Heroes In a Time of Crisis: Investing in Staff and Members’ Well Being

The following is a coronavirus action plan from Doug Fecher, CEO of Wright-Patt Credit Union in Beavercreek, Ohio. He opens by honoring all those serving on the front lines, outlines changes in operations (details omitted) and summarizes the waiving of many member fees. The member actions below could reduce income by $50 million or more depending on the length of the crisis. This, he says, is why we have capital. “I’m sure there’s more we can do, and will do, but this is where we’re starting.”


What is a hero?

No matter what the dictionary says, for me it is someone who simply answers the call. Often we think of saving a life, but actually most heroic acts are things we don’t usually think about at all. More often than not, heroes are those who take care of their neighbors when nobody else will.

Some people put themselves in position to perform heroic acts. Others find themselves thrust into the role– finding themselves at a crossroads of time, place, and opportunity where a decision must be made. Do I step up or not?

Being a hero doesn’t mean we don’t have fear – it means we do what we need to do despite being afraid.

Imagine life without our everyday heroes.

First responders, members of the military, nurses, and doctors are clearly heroes. But they aren’t the only ones. So understand me when I say, with all due respect to those obvious heroes, that I consider people like us – people who work in grocery stores, pharmacies, and other typical businesses who never thought that what they do is provide essential community services – those people can be heroes too.

And make no mistake – this includes all of you! You and your colleagues at WPCU who work in a business that provides one of the most essential services of all – peace of mind. At a time when you are worrying about your own families you are also being asked by the credit union to step up for others – to make sure members don’t run out of the cash they need to manage their own way through this terrible and unprecedented event.

None of this is easy. Everybody wants passionately to get it right. I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to balance the interests of all our stakeholders to make the best decisions we can. Things are changing daily, even hourly, and so as they change so will the decisions we make to navigate our way through each day.

Heroes. That’s what I think you are, and I don’t think I’m overstating it. I cannot thank you enough.

Now let me update you on where we are today: [internal operations omitted]

Member Temporary Emergency Relief Services

We are putting in place a set of emergency relief services to help members cope with the economic hardship of job loss or reduced income. These services will be available as soon as practical (some require programming, etc. that may take a few days).

Emergency relief services include:

  • Temporary unemployment loans are available at 4% interest
  • Early withdrawal penalties on share certificates of deposit are waived (daily cash withdrawal limits apply).
  • Late fees on loans are waived.
  • Consumer credit card limits for creditworthy borrowers are automatically increased by $1,000.00; higher limits may be available by request.
  • Commercial credit card limits may be increased upon request.
  • Members are permitted to skip up to three consumer loan payments without penalty (Skip a pay may not be available on certain loans). Additional skip-payments may be granted upon request.
  • We are temporarily suspending new foreclosures and automobile repossessions. If you are having trouble paying your bills we urge you to contact us so that we can help.

We are also implementing a temporary change to member fees in order to provide further relief:

  • Share transfer fees for NSF/overdrafts are suspended.
  • NSF/overdrafts fees are suspended.
  • Member choice transaction fees are suspended.
  • Foreign ATM fees are suspended.

Thank you …

These are difficult times, but they are temporary. We will get through this even if we don’t know just how long it will last. Our community will become more used to a new normal way of doing things including accessing cash, and this will happen even before the crisis ends. Every day that passes brings us one day closer to this being over.

I hope you understand that the actions we are taking are to protect our partners and members as best we can. Truth be told I personally hate that we can’t just close shop and have everyone go home to wait this out. But if a home catches fire the firefighters will show up. If you go to a hospital there will be doctors and nurses waiting to care for you. If you need food or medicine there will be grocery and a pharmacy open to help you. And if you need cash or can’t pay your bills, buy basic supplies, or take care of your family, we are your credit union. We will be there for you too. Closing our business is just not an option.

And that’s why I think you all are heroes. It’s not something I say lightly, and so when I say thanks for all you’re doing, I hope understand the emotion and force of those words. I simply can’t thank you enough.

Doug Fecher, CEO

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