85th Annual Meeting Highlights: Honoring Johnson, Pandemic Changed the Credit Union’s Operational Model
The credit union held its 85th Annual Meeting on April 28th in a virtual format, marking the second year the credit union held a virtual annual meeting in recognition of pandemic protocols for large gatherings.
Although it was virtual, it was an action-packed meeting that opened with honoring longtime Board Member Herman Johnson, who stepped down from the board in 2020 after 40 years of volunteer service.
MEFCU Chairman Bernie Wisniewski thanked Johnson for his 40 years of service, noting his past tenures as chairman and his avid work on the investment committee as well as the supervisory committee. Johnson enjoyed a long career at Merck, while serving as a volunteer for the credit union.
To recognize Johnson, he was awarded a commemorative brick at America’s Credit Union Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire. America’s Credit Union Museum sits on the site of the nation’s first-ever credit union, St. Mary’s Bank, and is where the credit union system’s rich history and traditions are chronicled. Johnson’s brick will be proudly placed in the walkway of the courtyard area of the Museum. America’s Credit Union Museum Executive Director Stephanie Smith joined the meeting as a guest speaker to recognize Johnson on behalf of the Museum.
In his opening chairman remarks, Chairman Wisniewski thanked the members for their support in 2020 and reaffirmed the credit union’s commitment to serving all members in these challenging times. He then introduced MEFCU President/CEO Paul Gentile who presented some data and trends about the credit union’s performance in 2020, which included a record of $280 million of new deposits, bringing the credit union’s assets to $2.2 billion.
Gentile addressed the record low Treasury rates that the credit union had to navigate in 2020, due the Federal Reserve cutting rates by 150 basis points in reaction to the pandemic. The credit union, true to its mission of returning value to the members, only cut its rates by 0.625 and for much of 2020 paid between 1.125 and 1.25 on its regular share account, which was a market leading rate in financial services.
Gentile also highlighted how due to the pandemic the credit union moved many more services online, allowing members to self-serve online for many account functions. The credit union also launched a new Web site in 2020 (www.merckcu.com) and redesigned its Upton Place Branch to be more accommodating for employees and members given pandemic protocols. But one of the credit union’s biggest achievements in 2020, said Gentile, was the launch of its Financial Wellness Center.
“Financial wellness is so important, especially now as members face additional stresses due to the pandemic. We are committed to assisting our members. In addition to offering some of the lowest fees and best rates in financial services, we have committed to an educational platform to help members learn about key personal financial topics in an interactive, self-paced environment,” said Gentile. The Financial Wellness Center can be found at the credit union’s Web site.
The meeting also featured board elections which saw the election of Lisa Auerbach, Ronald Coleman, Patrick Ruane and Andrea Krysienski to the board. After the meeting, the board held its organizational meeting where Jeffrey Hack was named as Chairman, Ruane as Vice Chairman, Krysienski as Treasurer, and Rae Karby as Secretary.