A Hand Up

June 22, 2022

How the 1199SEIU Credit Union brings members back to financial health.

HandUp_fa.jpgWhen family emergency strikes, most people will spend whatever it takes to get them through the tough times and worry about paying the bills later.

Like so many 1199 families during the pandemic, Fatima Batista’s family had to deal with multiple tragedies. Two of her uncles—on both her mother’s and her father’s side—were taken by the COVID-19 virus. With her parents still living in the Dominican Republic, and unable to travel because of the pandemic, it fell to Batista to take on the responsibilities associated with bringing her uncles’ bodies back to their homeland for burial.

As an 1199 Research Specialist in the clinical office at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, Batista was living paycheck to paycheck. Luckily, she had joined the 1199SEIU Credit Union a few years before. “It was not until this year that I decided I needed help though,” says Batista, “I realized that I was drowning here.”

A single mother of a sevenyear- old daughter, she did not qualify for any government help with food or rent. “I’m so thankful for the Credit Union because working people need help too— especially single parents who don’t have that extra support,” she adds.

With the help of a $4,000 loan, Batista was able to catch up with her rent and begin to improve her credit score, so that she can buy a home.

Credit Union staff were also able to cut her car note in half from $500 to $250 by negotiating a better interest rate. “They really are working for members—finding ways of getting them out of debt, not just get their money. There is really no reason to go to a bank, or even worse, a payday lender,” says Batista.


Elida Leon Castro, an 1199 CNA at BronxCare Health System, agrees. “After the pandemic, I was three months behind on my rent and facing losing my apartment.

It had been particularly hard to manage all the bills on my own since I got divorced,” she explains. Then she herself got COVID-19 and didn’t have any sick time left, because she had used it all up earlier in the year when she had surgery. Castro was down with the virus for two months, but her wages stopped after the first two weeks. “If it wasn’t for a loan from the Credit Union, I don’t know what I would have done,” she says.

But it is not just a safety net for unexpected expenses. The Credit Union can help members with financial planning too. Jose Paneto, an 1199 Electrician at Mt Sinai Health System for the past 14 years, lives in Washington Heights with his two daughters aged 5 and 11. “We really needed a two-bedroom for my daughters,” explains Paneto adding, “I ended up getting my car refinanced too.

It was almost 10 percent interest through the dealer compared with 3.25 per cent with the Credit Union. I’m now paying $100 a month less on my car.

“My mother is in 1199 and people at work told me about the credit union. A lot of members don’t know about it.”

Norman Glanzman, an 1199 Activities Aide at the Sands Point Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Port Washington on Long Island, had always wanted to join a credit union. “It is very hard to get an unsecured personal loan at other banks,” he says, “and you can’t keep $5,000 on account when you are living on a paycheck as a regular worker. The 1199SEIU Credit Union offers a lot better options for your money without extra fees and costs. They are also extremely nice and helpful, and they work with you.” You can contact the 1199SEIU Federal Credit Union at 212-957-1055 or memberservices@1199federalcu. org.”

1199 Magazine: May / June 2022