In 2020, Self-Help focused on Payment Protection Program loans to provide relief to small businesses and nonprofits.
In a year that’s been like no other, Self-Help’s 2020 virtual annual meeting was like no other in our history. We missed the physical presence of our members, friends and board members—the hugs, the pre-meeting chats and sharing a simple meal. On the positive side, we are happy that more people could participate. More than 150 members and friends joined us online as we conducted annual Self-Help business and looked back on a year that was far from routine.
In the meeting, we recognized the hardships that our members and communities are facing as the COVID pandemic continues. We celebrated the COVID financial relief that Self-Help was able to provide to small businesses and nonprofits. We lifted up the possibilities for collaboration even during a time of deep division. And we celebrated 40 years of service with partners and friends.
Lew Myers hosted this year's meeting, and board chair La-Tasha Best-Gaddy directed the business meeting.
Huge appreciation to Lewis Myers, who hosted the meeting. Lew currently chairs the Center for Community Self-Help’s board of directors and is a long-time advisor and friend.
Lew welcomed guests and kicked off the meeting with a special anniversary video showing an abbreviated timeline of key milestones in Self-Help’s history. (Be sure to view the complete, interactive timeline posted on our website.)
Board Elections and Year in Review
La-Tasha Best-Gaddy, current chair of the Self-Help Credit Union Board, conducted the business portion of the meeting. After approving last year’s minutes, members elected the following board members:
Ed Byron, Laura Jackson, Ivan Parra, Doris Asbury, Tom King and Natalie Williams
Prior to the meeting, Self-Help staff had elected Latoyia Boria as the worker-member Board representative.
Randy Chambers, President of Self-Help Credit Union, began his annual update by describing measures that Self-Help CU has taken to help protect staff and member during the pandemic while also continuing service to members. In addition to implementing health precautions, we also have supported members by offering reduced fees and forbearance on loans and taking measures to make it even easier for members to access cash and make larger withdrawals.
Self-Help Credit Union President, Randy Chambers
Randy presented a positive financial report, saying that Self-Help has maintained a healthy net worth in spite of a drop in income this year. He noted that we have been able to set aside more funds to cover any future losses. “We want to be there for our members when they need us,” he said.
Randy said that Self-Help CU’s growth has been possible through mergers—most recently with Turbine Federal Credit Union in Greenville, SC and First Legacy Community Credit Union in Charlotte, NC—and through member deposits.
“The support we’ve received from the community these past six months has been remarkable,” Randy concluded. “Because of you, we’re growing.”
COVID Relief – 2020 PPP Loans
Karen O’Mansky, Self-Help’s director of commercial programs, presented an overview of our Payment Protection Program lending, which was part of an economic relief package passed by Congress last March. The program was extended through early August this year. As a certified Small Business Administration SBA-504 lender, Self-Help was positioned to offer relief loans through the program. We had to mobilize quickly to ramp up PPP lending to small businesses and nonprofits that needed it—an effort that ultimately involved more than 150 people throughout the Self-Help organization.
Karen noted that two-thirds of our PPP loans went to nonprofits providing key services in their communities. The loans that went to businesses went to businesses in need. “We wanted to make sure we reached out to truly small businesses,” Karen said. “Our average loan size was about $21,000.” See the results of our PPP lending here.
Via video, we heard directly from two PPP borrowers:
Rosa Daniels and Dana Myers, a mother and daughter who co-own the Main Street Bakery & Gift Shop in Columbia, South Carolina, discussed the business crisis they faced when the COVID pandemic struck and how a PPP loan was a lifeline.
Reverend Richard Joyner who runs the Conetoe Family Life Center in eastern North Carolina, discussed the specific stresses he faced and how Self-Help staff helped him navigate the loan application process.
Why Deposits Matter: Comments from Brady Quirk-Garvan
We greatly appreciated video comments from Brady Quirk-Garvan, a member who leads Business Development and Operations for Money with a Mission, a socially-responsible investing firm. Brady, who has been a personal Self-Help depositor for seven years, says he was drawn by our mission. “We’re stronger when we’re able to unite our dollars and lend them to build a better community.”
Tribute to Andrea Harris
In May, the Self-Help community, North Carolina and the nation suffered a terrible loss with the passing of Ms. Andrea Harris. Ms. Harris, who was serving as a Senior Fellow at Self-Help at the time of her passing, began her public service at age 23 in Henderson as a director of a community action agency. She went on to provide strong, thoughtful leadership and advocacy for many years, including in her role as the head of the NC Institute of Minority Economic Development.
Lew Myers and Farad Ali, Self-Help board member and business/community leader, both offered their personal tributes to Ms. Harris’s remarkable life. Farad, who worked with Ms. Harris for almost two decades, named her as a “servant-leader and collaborator,” and noted that she was “fearless in speaking truth to power.”
Martin Eakes, Self-Help CEO, said that Ms. Harris “may be the most remarkable person I’ve ever met in my life.”
As part of the tribute, we also showed some video clips of an interview Ms. Harris did in recent years in which she talked about the importance of reaching out to people who don’t agree with you and the value of collaborating.
Concluding Remarks from Martin
Martin began by discussing the current pandemic situation and showing hospitalization data. Hospitalizations on November 15 are higher than they were in April. Unfortunately, Martin said, “We’re not finished. We’re not even in the final stages.” He said Self-Help’s number one priority will continue to be to help protect the health and safety of staff and members through this crisis.
Our second priority will be managing our home loans, including loans we have supported in the secondary market. We will work very hard to help homeowners who are struggling with loan modifications and other loan workouts. He noted that we have been very successful in helping families achieve ownership, and “we don’t want to undo all the gains.”
Martin said that we as a nation are dealing with four distinct crises now: the COVID pandemic, which is disproportionately hitting people of color. A deep recession, in which the unemployment rate is double for African Americans and Latinos. A reckoning on racial injustice, as George Floyd’s brutal death triggered demonstrations and an intense national conversation about systemic racism. And an election, which shows that as a nation “we are horribly divided.”
Martin echoed Andrea Harris’s comments about the vital importance of seeking to reach out and collaborate.
“It’s a time of struggle and reconciliation,” Martin said. “What I feel like I’ve learned: We have to reach out and build coalitions with people or else we can’t accomplish anything. None of us is strong enough to do it alone . . . We need to put more time and support in community organization efforts that will hold government officials accountable.”
As he wrapped up the meeting, he gave a final assurance: “We at Self-Help will continue to stand up for those who don’t have a full voice.”