Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Congressman Neal Visits Greylock for Financial Literacy Insights

Congressman Neal Visits Greylock for Financial Literacy Insights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Chris Gregor
Greylock Federal Credit Union
March 20, 2018
413-236-4138

Congressman Neal Visits Greylock for Financial Literacy Insights

March 20, 2018 – Pittsfield, MA – On his most recent visit to Berkshire County, U.S. Congressman Richard Neal, met with representatives from Greylock Federal’s Board and Management team to discuss financial literacy and inclusion strategies. Neal expressed support for poverty-fighting federal programs like the US Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) program which recently granted Greylock $686,500. The grant supports Safety Net Loans, auto loans, and small business loans for low income, credit challenged, and financially stressed people. It also funds financial literacy and connects underserved people with health and human service agencies.

Greylock will use the CDFI grant funds to supplement roll-out of almost $8 million of “New Road” auto loans that help credit challenged borrowers avoid predatory car loans; $2 million in small business loans to create new jobs in Berkshire County; and $750,000 in Safety Net Loans, an alternative to expensive “Pay Day” loans. The grant funds are also supporting Greylock’s community development initiatives by training financial literacy coaches to meet the needs of the Credit Union’s membership and the community.

Greylock President & CEO John Bissell said, “We were delighted to meet with Rep. Neal to let him know how important his work in Washington D.C. is to our community and to share our stories about how we helped members with support from the CDFI grant. We appreciate the support from Rep. Neal for funding the CDFI program, which helps our organization make these types of loans to those who need them most.”

Vice President of Community Development Cindy Shogry-Raimer shared a story about a man with little cash in his account, poor credit, and no heat because he couldn’t afford to pay his past due gas bill. Shogry-Raimer got him the loan he needed at an affordable interest rate, and also enrolled him in a budget program with a financial coach to help develop a spending plan. “This loan would never be done in a traditional lending setting because the person involved was credit challenged. Having access to these loans is a life saver for many of our members,” Shogry-Raimer said.

Community Development Specialist Gloria Escobar helped transition a borrower out of a loan charging 20 percent interest to a more affordable loan, saving the customer $8,400 in interest payments. Escobar, who is fluent in Spanish, also helped a woman who didn't speak English and was having problems communicating with a collection agency that was seeking to repossess her auto. Escobar worked with them to stop the repossession and waive the fees, enabling the woman to keep her car to get to work. Escobar, who is a certified financial coach, is currently working with the woman to help improve her finances in the future.

Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer Jodi Rathbun-Briggs said, “More than 90 percent of the Berkshire population depends on private transportation to get to work. The ‘New Road’ auto loan program gives people access to a car at an affordable rate. The program also has an incentive that decreases the interest rate on the loan when the borrower pays monthly bills on time. Many employers report that employees’ lack of reliable transportation makes it hard to retain good workers. The ‘New Road’ program has the added benefit of helping people get to work consistently, keeping them in good standing with their employers and able to stay employed.”

Greylock originally pursued the CDFI certification in 2015 to expand services and address the needs of low to moderate income families in Berkshire County, where 20% of families with children under age 5 are living in poverty. To receive this certification, Greylock demonstrated that its primary mission is promoting community development and providing development services in conjunction with their financing activities. One of the benefits of CDFI certification is access to financial grants from the CDFI Fund.

About Greylock
Greylock membership is open to anyone who lives, works, attends school, worships or regularly conducts business in Berkshire County, and Westfield, Southwick, Granville, Montgomery, or Russell, Massachusetts. Greylock Federal is wholly owned by its more than 82,000 members and offers full-service branches in Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Lee, Adams, North Adams, Williamstown, Lanesborough, and Lenox. Greylock has a Low Income Designation (LID) from the NCUA and certification by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund allowing the Credit Union to offer expanded services to low and moderate income families. More information is available at www.greylock.org.

Greylock’s family of businesses includes:

  • Greylock Insurance Agency, with six locations county-wide, handles commercial and personal lines including auto, homeowner’s, life, disability, long-term care insurance, all forms of bonding, and 24/7 claims service.
  • Greylock Investment Group offers access to a full array of services including financial planning, retirement planning, investment management, mutual funds, annuities and portfolio management.
  • Greylock Employee Benefits Services offers comprehensive consultation and brokerage services for group medical, dental, life and disability insurance.
  • Greylock Technology Group provides programming and IT consulting for financial institutions.

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