that food pantries can’t address.
Oxford Federal encourages staff to assist during office hours. But since gardens need attention at all times, Shirley and other employees often volunteer to water and weed on nights and weekends.
That particular night, Shirley and Jamie chose an unusual parking spot right next to the garden so they could unload supplies. She remembers a heavy flow of cars through the drive-through ATM, and seeing a man get out of a vehicle after completed his transaction.
It turns out he was taking a photograph of deer in tall grass nearby, and the envelope must have fallen out of his pocket in the process.
The Gallants were in the right place at the right time and did the right thing. “They saved a family’s vacation,” beams Kelly Henry, a financial services representative at Oxford Federal. “It gave me chills when she told the story.”
In Shirley’s mind, she and her husband merely were following the credit union principle of people helping people.
“I’m still in shock. People work so hard today for their money,” Shirley says. “There are a lot of negative things happening in the world today so we need some good news, too.”
In the other incident, reported by Chesterfield (Mo.) Patch, $702 million asset Vantage Credit Union in St. Louis received a message on its Facebook page from a man visiting New York City saying he’d discovered nearly $1,000 in cash in a Vantage-branded envelope.
Jenn Cloud, Vantage’s social media specialist, shared this message through every channel available, including the local media, in an attempt to find the person who'd lost it. The New York restaurant where the cash was found emailed Cloud to notify her that a woman had called them looking for it.
Cloud connected Jonathon Glueck, the man who’d discovered the envelope, and its rightful owner, Jennie Guenzler, a Vantage member. He returned the envelope to her with the cash intact.
“Of all the hands it could’ve fallen into, this was just an honest, good person,” Guenzler told Chesterfield Patch. “It’s just one of those stories that you’ll always have to tell.”
Kathy Palmer, vice president of marketing at Vantage, praised Cloud for ensuring this story had a happy ending.
“It’s hard enough when you lose your credit or debit card but there are ways to minimize any monetary losses by calling right away to report it. But to lose actual cash, that’s heartbreaking,” Palmer told Chesterfield Patch. “For us it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack but we were very happy to be able to connect her to Mr. Glueck and help her regain her lost money.”