I Think Therefore I Am

July 17, 2020

I think thinking is good.  I think about thinking a lot; especially these days because there is so much more to think about.  I think we even think about things we never thought about before and think about what we’re going to need to think about in the future.  You think more about where to go, how to go, the known and unknown.  You think more about family and friends.  You may think more about strangers and what they’re thinking.  You may even think about how much thinking people are not doing these days.  You think about how they act rather than think because thinking takes too much effort.  I must say, however, I think there is some non-thinking that is actually good.

When you think about it, our brains are a marvelous thinking machine and I find myself thinking about how much thinking my thinking machine can take.  Which is why, I think, it’s good to take some time not to think, but not in the way most people aren’t thinking these days.  For example, if I go to the beach I see lots of people reading books or scrolling on phones and tablets.  Not me.  I took a book once and read only three chapters in a week.  I took a comic book for the entertainment value and minimal time it took.  Mostly though, I just sit and stare off.  Perhaps play some music, but it’s just background.  I sit and think of nothing.  I take in the wind and sounds and visual rhythms that pass before me, but I don’t think about them; they just are.  As I think about it now, I realize when I don’t think, sometimes I think the best. When you tune out the all the thoughts that constantly plague your mind, when you take a few moments to clear your head, it’s like a reboot to your entire system and when you tune back in, there are amazing ideas, a greater appreciation of things and a renewed focus on what needs to be done.

Of course, you don’t need to be on a beach.  You can do it anywhere.  Sometimes I take a few moments to get up from my desk and look out the window.  You just need to make time, for a few brief moments, at home, in your car, walking a trail, anywhere, to let it all go, breath deep, and don’t think.

Thinking is good, thinking is necessary most of the time, but not thinking for even just a little bit here and there, is a really good thing too.   I think.

 

Mike

Freedom Expands Field of Membership- CEO Letter

July 2, 2020

Dear Freedom Members,

I wanted to share some very exciting news with you, as soon as I could.

Late last year, Freedom began the process of requesting, with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the governing agency that regulates credit unions, for the ability to expand our field of membership, in order to serve more residents within the state.  I am extremely excited to announce to you that the NCUA has approved our request. Effective immediately, in addition to Harford County, Freedom membership is now open to businesses and any individuals who live, work, worship, volunteer, attend school, or have family in Baltimore County.

Your Board of Directors have also unanimously approved this field of membership expansion. With NCUA’s approval, as well as Board approval, we can now provide what we call the “Freedom Advantage”, our unique credit union service offering, to the greater Baltimore County communities. We will be able to better serve a larger group of Maryland consumers and businesses, many of whom we have heard from directly, that have been underserved, and address their immediate and long-term savings and lending needs as only a credit union, like Freedom, can do.

We are excited to roll out our plans for welcoming Baltimore County residents to Freedom and communicating our value proposition. We are working hard to provide the best financial institution and structure we can to serve not only our new communities within Baltimore County, but all of Harford County as well.

Freedom is an organization best qualified to meet the financial service needs of both Harford and Baltimore Counties. We’re financially strong, with full-service, easily accessible locations and a wide range of financial products, services, and accessible, intuitive technology.

We have also put great focus on our social responsibility, supporting those same communities we serve.  In fact, we have made it our mission to be a trusted financial partner that does more than just banking, by creating a community support culture of people helping people that meets the needs of our members and the communities we serve. We now have even more opportunity to do good in the community, for even more organizations, businesses, and people across both Baltimore and Harford Counties.

I know this is a big change for us, and you may have some questions as a result of this announcement.  I want to take this opportunity to try and answer some of these for you now.

Why did Freedom want to expand its Field of Membership?

Making Freedom membership available to all those who live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in Baltimore County was a logical step in our Credit Union’s evolution.  Nearly 3,000 current Freedom members are already Baltimore County residents and were able to join because of some affiliation with Harford County. We have heard directly from so many Baltimore County residents over the years that they wish they could join Freedom. With just a few credit unions and numerous big banks in Baltimore County, credit unions are few and far between, even though they represent a better financial choice for most consumers. And we know Freedom will provide Baltimore County the exact type of financial institution that so many have said they want.

How is this a good thing for current Freedom members?

