Redwood Credit Union: Serving Members in Both Good and Bad Times
By Cyndi Cohen Credit Unions Online
Credit Union Spotlight
Redwood Credit Union (Santa Rosa, CA) was founded in 1950 by 7 employees of the County of Sonoma who wanted to provide each other with affordable loans and a safe place to save their money. Over time, the demand for their services grew and the financial co-op changed their name to Redwood Credit Union, reflecting the broader community they were serving.
Fast forward to 2012, RCU has surpassed $2 billion in assets, and now serves over 220,000 members as well as 5,000 local businesses in the North Bay and San Francisco and more than 350 Select Employee Groups (SEGs). Members can access their accounts easily with 18 branch locations, convenient online services, and at more than 28,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide through the CO-OP Network.
According to Traci Thylin Bocci, Senior Communications Specialist, Redwood Credit Union offers a full spectrum of financial services including checking, savings, certificates and money market accounts, home and auto loans, credit cards, investment and financial planning services, free online banking and bill pay, as well as insurance services and new and used auto sales through their CUSO. Plus, RCU is a community chartered credit union with membership open to anyone who lives, works or owns a business in San Francisco or the 7 North Bay counties of Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Mendocino, Solano, Contra Costa and Lake.
An Award-Winning Credit Union, All Around
For all of its valuable product and service offerings coupled with a commitment to member education and financial literacy as well as community giving, RCU has been the recipient of some impressive accolades.
“We were recently named Best Company to Do Business With for the 3rd year in a row and Best Credit Union for the 7th year in a row by the readers of North Bay Business Magazine, a local business publication serving Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties,” says Bocci. The credit union has also been named Best Place to Work for 6 consecutive years by the North Bay Business Journal, another local publication.
It is no surprise that RCU has been honored with these distinctions. In addition to providing members with affordable and easily accessible financial solutions, the credit union and its employees are also dedicated to supporting the community at large with countless local efforts and events.
Bocci says that with the large geographic area RCU serves and the impact the recession has had on non-profits, over the past few years, RCU has refined its community giving program guidelines to ensure the following:
focus on serving the greatest needs of the communities
providing local support in the communities where RCU branches has branches
positively impacting the largest number of people
when possible, favoring social safety net issues such as food, housing, and family support in order to help build stronger communities
RCU also places importance on giving employees choices, so two of the largest community efforts they participate in each year are the Human Race and the United Way Campaign, which allow employees to designate their funds raised to the non-profit of their choice. “In 2011, the staff and officials of Redwood Credit Union spent more than 3,800 hours volunteering in our communities and participated in more than 480 events,” reports Bocci. This includes everything from participating in local non-profit fundraisers and volunteer efforts, to representing RCU at local chamber events, parades and festivals.
With all of RCU’s efforts, credit union members and community members agree that their neighborhood credit union is tops. Bocci says that community response is overwhelmingly positive as she proudly relays stories of members cheering “I love RCU!” at local events and even waving their RCU debit and credit cards at credit union volunteers, from the sidelines, to show their support.
They receive many letters of thanks and recognition awards from the local non-profits they support. “People often remark, ‘You guys are everywhere!’ and so we try to support as many community efforts as we can each year, since we are honored that people have this perception of us,” contends Bocci.
Passionate About People
Entrenched in genuine credit union philosophy, RCU’s mission is to “passionately serve the best interests of our members, employees and communities.” In essence, helping people is at the core of everything that everyone at RCU does.
While those at RCU have always been focused on service, their commitment has never been more apparent than during the past few years as they’ve helped members weather this challenging economic climate. “By closely listening to each Member’s unique financial situation, we have been able to help thousands of members to keep their homes and cars, establish a household budget, and gain financial well-being,” explains Bocci.
In addition to everything they do on a daily basis for their members, RCU has also maintained a strong community giving program throughout the recession, and continued to support local non-profits with volunteerism, fundraising and sponsorships when many others ceased.
They never stopped helping those less fortunate, despite economic conditions. With their doors having always been open to anyone in need of financial help, regardless of their situation, they are there to help people find financial peace of mind so they can enjoy life. “We have had particular success ‘serving the underserved’ when it comes to our local businesses - when other lenders pulled back during the recession, we never did, and our focus has always been the smaller local businesses (those with less than $5 million) which are the cornerstones of our local economy,” says Bocci.
RCU has also continued to respect member opinion, growing and evolving based on members’ suggestions and requests. Once again, with members at the forefront of everything they do, they are always asking for member feedback through a variety of surveys and other channels, and using that information to make improvements to service and product offerings. “This month we will be introducing a new look and feel for our website based on our members’ requests, and we’ll also be introducing enhanced online banking features and mobile banking later this summer, based on member demand,” notes Bocci.
When asked to describe his credit union and its relationship with the local community, President & CEO Brett Martinez said that RCU is passionate, committed and focused on serving the best interests of its members, employees and communities, and genuinely wants to help people achieve their financial goals and dreams – both for themselves and for their businesses. “At the end of the day, we get to go home knowing we’ve truly made a difference in peoples’ lives, and that’s a great feeling.”