We had a robust tuition reimbursement program in place, but we wanted to find a way to help team members who were already done with school. So, we introduced a new student loan repayment program.
“I have been with Lake Trust for four and a half years and I’m a lifelong member too. I was ecstatic when Lake Trust decided to not only provide tuition reimbursement, but to help employees who have already completed their degree! This program has helped make my student loan payment more manageable. This was especially helpful during the pandemic when my childcare costs increased since my 7-year-old daughter couldn’t be in school. I also like that the payment is sent directly to my student loan servicer, so I don’t have to worry about sending in a separate payment. I am very appreciative that Lake Trust recognizes the hard work I put into my 4-year Bachelor’s degree, which I obtained many years prior to working here.”
-Alisa D., MEA
Student loans are the most significant form of consumer debt besides mortgages. These loans often have high balances and high interest rates, making it difficult for many people to pay off. While we’re always looking for ways to help our members, we realized, however, that we needed to do more to support our team members’ financial wellbeing.
We learned that our team members hold over $2 million in student loan debt. So, we introduced the new College Student Loan Repayment Program and we now contribute $100 per month toward team member student loan payments. In 2019, we helped 63 team members and contributed over $71,000 toward their payments. And this program has already made a difference:
This small bit of support will have a huge impact, as we predict that these 63 members of Team Lake Trust will save a cumulative total of $415,800 and pay off their loans 8 months sooner.*
*Predictions based on enrollment in a standard 10-year repayment plan.
In 2019, we took ambitious steps to expand the branch experience for our members. We opened a new location in Plymouth after hearing feedback from our members for the desire to have a branch in this community. Not only were we excited for the opportunity to help our members in Plymouth, but our new location led to new partnerships in the area. Our team started volunteering with the Plymouth United Way and we also gave a $2,500 donation to the nonprofit to help assist local food pantries. We’re happy to be in another Michigan community where we can use our resources to make a positive impact.
In addition to opening a new location in Plymouth and Detroit (see story below), we relocated our Holland, DTE, and Howell-Highland branches to more convenient locations. Each branch features an open-concept layout, creating a more welcome atmosphere that fosters open conversations and interactions. Our Holland and Howell-Highland branches also feature outdoor video teller machines, making it possible to help our members during extended hours.
When opening our new Holland branch, we took the opportunity to give back to the community. We gave a donation to either Kids’ Food Basket or Holland Rescue Mission for each new membership opened at the branch during a six-week promotional period. In total, we donated $2,500 to Kids’ Food Basket and $1,500 to Holland Rescue Mission.
Over 100 attendees enhanced their leadership skills and connected with area business owners during the Wake-Up West Coast breakfast that we sponsored.
We saw great opportunity to become part of the revitalization and excitement happening in the Detroit area, and in June 2019 we opened a new relationship center along Woodward Ave. in New Center. Our new location has historical significance in the city, as it was the former home of Dime Savings Bank from 1899 to 1928. During renovations, we found bell covers from the old bank in the basement. So, as a nod to the building’s roots in the finance industry, we repurposed the bell covers and used them as lighting sconces.
Other thoughtful touches were incorporated into the design of the branch to pay homage to the city that welcomed us so warmly. Repurposed windows from the Cadillac Stamping Plant were incorporated into the décor of the branch. A table for the branch was built using reclaimed wood from the Packard and Cadillac Stamping Plants. We later commissioned local artist, Jesse Kassel, to paint a Detroit-inspired mural in the branch.
To celebrate our grand opening and to show our support for local businesses, we held a drawing where people could submit an entry to win tickets to the Shawn Mendes concert at Little Caesars Arena. We also gave away gift cards for Rebel Nell, a Detroit jewelry company that helps women who face barriers to employment, and Avalon Bakery, a business that supports local farmers and gives back to the community.
To support the financial health and wellbeing of Michigan families, we’re involved in a number of projects related to government affairs. In 2019, we connected with several political leaders, including State Representative Ann Bollin, U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, State Senator Lana Theis, and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, to discuss the important role that Lake Trust and other credit unions play in Michigan communities. For example, we frequently partner with local businesses and nonprofits to collaborate on ideas that will make a community impact through volunteerism and community investments. Adding to this work, we assisted in the formation of the Corporate Volunteer Partnership Network with the Governor’s Community Service Commission in 2019.
To further our advocacy efforts, we joined the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Lending to team up with nearly 100 other Michigan organizations in opposition of the expansion of predatory and payday lending. We believe that an expansion of payday lending services will place our members at greater risk for financial instability. These services frequently trap individuals and families in an unmanageable cycle of debt. Our advocacy work regarding this topic continues into 2020.
The town hall we hosted with Senator Gary Peters brought together representatives from three area Chamber of Commerce groups.
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