2020’S SILVER LININGS
This is a difficult year for most, to say the least. In this column, we’re going to give you a glimpse behind the curtain at our 2020 so that you can see not only how your credit union was impacted by everything that happened this year, but what we’ve learned and how we’ve changed because of it. We realize that how you experience the credit union typically means using online banking, our app, or having an interaction with one of our associates in a branch or over the phone. You probably never see or give much thought to what goes on behind the scenes. We’d like to share a little bit of that with you this month.
When the pandemic arrived, we navigated through an array of rapidly changing and sometimes conflicting health guidelines, quickly implementing safety measures for our members and staff, while simultaneously creating ways to assist those impacted financially. It was all uncharted territory. You may have noticed that we waived certain fees, offered loan payment deferrals, assisted with loan modifications, sent information about digital banking options, stepped-up cleaning efforts, required masks and distancing in branches, installed plexiglass shields, and even temporarily closed a branch.
What you didn’t see is that we began requiring daily temperature checks for our staff, relocated people within our offices to create distance, shuffled them around to departments where they were needed most, upgraded our air filtration systems, and enabled all of our back office employees to work from home – including member contact center employees. We even converted to paperless systems to facilitate working remotely and deliver faster loan processing. And by the way, thank you to those who participated in our survey to help us learn how we could better serve you during the pandemic as well as in the future.
Next, came civil unrest. Our challenge was serving members during a pandemic and curfews that seemed to change hourly, beefing up security and closing branches in the path of protests. We became even faster at texting and emailing to instantly let you know about changes in branch hours and availability. At the same time, we realized our challenges paled in comparison to the exhaustion and emotions our members were dealing with. So, we took steps – such as providing meals for police stations and handing out useful items and tokens of appreciation in branches – to help our members feel supported.
Now here’s one that you might not know about. On the morning of August 17, staff arrived at our Van Nuys office to find that over the weekend a second-story water supply line coupling failed, and our first floor was totally flooded. We had to close the branch for the day while crews began the restoration process. Once again, many of our employees had to be relocated. Our mortgage department was hit particularly hard by the upheaval, because it was extremely busy processing refinance applications sparked by low rates. But we were able to reopen the next day and fortunately the work-from-home and paperless measures we put in place previously allowed us to hardly skip a beat.
The events above prompted us to become nimbler and to quickly respond and adapt. We’ve become faster, more efficient, and more dynamic. But we also kept things in perspective. While all these events were happening, in the background we continued to work on key long-term initiatives that will position us to better serve you in the future. Because no matter what happens, we’ll always strive to bring you product and service improvements, and greater convenience.
By the way, this credit union with modest beginnings in 1936, when a few police officers took up a small collection and placed it in a shoebox, surpassed $1 billion in assets in 2020. We’re honored and humbled by your loyalty through the years, and the trust you’ve placed in us. With your support, we achieved this milestone despite the challenges this year brought us. It’s a silver lining that in a tough year, we’re able to continue growing so that we can do more to improve your financial wellbeing and quality of life. For that, we sincerely thank you.
Andre Plummer, Chair
Edwin W. Hada, President/CEO