“We care about our communities and that [means], between community giving and making sure we’re really listening, we’re doing all we can for our members every day.”—Cynthia Negri, chief operating officer
In 1950, seven County of Sonoma employees joined to form the Sonoma County Employees Credit Union. According to Cynthia Negri, chief operating officer, these seven employees initially came together to offer each other bridge loans to support themselves between paychecks when they needed funds to help make ends meet. In 1982, the Sonoma County Employees Credit Union was renamed Redwood Credit Union.
RCU is considered a full-service financial institution, offering the same financial services and products that a bank offers. However, credit unions differ from banks in that they focus more on service, not profit. RCU offers a wide range of services, including checking and savings accounts, mobile deposits, credit and debit cards, auto and home loans, business payroll services, as well as wealth management and investment services. They also offer insurance services and an auto center.
The credit union has had a longstanding commitment to service, and it’s apparent whenever you enter any one of its 19 branches, which are located in Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties. RCU also makes it convenient for members to have access to shared branches located throughout the United States, with 6,800 locations and 30,000 CO-OP ATMs. Currently, the organization employs 710 employees and has 385,000 members.
The pandemic hasn’t deterred employees from participating in community-wide events. According to Negri, employees took part in 72 virtual events and were able to give more than 400 hours of community service in 2020. Another way employees give of their time is by participating on various company boards in the community, such as Social Advocates for Youth and the Redwood Empire Food Bank, and by taking part in the organization’s Employee Giving Campaign, in which they can contribute monies from their paychecks to nonprofits throughout the year. In 2015, the Redwood Credit Union Community Fund, which is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established to provide aid in disasters—such as floods and wildfires—which have afflicted various North Bay counties that RCU serves.
For 14 consecutive years, RCU has won Best Credit Union in NorthBay biz magazine’s annual readers’ poll. “We’re thrilled! We’re doing something right,” says Negri. “And to be voted and recognized by the community, and from all of your readers is a big deal for us, and that’s why we’re here and why we do what we do every single day, so it’s quite an honor.” Negri believes RCU continues to win this recognition because the entire staff is making a difference in people’s lives. “We’re a local organization. We care about our communities and that [means], between community giving and making sure we’re really listening to everybody, we’re doing all we can for our members every day,” she says. “Just the fact that we’re loved by our communities—that matters to us.”
It’s evident that Redwood Credit Union and its staff give a lot of their time and money to helping support causes in the North Bay, and place a high value in providing the best service possible to helping every member achieve their dreams and goals.
Photos courtesy of Redwood Credit Union