Montana has a large population of federal employees, and Clearwater Credit Union sees that reflected in our membership. As Montana’s second-largest credit union and its largest Community Development Financial Institution serving more than 50,000 members, Clearwater took swift action to implement several assistance offerings for our friends and neighbors experiencing the strain of the shutdown.
Seeing the impact of the federal government shutdown on its employees, the Missoula International Airport decided to act. In order to connect furloughed TSA workers with community resources available to them, airport leadership invited local organizations including Clearwater Credit Union to attend a lunch event with its employees on Friday, January 18, 2019.
Brandi McKnight, Brian Fitzgerald, Carrie Schuster, and Kathy O’Masters were in attendance to meet with those seeking help. While at the event, they met one of Clearwater’s newest members, a TSA agent by the name of Randall. After contacting his bank of 15 years, Randall was stunned to discover there was no assistance they could offer a long-time customer like himself. Hearing about our furloughed employee loan, Randall then walked across the street and opened an account at Clearwater where he was approved for our furloughed employee loan that same day.
Responding to a community in need
In January of 2019, Clearwater loan servicing teams began exercising maximum sensitivity and flexibility when collecting loan payments. Waiving late fees, allowing skipped loan payments, and pushing loan extension and forbearance options as far as possible.
Clearwater also began offering an emergency loan for federal employees with the maximum amount available to those affected equal to 1 month’s gross pay, up to $5,000, with no payments required for the first 90 days.
Another service available for Clearwater members is the ability to meet with Clearwater’s full-time financial counselor. This service is always available and always free to our members. With the help of our full-time financial counselor, members can work through some of the economic challenges and trade-offs they face with thoughtful, personalized, free one-on-one help.
Since announcing the Clearwater emergency loan for government employees impacted by the shutdown, it is estimated that 3 to 5 inquiries were received daily and that the number of loans approved reached double digits within the first week of the program.
We have a mission, which is to be a force for good in banking and in the lives of our members and we see this as a very mission-driven activity, to try to help our members get through this period of financial pain.— Jack Lawson, President & CEO