Since 1946 Cranston municipal employees and their families have had the opportunity of becoming members of their own credit union. Like municipal employees in other cities and towns, they founded a credit union providing members to receive loans at lower rates from many other financial institutions while getting greater returns on their savings.
Over the decades many of those municipal credit unions have merged to become larger credit unions and, in some cases, publicly traded banks.
But the Cranston Municipal Employees Credit Union, now with 2,900 members and $58 million in assets, continues to serve its members and, in the last several months, opened its doors to members outside of Cranston employees and their families.
“We are excited to expand our membership eligibility so that more people can now experience the same financial advantages available to our longstanding school, police, fire and city employee members, the rock of our foundation,” CEO Dennis J. Crawley said in a statement. “Our expanded vision is to reach out to the general community and provide a much-needed alternative to big banks; credit unions are a refreshing, safe alternative. We want our members to thrive and take a new look at their money and hold on to more of it. We also want them to grow with us. ”
In an interview, Crawley said for the time being the credit union has no plans of opening additional locations or merging with other institutions. Also, it plans to keep its name, although membership isn’t limited to employees.
Crawley, who has a career in banking, came to the credit union in 1994 as the assistant general manager. He was elevated to general manager (now carrying the title of CEO) about two years later and has participated in the evolution of the credit union since then.
The credit union is federally insured and was not affected by the state credit union crisis of 1991. It has a 21 percent equity position, which Crawley points out is well beyond the 10 to 11 percent considered good for a credit union.
Apart from its sound financial history, Crawley believes one of the credit union’s greatest assets is its employees. The credit union has seven employees, some of whom have been there for as many as 40 years, and they know many members on a first name basis. That was evident on Friday as people filtered into offices at 1615 Pontiac Avenue to make deposits, withdrawals and loan payments. Conversation over the counter included updates on family news and wishes for a happy New Year. Crawley called that sense of community an asset that the institution is looking to share beyond municipal employees.
The credit union offers free checking with no minimum balance requirement plus a host of other services ranging from share accounts, Christmas clubs, money market savings to personal, home equity, home mortgage, auto shared secured and recreational vehicle loans. The credit union has a debit Master Card and, through a shared banking network, SUM ATM, provides members with access to more than 9,000 ATMs, said Crawley. The credit union also provides online banking and bill paying through its website.
For those not familiar with Pontiac Avenue, credit union offices in the Capuano Building are off the beaten track. The southbound lane of Pontiac Avenue makes a left just beyond the Howard Avenue entrance to the Pastore Complex and the office building is a short block on the right. Pontiac Avenue continues to join Knight Street with access to Warwick and Warwick Mall.
The office is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Mary Gliottone, former Cranston City finance director, chairs a board of 15 directors that includes Stephen Hogan, vice president; Crawley, treasurer; Bette Ann Berk, assistant treasurer and former Cranston City Clerk Roberta Turchetta as secretary. Directors are Joseph Balducci, John Cory, Richard DeGrandpre, Maria Manzi, Christian Lamothe, David Mizzoni, Joseph Morris, Marco Palombo, Donald Salvatore Jr. and John Zolli Jr.