ECORSE, Mich. – With a large employer in its field of membership facing yet another round of layoffs, a community credit union based in Ecorse has purchased a service to give its members greater access to financial education and counseling. The credit union faced a significant number of layoffs from one of its steel mill employers, said Debbie Stewart, loan services manager for the $103 million Downriver Community CU that serves 15 communities in its field of membership. "We didn't have the staff or the resources and time to ramp up to help that many people who might need financial counseling and education," Stewart said. "So we went with Accel." Accel is a program offered by Greenpass, the Michican Credit Union League's consumer counseling services. For one flat fee per month to Accel, Downriver's members can access a financial educator and counselor who will stay on the line with them to answer their questions and who will be knowledgeable about Downriver's policies and procedures, Stewart explained. The credit union adopted the approach to both try to reach members who may start having financial problems earlier and to educate members getting back on their feet about the best ways to do it. Accel, is available to all the members of its subscribing credit unions but specializes in seeking to help both members who are starting to work toward big financial goals, such as home ownership, at the same time it seeks to help members undergoing a financial reversal of some sort, explained Jeff Jorissen, director of Accel. The Michigan League reorganized its almost 50-year-old consumer counseling effort and renamed it Greenpass, explained Jorissen. "Accel is a product of Greenpass," he said. Although Greenpass and the Accel effort began within Michigan, Jorrisen said that Accel has added a credit union in New York and seven in North Carolina in the six months it has been operating.

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