Credit Union finds holiday home in cop shop

Pomona, California
It’s hard to contemplate closing your credit union during Christmas week, but if there is going to be no electricity, what can you do?

For CalPoly Federal Credit Union — located on a California university campus that was re-wiring and shutting off electricity while students were home on break — it meant getting creative and finding a “relocation on a dime” solution.

From Dec. 27 to Dec. 30, the credit union would be without power and with members in need of access.  Faculty, staff, students and former students all were expecting their credit union to be open for business even if the University wasn’t.

“It was an interesting problem,” said CEO Barbara Bean.  “Not everyone is eager to go the distance for you during Christmas week when there are so many other things going on.”

But CalPoly has some unique relationships forged through the philosophy of credit unions helping credit unions helping members.  Even their data processor, a Credit Union Owned Service Organization, was there to offer a seamless transition of technology.

The campus police – most of whom are members of the almost 3000-member credit union — have an emergency generator and offered the five-person credit union a home for the holidays.  Nearby Inland Valley Credit Union also offered a workstation at their facility and since both credit unions use the same core processor, it was simple.

“We both use CU*NorthWest for data processing and the software lends itself to these kinds of collaborative efforts,” said Chuck Papenfus, CEO at Inland Valley.  “There was no moving of computers or re-loading software or anything like that.  They just came and logged in through the Network Community.”

The technology piece of this puzzle was the easy piece, Bean agreed.  “CU*NorthWest made it look easy.  We could access our member’s data, print out receipts, create and fund loans, run reports and cut checks – virtually anything the member needed.  The bottom line is our members were served.”

Uniquely served, that is.  The police station has a certain atmosphere, Bean explained.  “We spoke to members through a buzzer at the dispatcher window.  We had donuts every day and the police escorted our members in.  It was really quite fun.”

Because they had effectively gotten the word out about the temporary relocation, members made an extra effort to check it out, Bean said.  “That Friday was payday and we had lines,” she said.  “Even people who normally use our online banking features from their computer or smart phone, stopped in to see us.  I think everyone enjoyed the novelty of visiting their money at the cop shop,” she said.

“The Christmas spirit brought out some really good collaboration,” she added with a smile.