Lynn Wallace has a great phone personality. It’s easy to see how easily she dives into teamwork, both within a work environment and on the volunteer front – and to get all hands on deck to be eager to join her.
Wallace’s credit union career began as a part-timer in high school, starting as a teller and then working in various departments. The loan servicing position requires plenty of background support work. “I like to be hands-on,” she said. Loan servicing is like the back of the house in a restaurant, requiring customer contact for mortgage and consumer loans. But as anyone in restaurant or customer service has learned, it’s the back of the house that makes the front of the house look good.
Wallace served as the consumer lending manager through mid-2013, when she was invited to step into her current position. She has seen Freedom Credit Union evolve from old-fashioned ledgers to computers during her 37-year career. Freedom Credit Union was originally chartered in 1922 as the Western Massachusetts Telephone Workers Credit Union; it adopted its current name in 2004.
She characterizes the credit union’s growth during her career as “going from The Flintstones to the Jetsons;” the first featured a prehistoric family and the second, a family from the space-age future.
Freedom Credit Union in 2001 expanded its membership via a community charter to include anyone living and/or working in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties. The credit union has grown rapidly since 2004, adding nine branches, with the latest one opening in September 2014. That year, eligibility was expanded again to include college attendees the four Western Massachusetts counties.
What hasn’t changed is the strength of the community relations Wallace has formed. She has been active for a long time chairing the Event Leadership Committee for the Ludlow Relay for Life. The checklist involves a kickoff event and includes such critical details as lighting and security. She also serves as a phone volunteer for a Radiothon for the Children’s Miracle Network, through the auspices of Baystate Children’s Hospital, and participates in community activity for Friends of the Homeless, among many other events and fundraisers.
A quieter, unsung but critical service that Wallace performs is not for any particular institution, but for Ludlow neighbors and relatives in their 80s and 90s – balancing their checkbooks and providing many other essential housekeeping services, keeping people safe and sound one household at a time.
“Every day is a learning curve,” she said, placing a lot of emphasis on street wisdom. “I get up in the morning, and it’s a brand new day; what tools do we need, what is [today’s] priority?”