Member Success Stories

How a 25 year old First Time Home-buyer Workshop attendee successfully purchased his first investment property 

young homebuyer in front of new home

Freddie, an attendee of ASII First Time Home-buyers Workshop purchased his first home at the age of 25. With the help and assistance provided by financial counselors, Joseph Roberts and Johnathan Moody, Freddie was able to successfully become the home owner of a 2-bedroom 2-bathroom duplex. We sat down to talk with the young real estate investor about his home-buying experience and how the First-Time Home-buyer's workshop has helped him along the way. 

What lead you to purchase your first home?

Iíve always wanted to get into real estate and investing. When I used to work at a bank, I would speak with plenty of successful real estate investors, they would tell me, "buying a multi-family home is the way to go.Ē That was one of the main reasons why I purchased the duplex.

young man listeningHow long did it take you to find the home you wanted?

It took me less than 5-6 months. The duplex had been on the market for less than a month. My real estate agent suggested we make an offer soon because of the area the home was in and we didnít think it would stay on the market for very long.

Were there any challenges you faced during the home-buying process?

This is actually my second time going through the home buying process. The first time was when I was about 20 years old. I had a different real estate agent, and I didnít do any first-time home buying classes. Luckily and unluckily things just didnít work out for me and so I decided to go back to school and try again once I graduated.               

How would you describe the first-time home-buying workshop?

Joseph and Johnathan provided me with a great amount of information and advice during the workshop. They made the home buying process extremely easy for me. I thought I knew a lot about buying a home but when I took the class, I found that there was a lot I did not know. They are very talented and knowledgeable financial counselors.

young man signing papersWhat was one thing you enjoyed most about the First Time Home-buyer's Workshop.

The one-on-one counseling. They teach you about your credit scores, help you figure out how you use your work wages, how much you are spending a month and they come up with a plan.

What advice would you give to a potential first-time home-buyer?

Go in with an open mind and donít be intimated by all the information they give you during the workshop. They are there to help and answer any questions you may have. Even if you feel like you know a lot about home buying you should still take this class. I thought I knew a lot, but after taking the class I discovered that there was so much I did not know. I would even suggest that a person that has been through the home buying process before still take the class. Johnathan and Joseph do a great job with providing you with instrumental information to help you achieve your home buying goals.

Freddie is very excited about his first-time home purchase and doesnít plan on stopping here. Within the next 20 months he plans on being the owner of not one but two duplexes. If you are interested in signing up for a home-buyerís workshop visit asharediniative.com.

 young man in front of new home




Financial Advocate Toni

Nicole an ASI member for over 29 years is a frequent user of the drive-up lanes at Harahan, but due to an extensive amount of transactions, she decided to go inside the branch to seek assistance one day. There she was greeted by Financial Advocate, Toni. "I had at least four transactions, this day,Ē says Nicole. One of her transactions was a wire transfer in which to pay a mortgage off. She had never wired money before, but with the help of Toni, the process was made easy. "Toni took her time, explained things to me and was very patient. She displayed exceptional customer service skills and handled the transaction in a timely manner,Ē said Nicole.

"Hearing such positive feedback from Ms. Nicole made me feel very excited about the customer service I provided. She was a pleasure to work with. Since the wire transfer was something new for her, I could tell she was a bit concerned and wanted everything to be organized, but I was able to guide her step by step and get her paperwork in by the cut off time,Ē said Toni.

Toni has been a part of the ASI Team since September of 2018. A newbie to the financial world, sheís gained substantial knowledge that helps her assist members.  "I always feel a high level of satisfaction knowing that Iíve helped at least one person in the community push forward in accomplishing their financial goals,Ē Toni.  





