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St. Jean’s gives its customers credit

By David Mclellan | March 21, 2020

LYNN — St. Jean’s Credit Union has been around for 110 years. As the second oldest credit union in the country, it’s seen disaster before, and knows how to handle it. 

Next week, St. Jean’s Credit Union will be instituting a policy allowing members to miss a loan payment due to economic hardship during the pandemic of COVID-19, the coronavirus that has infected more than 300 people in Massachusetts, and hundreds of thousands worldwide. 

“Our members are so loyal to our credit union,” said President and CEO David Surface. “They are calling ahead and saying, ‘I lost my job and I don’t want to go delinquent, I want to pay you.’ We really appreciate that.” 

Surface said the policy explicitly allows members to skip their next loan payment, with no impact on interest. 

“If somebody goes delinquent, we are going to work with people to let them do a skip-a-pay, which we don’t normally do this time of year,” Surface said. 

The “skip-a-pay” policy Surface referred to is a common policy among credit unions around the holidays, when people are allowed to put off a payment due to the increased financial burden of the time. It is an uncommon policy during other times of the year, Surface said, but seems to be the right thing to do in the midst of a crisis. 

Surface said he’s been with St. Jean’s Credit Union for the last 19 years. In 2008, during the economic recession, the credit union continued to lend money. While policies like these may seem financially untenable to some, they build member loyalty that ultimately strengthens the credit union.

“We’ve seen crisis before,” Surface said. “Too many crises.”

Surface said the St. Jean’s Credit Union Board of Directors supports the measure, and other financial relief policies have been discussed, such as allowing deferred mortgage payments. 

The credit union has closed its lobbies, but continues to offer drive-through services to “get cash in hands,” Surface said. The credit union is also providing lunches for its staff.

“People are struggling,” Surface said. “This is why the credit union’s slogan is ‘people helping people.’” 

For questions about this service, and all other inquiries, members of the credit union should call (781) 592-5220.
David McLellan can be reached at dmclellan@itemlive.com.