Service Series: Spotlighting Walter Tanalski, Chairman of the Board, Manville Area FCU

Since its founding in May of 1937, Manville Area Federal Credit Union has strived to offer convenient and affordable products and services to meet the financial needs of its members and their families. Walter Tanalski has been a credit union member for over 30 years and on the board of directors of Manville Area FCU in various capacities since 2014. Read on to hear from Walt about how he got started and why he’s continued to support the credit union movement for close to three decades. 

What brought you to the credit union industry?
The United States Army. When I went in the service, I went in June of 1964. We got paid on the 30th. I got paid $31.60, but I never got the 60 cents that came in July’s paycheck. You never got the pennies; it was always rounded down to the whole dollar. So, I got 31 dollars, and we were marched to the credit union, Army Federal Credit Union, and I had to save $3 into my credit union account; 10% of my paycheck. So, I opened an account and put 3 dollars in it. When left the tailor shop (because that’s where the credit union was at the time) to the government office and bought a bond for $6.25--a third of the total cost of $18.75. Then they took us up to the PX to buy the rest of our things. I think when we got all done with that I had something like $9 and something left out of my paycheck. That had to last me the whole month of July! I didn’t eat nothing! I think I spent 15 cents on a Coke, got caught, and I had to do 150 push-ups! So that’s why I hate Coke. I don’t drink Coke to this day!

How did you get involved with Manville Federal Credit Union?
When I left the Army, I couldn’t find another credit union to join through the VFW. So, I pushed for the credit union in Manville, N.J. to add the VFW to its membership because we had the biggest VFW in the state of New Jersey--when I joined we had 1,876 members --and we needed a credit union. When Manville Area FCU added the VFW to its membership, that’s when I became a part of the credit union. I joined the Supervisory Committee then eventually was voted in as Chairman.

Why have you stayed involved for so long, almost 30 years?
Because I think it’s one of the greatest things since sliced bread. You have better interest for both sides--lower rates on loans and higher rates on savings. You pay less for a loan and you get more for your money most of the time.

We can save you money. We can help you manage your money. If you don’t know how to budget, I can get you someone to do that for you.

We helped one of the members of our community keep his house and truck after declaring bankruptcy due to his wife passing away and being stuck with huge medical bills. He was qualified to be a member of the credit union; so I told him to come down and apply for a loan, but you will probably get denied--but I review all the refused loans. We approved the loan at a certain interest rate, but if he made 10 payments on time, we dropped down the interest rate, and if he made 10 more payments, we dropped it down again; 10 more payments, we dropped it down again. After he did that, we’d lock in the final interest rate on the loan until it was paid off. He requested that he was allowed to pay it off early. This allowed him to pay off his credit cards, keep his house, and his truck. We also set him up with a list of creditors to call to write off some of the medical debt. Three of five companies wrote it off and the others waived the interest fees.

That must be a big risk for the credit union…
Oh yeah, but he’s the type of guy who’ll walk 20 miles to pay back a penny. I knew that about him, so I took a chance on him when he needed it. Now his two kids joined the credit union as well.

##

Originally chartered in 1937 as the J-M Employees Federal Credit Union for employees of Johns-Manville, the Board of Directors changed the name to Manville Area Federal Credit Union in 1986. Now, anyone who lives, works or worships in the borough of Manville, N.J. is able to become a member and enjoy the benefits of Manville Area FCU. The credit union, which celebrated its 80th anniversary earlier this year, exists today, just as it did in 1937, to provide affordable services to help improve our members’ financial well-being. For more information, visit www.manville.org or call 908-526-8844.