Making A Big Impact In Our Members’ Lives

Denise Stewart

As Unitus employees and members know, Unitus is dedicated to improving the financial well-being of our members. To promote long-term member wellness, we constantly seek out new products and services to help members save more, learn more, and get better rates. We strive to give our members a legendary level of service and care.

It has been just over a year since I joined Unitus to serve in a newly created role as Assistant Vice President of Member Experience. Though not without its challenges, this role has provided an overwhelming sense of excitement and possibility for how we can make life better for our members.

A recent organization wide effort is a great example of how we positively impacted many of our members’ lives. We called it our Surprise & Delight campaign. Throughout the month of June, our Member Service Excellence team, a group of Unitus employees committed to innovating member service, encouraged our employees to go above and beyond for our members. Our thoughtful Leadership team granted every employee complete freedom to spend $10 on any member for any reason. The only rule was that the money must be used to surprise and delight a member. The empowerment was given for employees to grow deeper, more genuine and more generous connections with our members.

It was heartwarming to see how joyful our members were to receive these unexpected gifts, and how creative our employees were in delivering extra thoughtful service to our members. The Member Service Excellence team encouraged staff to share their stories with each other through an online form in order to inspire other creative efforts throughout the company. Stories streamed in throughout the month of June to the tune of nearly 100 submissions detailing poignant moments employees shared with members. To illustrate how much value a generous act can bring to others, I wanted to highlight a few examples of these touching stories:


One of our regular members is an accomplished tattoo artist who recently purchased her own studio on N Mississippi Ave. Octavio and I follow her on Instagram and noticed she is painting her studio today. She is starting from the ground up and commented if anyone was willing to help them paint they should stop by today from 3-5pm. Having our garage door open, we knew it was a hot 90-degree day and they probably didn’t have AC/refrigerator yet. If you have ever painted in a hot sweaty room, you know what I’m talking about. Octavio and I decided to visit New Seasons for some ice-cold soda water, liquorish, trail mix, granola bars and some frosty ciders so they could enjoy some delicious painting snacks! When we arrived and knocked on the door, the member opened it, mouth wide open in surprise. She was so appreciative that we followed her IG and that we were the first people to respond. She sounded shocked that Unitus would do something like this and was smiling the entire time.

Aaron Clark, Branch Manager, and Octavio Rojas-Coronel, Lead Member Advocate at North Williams


A member called in to get a limit increase on their credit card with us. When I asked more questions I discovered that the reason for the increase was because the member had their vehicle broken into and had all of their tools stolen. What makes this even harder on the member is that they are an electrician, so without the tools they are not able to work. While on the phone I started asking the member where they go to get tools for their line of work. … After working with Michelle (Member Loan Center Manager) and Ronda (AVP of Consumer Lending) about a plan, we decided to try to send an online Card to the member, due to their sense of urgency. While we ordered the gift card online, (Loan Processors) Shawn Ohki and Stephanie Zarceno made this loan a high priority to get our member the increase. … Less than 90 minutes later, the member had applied, the loan was reviewed and approved, the gift card was purchased and sent to the member, the loan documents were sent out and signed, and the increase was completed. We told the member about the $10 eGift Card waiting for them in their email, along with the thank you card we wrote to be mailed out to them. When he received approval of the loan, the member was tearing up because he was so happy. After notifying him of our Surprise and Delight efforts, the member let me know that “This is why I bank with Unitus, you guys are great people. I don’t even know what to say. I seriously tell everyone to bring their bank accounts to you. I’m going to be able to go back to work tomorrow because of you guys. I can’t tell you how happy I am.” 

— Danny McGuire, Consumer Loan Underwriter


There’s a special heritage member who would often come in to share fun stories about her grandkids and chat about how she’s loved being part of Unitus since she was a Telco employee. She would always look forward to our fundraisers and was proud to support the many different ones we would hold over the years. She was a regular at the Peterkort branch, but since she moved into an assisted living community a year and a half ago, she has not been able to visit our branch. Her son would come in to do her transactions and was happy to update us as to how his mom was doing. To surprise and delight the member, I made arrangements with her son for us to visit her and bring her flowers and a thank you note from Unitus, for all her years being a supportive member. Even her son was surprised that we would do something like that for his mom and was very appreciative that we thought of her even though she has not visited our branch in a long time. Joe (Assistant Manager at the Peterkort branch) and I went over to deliver her flowers and read our thank you note to her. She was so excited to see us, share stories about herself and her grandkids, and show us around her living space. She was thankful that we paid her a special visit, since she is unable to drive now. It truly made her day! Thank you Ashkan, Joe, Kaeli and Ryan (Peterkort branch staff) for helping making it happen for this member! 

— Rina Shankar, Member Advocate at Peterkort


I want to thank our employees for the great effort displayed through the Surprise and Delight campaign. It has been very inspiring to see our employees creatively influencing our members’ lives. I also want to thank our members for your commitment to improving your financial health and wellness, and for your loyalty to Unitus. We appreciate you!

Serving our members with unexpected warmth and generosity is a hallmark of our mission as a credit union. Are we delivering a delightful level of service for you? Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 503-227-5571 or email me personally at Your is feedback is very important to us.


Posted By: Blaine Bartholomew

About the Author: Blaine joined Unitus in June of 2017 after working for Umpqua Bank for 11 years in a variety of capacities within their Retail Banking division. He joined Unitus in a newly created role, designed to improve our members’experience.

He credits the warm welcome he has received by the organization, and opportunities like attending the Government Affairs Conferences and participating in the CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive as contributors to acclimating to the industry quickly. He is happy to be a part of Unitus and the credit union movement.

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