Santa Cruz Community Credit Union celebrates 45 years of helping members achieve financial goals
Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (SCCCU) officially opened its first branch in Downtown Santa Cruz on August 16, 1977—45 years ago. What began as a way to provide credit and financial services to low and moderate income residents of Santa Cruz County has expanded into a $184 million financial cooperative with over 14,000 members. SCCCU currently has three branches—Santa Cruz, Soquel, and Watsonville—and has been certified as a low-income and Community Development Financial Institution for over 25 years. In fact, SCCCU was one of the first credit unions in the nation to become a CDFI* and is well-known nationwide.
“The founders of the Credit Union crafted a guiding principle, which is to improve the quality of life for everyone in our community, especially those without a voice. We still live by this principle every day. We believe in empowering those who the status quo has marginalized. That is the lens we use before we do anything at the Credit Union.”
— Beth Carr, President/CEO of SCCCU and board member of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz
And together with the community, SCCCU has attained remarkable achievements by maintaining a steadfast commitment to its mission to promote economic justice for all.
“Our employees are focused on helping our members, no matter what their walk of life may be. We genuinely care about how to help members gain financial confidence. We talk about it all the time.”
— Katie Fairbairn, VP of Communications and Organizational Development and board member of Second Harvest in Watsonville
Making a difference in the community one member at a time
With over 50 employees, the 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 makes SCCCU different from other financial institutions is 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 of our community members are not able to open a bank account or get a loan approved at other financial institutions because, in the past, they have had challenges with their credit. SCCCU is different. We take the time to get to know our community members and their financial needs so that we’re able to give them a second chance when they need it most.”
It’s not just about offering products. It’s about caring for the individual.
According to many of the Credit Union’s more seasoned employees, it’s more than just offering products that make a difference to the members. Kim Love, Soquel Branch Manager, has worked at SCCCU for over eight years. She remembers helping a member get an auto loan who was recently divorced and recovering from cancer. “She had no idea what her finances were like and had not seen her credit report in years, and she had been at her same employer for over 20 years,” explained Love. “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 felt awesome helping her get a fresh start.”
Marie Eggleston, E-Services Manager, shared that over the past 13 years, she’s been able to help members in many different ways. But one of her favorite memories was stopping a very large retailer from taking punitive damages against an SCCCU member for a payment the retailer failed to process correctly.
“Because I work at a relatively small credit union, it doesn’t feel like there are a lot of barriers to recognizing and being able to assist our fellow human beings. What we do here every day is help each other.”
— Marie Eggleston, E-Services Manager
“One of my favorite memories over the past 10 years at SCCCU is helping a member refinance his auto loan from a predatory lender,” explained Everardo Munoz, VP of Member Services. “He was an ITIN borrower who had purchased a vehicle a few months prior and signed a loan with a high rate (18% APR**). We refinanced the loan at a lower rate (5% APR), which reduced his payments by $200-$300 a month. The member was very appreciative as he has a young child he regularly drives to Stanford Hospital for medical attention. The monthly savings made 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, SCCCU has served many members and changed people’s lives for the better. As the 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 sure: the Credit Union employees’ personal touch will always be a part of its future success.
“Coming from working at a bigger financial institution, I learned quickly that as a local credit union, we have so much more to offer our members. I love our members and the satisfaction of knowing we offer some unique products that truly benefit our community. SCCCU is a unique place to work as well—I love my work family!”
— Sandra Magana, Watsonville Branch Manager
SCCCU’s 45th anniversary is a milestone to celebrate
“As we move into 2022—our 45th Anniversary Year--we’ll continue to remember the depth of our history and our founding membership. We are absolutely committed to bringing affordable services to those without a voice and to those who are struggling,” stated Carr. “Whether it’s through ITIN lending, our recently new LIFT Loan program (a safe, payday loan alternative), our unique mobile home loan program, or helping Cannabis businesses with safe deposit services, our mission remains the same—help promote economic justice for all.”
“Throughout 2022, you’ll see more about how we plan to celebrate our 45th Anniversary,” explained Fairbairn. “We hope our members and the community as a whole will celebrate with us throughout the year.”
*The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, or CDFI Fund, was established by the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994. The CDFI Fund’s purpose is to promote economic revitalization and community development in low-income communities through investment in and assistance to CDFIs.
**APR = Annual Percentage Rate