Because of the way a credit union is structured, as a financial cooperative, the health and strength of the organization is strongly dependent on the membership being engaged and utilizing its products and services.  The more members that are an active part of the credit union and using its products and services, the better the ability to offer lower cost loan options, higher deposit rates, better technology and access, and more community support.   Our expansion into Baltimore County will allow Freedom to provide our unique financial offerings to more consumers that need them and provide a much needed financial alternative to the big banks.  In doing so, we will be able to increase our membership, and the ability to serve all our members, and our shared communities better.

With 32,000 members and growing, Freedom has been a strong financial partner to our members for over 67 years, and we look forward to being an even better partner with this expansion.

Does this mean we are taking away resources to support Harford County?

Absolutely not!  Our expansion into Baltimore County does not take anything away from our focus, commitment, and support to the Harford County community. On the contrary, our expansion will afford us greater resources to expand our support of Harford County residents, businesses, and organizations. We are, and have always been, a part of this great community, and will continue to serve it as we always have.

Will you be opening new branches in Baltimore County?

We will look at all our options with respect to new and future physical locations, in both Harford and Baltimore Counties, to best serve our expanded membership. We will also review how we already serve members, regardless of location, by leveraging technology for those who like and want to conduct business electronically and remotely, on their own schedule.  One of the biggest lessons we have learned during these past few months is that members are quite adept, and look for, newer technology to serve their banking needs. We will, therefore, consider all options to offer the best balance between physical locations and technology that best serves our membership.

We will continue to share information and details about this exciting news for Freedom Federal Credit Union and its membership, and where we go from here.  In the meantime, if you have family, friends, and/or coworkers who live, work, study, volunteer, have family, or worship in Baltimore County, please help us spread the news of who we are, and share with them the Freedom Advantage!

I want to thank all of you for your ongoing trust and confidence in Freedom. It is because of you that we are here, and will continue to be here, for many years to come. Our future is bright, and together, there’s no telling what we can accomplish.

Sincerely,

CEO Signature

Michael MacPherson
President and CEO
Freedom Federal Credit Union

A Message from President and CEO, Mike MacPherson Regarding Lobby Reopenings

June 9, 2020

Dear Members,

It was more than two and a half months ago that I shared with you the details of Freedom’s plans and efforts to keep our employees and members safe during the initial COVID-19 outbreak.  During that time, we announced closures of our lobbies, focused branch access to drive-thrus only, and ensured the optimal performance of all digital and virtual platforms.

I want to thank you once again for your patience, understanding and flexibility through these challenging times.  We are now actively finalizing steps necessary to begin gradually reopening Freedom branch lobbies, safely and effectively.

Beginning June 22nd, our Swan Creek branch in Havre de Grace, and our Park Avenue branch in Bel Air, will be available by appointment only.  Our Fountain Green and Forest Lakes branches will open similarly on June 29th, or shortly thereafter.

In addition, since now permissible, we are reopening drive thru service at our Edgewood location on June 15th, Monday through Friday from 9am-3pm.

As we implement new precautions to protect you and our staff, any changes required to this timeline will be communicated accordingly.  Branch hours, and other details will be posted to the Branch Locations page of our website.

As we begin to expand our in-branch services again, we have considered every aspect of the member experience, with your safety, and our employees’ safety, as our top priority.  Some of the changes you will see include:

  • All lobby access and hours of operation will be by appointment-only. A new appointment scheduler is being created for your use and will be accessible via our Homepage. We will notify you as soon as the appointment scheduler is ready and we begin taking appointments.
    • No walk-in traffic will be available during this initial opening phase. All walk-in traffic will be directed to use the drive-thrus.
    • Drive-thru service will still operate without appointments
  • In accordance with Harford County Government guidelines, masks or face coverings will be required at all times while inside the branches.
    • You may be asked to quickly pull down your mask to verify your identity
  • Freedom staff will also be wearing masks or face coverings during your visit
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available in the lobbies. You may be asked to use the station prior to your in-branch appointment
  • Plexiglass guards have been set-up at our teller stations and Financial Services desks
  • Physical distancing protocols will be in place
  • Increased cleaning and sanitization in high-traffic areas will be in place throughout each day

I would like to personally thank you, not only for your patience and understanding, but also for all of the positive comments and outreach you have made to me during this unprecedented time.  I am truly heartened by the loyalty and commitment you have shown Freedom.

Sincerely,

CEO Signature

Michael MacPherson
President and CEO
Freedom Federal Credit Union