The Community Credit Union that moved into Davis Square last fall got its start in 1955 when two brothers founded a financial institution for the Greek community in Lynn. But with the opening of a second branch in Peabody in 2007, “we became a little less Greek,” said Christina Koumoundouros, the Somerville branch manager.
Now anyone who lives, works or worships within a 25-mile radius of the Lynn branch can do their banking at Community Credit Union (CCU), which operates as a nonprofit.
“The geographical charter broadens the sense of community while keeping it comfortable,” said Courtney O’Keefe, CCU’s Community Outreach Manager and the founder of Ward5Online. “This provides an opportunity for anybody and everybody to get that credit union experience.”
To become a member of CCU, you only need to open a savings account with $25 in it. CCU offers personal and commercial banking services like mortgages, CDs, auto loans, online banking and more.
“When someone walks in to open their savings account, whether they have $25 or $25,000, everyone is treated equally,” O’Keefe said.
While the new branch in Davis Square means CCU has expanded, it hasn’t lost the personal touch that is the key to the CCU experience. It means that instead of reaching a call center when you need something, you’ll get Koumoundouros or one of the branch employees on the phone instead.
“I’ve always truly loved how close the CCU is. Our customers and employees have always been very, very close,” Koumoundouros said.
That closeness is one reason CCU has a low employee turnover rate. Koumoundouros herself started working at CCU as a teller nine years ago at age 16. In the intervening years she’s held many jobs at CCU, returning to work at the branches throughout and after college.
It was April 2014 when CCU decided to open a new branch in Somerville and Koumoundouros said choosing the Davis Square location came easy.
“We did some research about where we would thrive the most and when we saw Somerville on the list, we got so excited,” Koumoundouros said, citing the city’s progressive nature as a big draw.
The exact branch location was determined when she and CCU’s president Nick Sarantopoulos were walking by and noticed the Greek flag flying above the building.
“We laughed and thought, ‘it’s a sign,'” Koumoundouros said.
To skeptics who question another bank opening in Davis Square, Koumoundouros cites the lack of a credit union as a big reason CCU was drawn to the area.
“Davis Square doesn’t need another bank, but we’re not a bank,” Koumoundouros said. “We’re a nonprofit, we fit in with Davis Square. Everyone’s very socially involved.”
Somerville Local First holiday party at CCU, from left to right: Second Chances Founder Andrea Shapiro; health and wellness coach Dillan DiGiovanni; SLF Board President Jen Lawrence; SLF board member, Ward5Online Founder and CCU’s Community Outreach Manager Courtney O’Keefe.
CCU has wasted no time getting involved too. Koumoundouros and O’Keefe both serve with me on the board of Somerville Local First and it was through the organization that O’Keefe met Koumoundouros and was hired at CCU.
“We want to show just how much we enjoy the community,” Koumoundouros said. “It’s my favorite part of the job.”
O’Keefe added, “I think [CCU] brings a lot of humanness to banking.”
Since the branch opened in late 2014, CCU has been bringing goody bags with local products (Taza Chocolate and Somerville Soap Works) to everyone who works at local Davis Square businesses in the hopes of securing more Somerville members.
“People were so surprised. There’s no gimmick to it, we just wanted to introduce ourselves,” Koumoundouros said. “New business is coming slow and steady. We want to make friends and the business will come.”
Images courtesy of Community Credit Union.