Altonized Community Federal Credit Union branches out to
A before-and-after of the lobby at Altonized Credit Union’s new and renovated location. Fresh-baked cookies are offered in the lobby of each location.
By JORDAN GRUCZA
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
The Altonized Community Federal Credit Union just celebrated its 80th anniversary with its annual hot dog day in June and now Macoupin residents can enjoy the benefits of joining this long-standing fixture of Madison County. After purchasing a new space in Brighton in December, the renovations are finished and the credit union had a ribbon-cutting in August.
Jennifer Spangler, president of the credit union since 2013, has worked there for 26 years, beginning her career by shredding papers in the back room. Spangler says serving Macoupin County is something that she has always wanted to do, expanding their charter to the area in 2017.
Residents are already seeing the effect of having the credit union nearby.
“We are already working with the high school,” Spangler said. “We do a Piasa Pride program with the high school where we sponsor the varsity sports teams. Since it’s football season, for every touchdown at a home game they get $4 a point and we give them a check at the end of the season.
“We figured if we’re already doing that with the high school, then this would just be the perfect place to open up,” Spangler said. “A lot of people would go for a place more like Jerseyville, but this area wasn’t being served by a credit union.”
To draw attention to potential members, Spangler likes to emphasize that, since they are a credit union, it is owned entirely by the members. There is no board. Spangler says they are “for the people,” with no monthly account fees. All they ask for is $25 in a savings account at any given time.
“We look at the big picture,” Spangler said. “A lot of places require a base credit score when you’re applying for a loan. If you don’t meet that, you’re automatically out, whereas we will bring people in, we’ll pull the credit, we’ll look at the entire picture.
“Loans are done by risk tiers, known as ‘A’ through ‘D’ paper people,” Spangler said. “‘A’ people can go anywhere they want. If you have a ‘C’ or a ‘D’ person and you give them a loan and help them out, they’re going to continue to come back to you. We don’t just say you’re credit score is too low and we’re not going to help you. Our tagline we go by is ‘People Helping People.’ We still have guidelines to go by, but we it’s not just a black and white answer.”
Spangler says this is only typical of some credit unions anymore.
“We’re considered a small credit union in the grand scheme of them,” Spangler said. “I know a lot of the smaller credit unions still live by this theory. That’s how credit unions were based when they began. A lot of them along the way, as they get larger, tend to lose that ideal.”
Among these differences from the norm, Altonized Credit Union offers free fresh-baked cookies in their lobby every day. This began a year ago at the Alton location and after a positive reaction from the members, Spangler kept the tradition going.
“We treat members like family,” Spangler said. “You’re not just a number to us. If you’ve been a member for more than a week, we’re going to know your name and your face. We’ve had members who have been with us for so long that when they call on the phone, we just automatically know their voice and have them pulled up before they even ask the first question.”
As far as business has been since the Brighton location has opened, Spangler said they have been doing well.
“We’ve gotten 15 new accounts in two weeks,” Spangler said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we’re very pleased with what we’ve gotten so far.”