How a proud ASI Member is bringing unique homes to the Hoffman Triangle

Nick in Wood Shop

Nick Conner, contractor and owner of a custom wood work company, Conner Millworks, has been a proud ASI member since 2018. He was referred to the credit union to obtain a loan to help build and restore properties in the Hoffman Triangle, his business location for more than 6 years. In less than a year, with the assistance of ASIís Commercial Lending team, Nick completed two rental projects. He transformed a single family abandoned home into a two-bedroom two-bath duplex as well as completed construction on a duplex with a modern architectural design guaranteed to catch the eyes of passersby. 

We sat down to talk with the 2018 Historic Preservation Award Winner about his vision of bringing unique homes into the Hoffman Triangle, the challenges heís faced, his companyís future, and more.

S Rocheblave HomeWhat was the influence for the designs of your rental properties, especially the one on South Rocheblave?

I spent a lot of time being thoughtful about my spaces, and I wanted to build something different thatís interesting to people of all walks. Something designed doesnít have to be expensive and you can be thoughtful and make affordable housing thatís visually appealing and attractive. I wanted to create something where people can instantly walk in and be like someone thought about this and immediately want to be a part of it.

The house on South Rocheblave was a collaborative design with an architect friend. At first the house looked really strange because it was just a weird stick structure. But as soon as the siding was added I started receiving phone calls, people were stopping asking for my number, people wanted to rent it and buy it. When it was finished it was rented out almost immediately. I was thrilled with how the home came out.

How would you say your investment properties affect the community?

It helps hold the neighborhood together, encourages new positive growth and maintains the integrity and fabrication of the neighborhood. Iím trying to find a way to make the neighborhood nicer but not gentrify and kick people out. Keep the same people here and bring more. If you price things really high in a neighborhood you wonít be able to keep the population thatís there now in their homes.

What was the process like getting the funds needed for your investment properties?

S Roman Home

Some of the properties I purchased were through tax sale. Essentially the titles are good and clean, but  they are considered higher risk. So, I was talking to a builder friend of mine, about who would finance a home like this and he said to call ASI. I called Tom, ASIís Commercial Loan Officer and he said he had no problem with it. When I met with him we talked about my vision and he mentioned to me how well it correlated to ASIís.

What has been one of the biggest challenges youíve faced with your rental properties and how have you overcome it?

The biggest challenge is trying to balance my design taste with also being on a budget. I try to find things that are appropriate for my design and intent. But also, wonít make the rent go up. Itís always a fine line when Iím trying to build a quality interesting space for people to live in but also affordable.

Would you say ASI has helped you accomplish your goals of creating interesting spaces for people to live?

Yes, without ASI I would still be dreaming. I mean that in all sincerity. ASI, Tom and Lacey, have helped me transform my vision and dream into an actual reality.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs with similar dreams?

The best advice I can give to a young person starting out is to plan as much as possible and to ask people who know more than you as many questions as possible. Surround yourself with people who know more than you. My first day on a really big job, there was an older contractor who was retiring who told me, "The best thing I can tell you to do is to stop talking and listen more.Ē That has really stuck with me.

What are your plans for the neighborhood?

My mission right now is to build five doubles in the Hoffman triangle, after that I want to use the revenue Iím earning to beautify, and then network and encourage other builders to come over and build. I plan to start building my third property in the next couple of months.

When Nick isnít working in his wood shop or on his rental properties, you can find him working in his garden. The Garden Ďa piece of the country brought to the cityí, is his way of having more control over the quality of his food. In the future, he will extend the use of the garden to his tenants by building raised beds for additional crops and adding chickens for fresh eggs.  

Nick in front of Garden

If you are ready to begin your property investment dream, our team of commercial loan officers are here to help. To learn more about our loan offerings please visit our website at https://asifcu.org/business-loans


Esmeralda helped save a member over $450 on a car loan.

Financial Advocate, Esmeralda Mata-Cruz

One of our newest members, Juan, visited the Harahan branch to apply for a home improvement loan with our Member Service Representative, Esmeralda Mata-Cruz. At the time Mr.Juan was paying $1095 a month for his truck which he purchased through a local dealer. After listening to him, learning more about his financial needs and with a click of a few buttons, Esmeralda was able to refinance his truck at a much lower rate, saving him $450 each month.

