Small Acts Lead To Big Results

Several years ago a member stopped me in the lobby of the our Dover Air Force Base Branch to thank me. I must have had a puzzled look on my face, because he asked if I remembered him, and I did not. He told me that 10 years prior to this I had "saved his life."

He went on to say that he was retired from the military at the time with a severe drinking problem and terrible credit. He came to Dover Federal for a small personal loan of $800, which I approved. He used the proceeds of that loan to purchase a PC and started his own computer business. He also quit drinking and became quite successful-all from a loan no one else would grant.

I also recall a young military family (with two toddlers) who was flying home from overseas on military hops, and was stranded at Dover AFB for several days with insufficient funds, so they came to us for help. Attempts through several sources, including wires from their bank, failed. Albert Schmidt, VP of operations, decided that we should give this young family a loan. However, we could not process this loan because they were not a member and did not have the $5 required membership share to open an account. Albert took $5 from his pocket and gave it to this young family who opened a membership, obtained a loan and took care of their family.

I posed Credit Union Journal's question about personal anecdotes from their career that sum up credit unions, and they shared these responses:

From Carole Langiu I recall that when Dover Federal introduced the Kids Making Cents Club, a member had brought her two children in to sign them up, and afterward she told me she was impressed with how I had opened the memberships for each child, speaking directly to them and explaining what we were doing each step of the way - even going with them to make their first deposit and introducing them to the teller.

"She thought that it was amazing that I took 'all' that time with her children and treated them as 'little adults.' She said she knew that if she had gone to a bank the person would have ignored the children and dealt only with the mother. She told me that further cemented her belief not only in Dover Federal, but in the credit union movement and she would never deal with a bank again."

From Gladie Brogan: "I had a member come into my office asking for a loan because he needed to move, as he was being evicted from his apartment. He really had no idea why, but I found out later that he smoked too much and the complex was putting him out for that reason. I called another apartment to see if they had anything available, which they did, and he went right over and put down the deposit. Now he needed someone to move him. After a week of looking, he still hadn't found anyone, so I called every mover I could find, seeking a company that wouldn't take advantage of him. I also helped to get his electric, phone and cable turned on."

David Clendaniel is CEO of Dover FCU, Delaware.

Personal Recollections of CUs: A CU Journal Series

To mark the 100th Anniversary of Credit Unions, Credit Union Journal is publishing "100 voices" answering, "The one personal anecdote from my credit union career that comes to my mind and which sums up what credit unions are all about is..." Wish to share your story?

E-mail fdiekmann@cujournal.com. Limit is 400 words.