“Let Your Faith be Greater than Your Fear”
Self-Help staff and members pause for a photo during the 2018 annual meeting.
Last week more than 100 members and supporters joined staff for the Self-Help Credit Union annual meeting – the best Self-Help CU annual meeting in our entire history.
Okay, maybe we say that every year. But this year was extra special because of the stories our members shared.
For example, we heard from Davisha McDonald, a medical worker and single mother who was reluctant to even apply for a home loan because she was sure the answer would be no. Her sister urged her on, saying “Let your faith be greater than your fear.” Davisha put her fears aside and approached Self-Help. After closing on her home last month, she’s still pinching herself. “Even now, being in my home, I ask—Is this real? I’m opening different doors. I’m building wealth for my girls. I feel like I can do anything now.”
We heard from Stephanie Terry, a marketing professional and community organizer, who spent several years struggling to make a catering business work. She didn’t think she would qualify for a loan to develop her business, but after getting mentoring and support at Self-Help, she closed on a loan that allowed her to hire staff and get her own kitchen space. Now her business, Sweeties Southern & Vegan Catering, is thriving. “They say it was a small business loan. It was big to me … It has been transforming.”
Stephanie Terry, left, owner of Sweeties Southern & Vegan Catering, and Latoyia Boria, Self-Help Area Manager, speak at our annual meeting.
We viewed a short video about an entrepreneur in eastern North Carolina, Steven Ceccarelli, who had a vision for distributing North Carolina sweet potatoes to meet growing demand in Europe. With a Self-Help loan, his business has created 100 new jobs in an area where jobs are scarce.
And in an amazing surprise, an unexpected guest asked to speak. Bishop Roger Green drove through the rain all the way from Charlotte just to express appreciation. He read an eloquent letter of thanks to a Self-Help staff member Teresa Scarlett in Greenville (NC), who helped him out of a difficult financial situation.
Self-Help CU President, Randy Chambers, reported that Self-Help’s lending, including home lending, has grown significantly this year. In the first nine months of 2018, we closed more home loans than during all of last year. He noted that we’ve had two recent mergers that have taken Self-Help CU into South Carolina. We now have two branches in Columbia and one in Greenville, SC.
Randy also discussed Self-Help’s response to Hurricane Florence, which caused massive damage in eastern North Carolina and affected many of our members. He said that so far we have provided loan relief to 20 homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments as a result of the storm. We also are offering special Disaster Relief loans to help members make repairs and recover.
Our CEO, Martin Eakes, wrapped it up by talking about Self-Help CU’s geographic growth, partnerships and more. He said that he expects to gradually expand our areas of service in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. One special highlight was the announcement that Self-Help has implemented a minimum wage of $15 an hour ahead of our planned schedule. He was also pleased to highlight a recent victory in Colorado, where 77% of voters were in favor of placing a 36% cap on interest rates for small loans.
In his comments, Martin acknowledged the great difficulties that we are now experiencing as a nation, including what he terms as “corrosive” economic inequality. “We have to figure out how to engage on these problems,” he said. He raised the possibility that basic human kindness may be part of the solution. “I’m certain that you can’t fight hate with more hate. I’m just as certain that you can’t be silent or passive in the face of hate. We have to figure out how our resistance can be kind.”
We appreciate this wisdom and all the wisdom we gain from our members every day. During this Thanksgiving week, we are grateful for the members who shared their stories with us and for ALL of our members everywhere who support our mission and trust us with their funds. Thanks so much, and happy Thanksgiving to all!