Learn more about how WESTconsin Credit Union has made a difference in the lives of those who know us best, our members! Through our unique Member Stories series, members just like you proudly share why they have come to count on WESTconsin in featured messages. Through these encounters, we’ve discovered so many wonderful and unique aspects about the members of WESTconsin Credit Union as well as the employees who caringly serve them.
Here at WESTconsin, we strive to give a personal and positive touch to the work we do with and for our credit union members. It’s about doing what we can to support the things that are important to you.
Your stories inspire us and can inspire others, too!
Click on each photo to view their stories. Mobile users: tap hyperlinks to view videos on YouTube
Cindy Leonard: Founder of the Sharing Tree in Hudson
Cindy Leonard’s family founded the Hudson Sharing Tree in 2002 after an encounter Cindy had with a custodian in Stillwater, Minnesota, who was registering his kids for school supplies in their local Sharing Tree program.
“On his registration I saw that he was a Hudson resident, and we couldn’t serve him,” She recalls. “I promised him that this program would be in Hudson the following year, and it was.”
The Sharing Tree is a school supply program for students that attend schools in the Hudson School District. It provides everything from pencils and color markers all the way up to backpacks and calculators, and Cindy has teamed with WESTconsin Credit Union in Hudson to acquire, store, and distribute the supplies.
WESTconsin’s commitment to us, by allowing me to have storeroom space, probably saves me $1,600, a year,” Cindy says. “And that’s not to mention the time they give volunteering.”
Chuck Bomar and Julie Keown-Bomer: “Anytime We Can Be Outside is a Pretty Good Day.”
Chuck Bomar is a Dean at UW-Stout, and Julie Keown-Bomar is an administrator for the University of Wisconsin Extension program—yet both of these educators will gladly admit they are still learning.
Chuck is a big fan of online banking, and appreciates the fact that he can pay bills and monitor their WESTconsin account without a single trip to the mailbox.
Julie’s job means a lot of driving. She researched and purchased a reliable vehicle and, while closing the sale, agreed to the dealership’s expedient financing through a large bank, rather than securing a loan through WESTconsin Credit Union, where they have been members for many years.
“It turned out to be a nightmare,” Julie recalls. “They accused me of not making payments and they treated me like a criminal!”
Julie turned to WESTconsin, where she and Chuck already had multiple home and refinancing loans, and was able to resolve the situation—and transfer the car loan to the credit union—in just a matter of days. Lesson learned!
Andrew and Laurentia McIntosh: Welcome to Wise Acres
When the McIntoshes wanted to refinance their log home and property—which they have dubbed “Wise Acres”—the bank that held their mortgage disappointed them immediately with what seemed to be a turtle-pace procedure.
“The process just kept getting longer and longer,” Laurentia remembers. “It was very frustrating and I’d lost my patience.”
The final straw came when their original lender concluded that, because they rented a small portion of their property to a local farmer, they could not qualify for refinancing because it was “income producing property.”
Andrew picked a name from the WESTconsin Credit Union website, and it turned out that mortgage loan specialist Jordi Buchner was a neighbor of theirs. She lived on a small hobby farm as well and was well acquainted with the issues they needed to tackle.
The McIntoshes got their loan, and got it fast. WESTconsin uses local underwriters with intimate knowledge of regional issues—quite a contrast with the anonymous, national underwriters that Andrew and Laurentia struggled with earlier.
Laurentia sums it up: “Instead of feeling like we were falling through the cracks with a large corporation, we had these people who knew exactly what we needed and were able to make it happen within weeks. I love banking with WESTconsin Credit Union because they are our friends and our neighbors.”
For Nathan and Julie Mitchell, WESTconsin Credit Union has been a welcome companion on their ongoing professional journey.
Julie’s dad, a credit union member, co-signed for her first loan, which helped finance beauty school. Three years later, at 22, she used another WESTconsin loan to purchase The Hair Company salon.
“It was just shortly after I started in the beauty industry that I felt like, yeah, this is what I want to do – let’s see how far I can go!”
Recently another phase of Nathan and Julie’s plan reached fruition when they opened the brand new Hair Company salon building in New Richmond, with the help of a WESTconsin loan. “All of our guests, when they come in, their eyes light up – they love our new location,” Julie says.
Julie strives to maintain a positive and nurturing atmosphere for the women who work in her salon. They recently visited a local nursing home together and set up for the day to visit and give the ladies manicures.
“Their nails looked great,” Julie reports, “but I think they enjoyed the visit and the company more than anything. We’ll definitely be doing that again.”
“Everyone knows everyone in Hudson,” Peg Gabriel recalls. “But we didn’t know anyone when we moved here from Minnesota.”
That didn’t last long, of course. “We saw WESTconsin Credit Union, which was less than a mile from our house, and when we walked in it was like we knew everyone—they were so friendly!” Peg says.
“We have a lot of accounts at WESTconsin,” Mike reports. “Mortgage for our cabin, checking account, savings accounts, Visa cards, certificates and we use direct deposit.”
Recently retired, Mike and Peg are enjoying their cabin, grandchildren, and lots of travel. “We mentioned to Lori, who works at the credit union, that we were going to Disneyland with our grandkids,” says Peg. “And she said, ‘Oh, are you using your points from your Visa card?’ That’s how we learned about CU Rewards.” They quickly earned enough CU Rewards points for a free flight to Phoenix.
“I use online banking at the cabin,” says Peg. “And when I recently retired, there was a lot of paperwork that I was able to do right from the cabin with the credit union, and it was very, very convenient, and they’re always willing to help if you call the 800 number.”
Patricia Owen: Ensuring a “Home Base” for Her Family
It’s an unfortunate fact of financial life for many women whose accounts are with traditional banks: upon divorce or the death of their spouse, they are shocked to learn that they have no credit history of their own.
This was the case with Patricia Owen, a librarian with the Washington County Library, after her divorce. Her two children were getting old enough to think about college. “I felt I needed to have a home base for the kids to come back to if they needed it,” Patricia says. “But when I walked into my bank where we had several mortgage loans, I was immediately told ‘no’ because of my situation.”
Then she met Lisa at WESTconsin Credit Union. “She was very much ‘Yes—yes we can work with you,’” Patricia recalls. “She listened to my ideas; she answered my questions and came up with solutions to any ideas that I brought up, always working with me to make what I needed to have happen, happen for me.”
Patricia also appreciated the fact that they could do most of the work online, eliminating a 25-mile drive. “Even though I live in Minnesota, Wisconsin is not that far away,” she says. “I’m willing to drive a little bit to get the great service that I get at WESTconsin Credit Union. It’s really worth it.”
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