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Editor's Note: The following is a compilation of true lending stories from the loan officers of Heritage CU. HCU's Cindy Sutherland compiles these stories and then e-mails them out to the credit union's entire workforce to remind employees what the credit union is all about and why the work they do-even if they are not loan officers-is important. The new corporate e-mail, entitled "The Credit Union Difference," always ends with the message: "It's nice to help a member who needs it. That's the credit union difference."

Shelly Meyers, Rockford, Ill., branch on State Street.

In August of 2001, I had a member come in to apply for a truck loan. The couple had a lot of credit problems due to her being in an automobile accident and him being laid off from work. Unfortunately, we were not able to help them at that time. I did discuss their credit reports with them and we talked about what they needed to do to improve their credit (this was before creditwise).

They continued to come in to see me about every six months to a year to discuss their credit. In July of 2003, though they still had some credit problems, we were able to help them with a secured loan. They were thrilled! They continued to work on the credit problems and have now been approved for a Premiere Visa with us and they are shopping for a new vehicle.

Today I received a Valentine card from them, thanking me for all of my help.

From the Sturtevant Branch

I had a member who needed the money to see her son [who] is in the military. She had a credit rating score of 614 but had a bankruptcy and no new credit since.

Heritage Credit Union gave her the loan. She cried when she was leaving the office, and said we were the only place that would even talk to her.

From the State Street Branch

We just approved a $500 Classic Visa for a woman trying to establish credit. She had applied for a Premiere Visa when she opened her account last week. She is 30ish with no credit history. About 10 years ago she had some medical problems that resulted in collections. She got them paid so they are off her CB, but has never been able to get more "good" credit. She's been with Associated Bank for years and they wouldn't give her a small loan.

Bottom line-she LOVES US. Her exact words. She was very appreciative of the fact we were willing to get her started again.

Dee Campbell, Chetek, Wis. branch

A couple of weeks ago, I had a young Amish couple come into my office to inquire about a real estate loan. They wanted to purchase 10 acres of land to build a home on in the future. I explained our mortgage loans to them and further explained that some loans require 20% down.

The couple said they did not have $4,000 to get the loan. I told them I would talk with our mortgage department to see what other types of mortgages would be available to them.

When the couple came back a few days later they had $4,000 cash they received from an elder. So that problem was solved, but since they are Amish they have no reportable income. They do not have a Social Security Number nor a driver's license and no monthly bills equals no credit. I submitted the application to see if we could help them in any way.

Their application was approved! Their mortgage closed and they are now considering opening a checking account with us.

Lisa Anderson, Chetek, Wis. branch

I had one of our newer members come into the credit union because she was about at her wits' end. Her husband got cancer about six years ago. Four and a half years ago he succumbed to the cancer which left her with a lot of bills that were not covered by insurance. She tried to crawl out of debt, but was not able to on her own. When this member came to me, her credit score had dropped to the D level. We were able to help this member with our new HELOC program that allows us to service D and E scores.

I was able to get her approved for a $20,000 HELOC to pay off her medical bills and the delinquencies that had subsequently arose. We also were able to pay off her Chevy Blazer. Her payments on her vehicle alone were $568 a month.

Now her HELOC payments will be only $300 per month. She was so happy to get things straightened out. She said she felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

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