 With a smile on his face and extra money in his pockets, Juan left ASI Federal Credit Union knowing we are not a service provider, but a partner dedicated to his financial stability.

 "It was a pleasure assisting Mr. Juan! Hearing the excitement in his voice when he found out how much we could save him on his auto loan brought a smile to my face. Itís moments like these that make me realize how much I love my job and how much of an impact I can have on someoneís life by simply helping them save on their month to month expenses,Ē said Esmeralda.

 Esmeralda has been a part of the ASI Team for over seven years. Beginning her career as a teller, she was promoted to Member Service Representative and is now currently a Loan Processor. She also participates in several community activities including teaching ASIís Credit and Budgeting seminars in Spanish through the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

 


How a Dance Enthusiast Builds her Dream Studio with the Help of 

ASI Federal Credit Union

Lori Weil from the Creative Dance and Music Studio

Instructor, Director, Dancer, wife and mom, Lori Weil is the owner of Creative Dance & Music Studio in Harvey, LA and longtime member of ASI Federal Credit Union. Founded by her mom in 1985, Lori took over the business in 2004. She has spent the last 14 years living her dream and teaching children the art of dance, tumbling, and music. After taking over the business she added an additional location, but soon downsized to one larger location to accommodate the needs of her students and growth in class size. Due to extensive growth and changes in the area, Lori was faced with the decision to remain in her current space or move her business to another location. With the help of ASI Business Lending team, Lori is now building her first stand-alone studio.

We sat down to chat with Lori about her road to entrepreneurship, challenges of building her own studio, and how ASI helped turn her dreams into a reality.

How do you feel about your new location compared to the old location?

The new location is a place that we found and can call our own. Itís more welcoming, itís clean, itís safe, itís a good environment. We have more control over our surroundings as far as assuring that the parking lot is well lit, and everything is working properly.  When youíre located in a place with 5-6 other stores you donít have as much control.  

Creative Dance interior 1
Creative dance interior 2

How would you describe the process of getting the funds to open your new studio?

I partnered with a community development commission that held an event called "Meet the LendersĒ and Thomas Druen (the commercial lending manager of ASI), was there. I didnít think that ASI did construction commercial loans, so when I saw their sign at the event the first thing I did was walked over and started chatting with Thomas. We talked for about 30-40 minutes, he knew that I had been a member for about 30 years, he knew about my numerous accounts and loans, he understood what I wanted to do and that was pretty much it. I would say having that long-term relationship with the credit union made things super easy compared to some horror stories Iíve heard about people trying to secure loans like this.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned with growing your company?

EVERYTHING takes twice as long, and cost twice as much for sure. Donít take yourself too seriously. Never stop because the next day can be completely different.

What type of impact would you say your studio has on the community?

We really want to give kids a place where they can come in and be just that, kids. We have a great group of teachers and staff that provide quality education to our students in an age appropriate and family-oriented environment, something that is huge in the dance and art world. Also, the new studio doesnít just benefit my students, it creates job opportunities for those working in the construction industry.

What would be some advice you would give to an entrepreneur wanting to open their own business?

Plan ahead! Have a good business plan. Have funds prepared, because everything costs twice as much as what is planned for. Know your vision, mission and purpose and stick to that because sometimes you will find challenges that will make you want to branch off. It is good to have something to stick to so that you know why you want to do it and what you are doing it for.

