Sherrie Brooks, CEO of $17 million asset Tennessee Employees Credit Union in Nashville, shares two poignant letters from members in need:
I had a loan with a local bank for a barn and equity line. Collateral was my farm and home. My husband lost his job and life changed for us.
My husband started working on our horse farm training horses. All seemed to be going pretty good until the economy got so bad. We were trying to keep all our bills paid and us above water, and trying not be late on my payments.
But, just like most people we had overspent all those years when everything was great.
Well, we were failing in our attempt to keep up. I received a letter from my bank stating that they were going to have to start foreclosure proceedings.
I called the bank to ask if there was any way that they could take my two loans and add them together and lengthen my time to pay them. They told me that they could not do that and that I really needed to contact someone in a program that the Obama Administration had [implemented].
Or, the bank suggested, was there someone I could borrow the money from?
It is very hard to ask for money to begin with, much less be told that you need to get the money from someone else, like a family member, which is what I was told. I never figured out what the Obama Administration had or who to contact. But I tried several other banks with no luck.
One of the loans would have been paid off in about 2.5 years, and the equity line would have been paid off in about five years. But the two loans together were $1,300 a month—and that did not include other bills we had incurred in the “good ole days.”
Even though I knew I was close to paying them off, I could not keep paying that much money. In my thinking it would have been more money for the bank because I would have to pay them more interest. But if I could get the two payments down to about $700, it would be wonderful for me. Well, that was my thinking.
I had been a member of my credit union since 1979. I contacted them and ask them if there was any way they could take my case. I have always used them for all my cars and small loans over the years.
They were happy to happy to work with me. We figured all my bills and added them all together and decided the best thing would be to pay them all off and only pay one bill.
And for a little more than $800, I can pay one payment and still have money to run my farm and live a normal life again. It will be 15 years of payments, but I was told that I could pay extra as I got the extra money and it would shorten my years.
The bank never once told me that. My credit union could have been just like the big banks, but they have a family attitude and look after their customers.
I made one call and they were on it. I had all the papers and all the information that was needed to get the loan in just a few days. I returned all the information completed and in less than a month I had my bills under control and a huge burden off of me.
I will never be able to express the appreciation I have for the people at my credit union. I never felt belittled or ashamed that I needed the money. Just a big relief.
Tough times made better
In 2003, the life I had worked so hard to make solid and stable for my family took a turn for the worse. My wife walked away from her family and turned to the streets. I found myself a single father raising four children.
I found out quickly that the love I had for my family was not enough. The bills were overwhelming my time… and the ride was a nightmare! It took me seven years to see any light.
I was hired at the Department of Human Services in 2009 and was introduced to the credit union when I needed help to make Christmas better for my family.
I used some of that loan money to help with my daughter’s senior dues as well. They took the payments out my check and I paid that loan off.
In 2010 I had another dilemma. I was paying rent for five years on my house and the owner of the house did not pay the mortgage company. It was a five-year lease and the lease was up.
I went to court and the lawyer gave me the number to the lien holder. He told me to make an offer and if I had financing he would take that in consideration. He didn’t believe—and truth be told I didn’t believe—I would come up with any money.
I called Sherry and I told her my situation, I thought she would say “you’re out of your mind” or “we don’t do that.” But she made me feel comfortable and she told me the steps I needed to take to make this happen.
With all the changes with the economy the credit union was the only one I could turn to for help. When I went to closing I felt proud when the lawyer asked if the money was in escrow and the secretary said yes! Yes!
When I signed those papers it was official: I was a homeowner again—thanks to the whole staff at the Tennessee Credit Union!