The Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (SCCCU) officially opened its first branch in downtown Santa Cruz on August 16, 1977, 45 years ago. What started as a way to provide credit and financial services to low- and middle-income residents of Santa Cruz County has grown into a $184 million financial cooperative with more than 14,000 members. SCCCU currently has three branches – Santa Cruz, Soquel and Watsonville – and has been certified as a low-income financial and community development institution for over 25 years. In fact, SCCCU was one of the first credit unions in the country to become a CDFI* and is well known throughout the country.
“The founders of Credit Union developed one guiding principle, which is to improve the quality of life for all members of our community, especially those without a voice. We still live by this principle every day. We believe in empowering those who have been marginalized by the status quo. This is the lens we use before doing anything at Credit Union.
— Beth Carr, president and CEO of SCCCU and board member of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz
And together with the community, SCCCU has achieved remarkable achievements in maintaining an unwavering commitment to its mission to promote economic justice for all.
“Our employees are focused on helping our members, no matter where they live. We really care about how to help members gain financial confidence. We talk about it all the time. »
— Katie Fairbairn, vice president of communications and organizational development and board member of Second Harvest in Watsonville
With more than 50 employees, Credit Union provides much-needed affordable financial services to Santa Cruz County and North Monterey County. These employees live and work in these communities and feel good about helping where they can.
“What sets SCCCU apart from other financial institutions is that we give community members a second chance with their financial needs,” explained Sylvia Sanchez, SCCCU Director of BSA and Compliance and Board Member of Pajaro Valley Shelter Services. “Some members of our community are not able to open a bank account or get a loan approved at other financial institutions because in the past they had problems with their credit. The SCCCU is different. We take the time to get to know our community members and their financial needs so that we can give them a second chance when they need it most.
It’s not just about offering products. It’s about taking care of the individual.
According to many veteran Credit Union employees, it’s not just about offering products that make a difference to members. Kim Love, Soquel Branch Manager, has worked at the SCCCU for over eight years. She remembers helping a member get a car loan who had just divorced and was recovering from cancer. “She had no idea about her finances and hadn’t seen her credit report in years, and she had worked for the same employer for over 20 years,” Love explained. “I was able to help her get a new car loan, a new Visa card and her own checking and savings accounts. First she cried, then I cried – it was great to help her get a fresh start.
Marie Eggleston, Electronic Services Manager, shared that over the past 13 years, she has been able to help members in many different ways. But one of his favorite memories was stopping a very large retailer from taking punitive damages against a member of the SCCCU for a payment the retailer failed to process properly.
“Because I work in a relatively small credit union, I don’t feel there are many barriers to recognition and the ability to help our fellow human beings. What we do here every day is help each other.
— Marie Eggleston, Electronic Services Manager
“One of my favorite memories over the past 10 years at SCCCU is helping a member refinance his auto loan with a predatory lender,” explained Everardo Munoz, Vice President of Member Services. “He was an ITIN borrower who had purchased a vehicle a few months prior and had signed a loan with a high rate (18% APR**). We refinanced the loan at a lower rate (5% APR), which reduced his payments from $200 to $300 per month. The member was very grateful because he has a young child whom he regularly drives to Stanford Hospital for medical care. The monthly savings have had a significant impact on his budget This member still walks into the Watsonville branch looking for me.
For over 45 years, SCCCU has changed many lives for the better
Over the past 45 years, the SCCCU has served many members and changed people’s lives for the better. As Credit Union looks to the next 45 years, it will continue to reach out to the unbanked and underserved in new and unique ways. But one thing is certain: the personal touch of Credit Union employees will always be part of its future success.
“Coming from working at a large financial institution, I quickly learned that as a local credit union, we have so much more to offer our members. I love our members and the satisfaction of knowing that we offer unique products that truly benefit our community. SCCCU is also a unique place to work – I love my work family! »
— Sandra Magana, Watsonville Branch Manager
SCCCU’s 45th anniversary is a milestone to celebrate
“As we move forward into 2022, the year of our 45th anniversary, we will continue to remember the depth of our history and our founding members. We are absolutely committed to providing affordable services to those without a voice and those who are struggling,” Carr said. “Whether through ITIN loans, our new LIFT loan program (a safe alternative to payday loans), our unique mobile home loan program, or helping cannabis businesses with deposit services safely, our mission remains the same: to help promote economic justice for all.”
“Throughout 2022 you will learn more about how we plan to celebrate our 45th anniversary,” Fairbairn explained. “We hope our members and the community at large will celebrate with us throughout the year.”
*The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, or CDFI fundswas created by the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994. The objective of the CDFI Fund is to promote economic revitalization and community development in low-income communities through investments and assistance to CDFIs.
**APR = annual percentage rate