Creative Dance Studio New Construction

 The New Creative Dance and Music Studio will be completed beginning of 2019

If you have plans of expanding your business or are looking for business banking solutions, CLICK HERE today to learn about the different loans and solutions we offer at ASI FCU or contact our main office in Harahan to set up a meeting with our Business Lending Team.



fleur de lily Owners

Fleur De Lily Rivertown Café

When Richard Molina married his wife Lilian and had her move to the United States from their native Honduras, he had no idea she was an accomplished Pastry chef. "My wife, when I married her, I didnít know she knew how to do all these things. Iím an engineer but when I asked her what she wanted to do, she said she wanted to open her own business,Ē states Molina, Manager, and Owner of Fleur De Lily Rivertown Café. They opened their business in 2013 and spent 3 years in a rented commercial space in Williams Boulevard. However, in 2016, their landlord raised the rent. "Our landlady wanted to raise the lease by $850.00. It was too much, we were not in business to be working for her so we decided to close the shop and look for alternatives,Ē Richard explains.

fleurdelily_cafe

According to Richard, finding a source of business financing was an easy decision, "We knew about Tom Druen from businesses, so when we decided to move we were ready.Ē Tom Druen, ASI Federal Credit Unionís Commercial Lending Manager, helped the Molinas out in many aspects of their commercial loan. Richard Molina says ASI Federal Credit Unionís lending process with ASI Federal Credit Union and Tomís diligence provided a streamlined and easy process. Richard states, "The interest in the loan was great and Tom took care of everything. After we completed our application, Tom helped us with everything we needed to get approved and funded.Ē

The new location at 325 Williams Boulevard, just one block from the river in Kennerís historic Rivertown District, is now the home of Fleur De Lily Rivertown Café and Restaurant.

"We decided to take a chance and invest here along with the financial assistance from ASI Credit Union. Small businesses are the backbone of America. ASI was born from the hard work of members, and in turn, we needed your financial assistance to grow. We put the hard work, sweat, and tears into our business and with you, together, we make dreams come true.Ē



ASI Member - New Orleans, LA - ASI Federal Credit Union

"Homelessness is when someone goes through a series of events and canít recover quick enough,Ē shares Jessie P. "Homelessness can be anyone. They donít look any different from any other personĒ. For more than a year, Jessie was considered chronically homeless due to his life on the streets, coupled with a chemical dependency. One cold evening, Mr. Jessie laid on his card board, and with nothing other than his clothes on his back to keep him warm, decided he needed to make a change. Jessie was introduced to an Ozanam Inn homeless recovery program that would change his life forever.

"The Ozanam Inn was my sanctuary,Ē Jessie asserted. During his stay, he was introduced to a job assistance program which required him to save 80% of his paycheck, and use the remainder for essentials. Jessie mentions, "when I left the Ozanam Inn, I knew I needed to find a financial institution to help hold onto my money so I wouldnít be tempted with going back to the streets. I checked around and found ASI Federal Credit UnionĒ.

Jessie joined the credit union in 1998, built his credit and resolved the challenge of living paycheck to paycheck through a few loan products including the ASI Stretch Plan and signature loans. He states, "The staff is so wonderful. I tell them about a problem I have with my finances, and they help me resolve them. They treat my money as their own.Ē With a debt consolidation loan from ASI, Jessie gained control of his spending habits, later qualified for his first mortgage, and purchased his first home to provide a roof over his daughterís head.

To all who meet him, Jessie is living proof that rehabilitation is attainable. He now works with the Ozanam Inn with an unbridled dedication to help as many men, women and children struggling with homelessness as possible. He is also serving a second 6-year term on the board of directors for Unity of Greater New Orleans, a nonprofit organization which provides services and housing for the homeless. Seeking financial guidance, Mr. Jessie shares how his financial knowledge grew thanks to the resources and support of ASI staff members. Even if he doesnít have a transaction to make, he stops by to say Ďhelloí and chat with the staff. "ASI is like family and they continue to help me grow financially independent, thanks for the second chance.Ē


Robert & Yoshie D.

ASI members Robert & Yoshie Dunning are proud founders of Dunning Management Group-NOLA LLC. Each had a vision of becoming business owners, and bringing Dickeyís Barbecue Pit to New Orleans. In 2014, their first location was open for business at 6005 Jefferson Hwy. The following year, Dunning Management Group took part in the Delgado networking function, where they met ASIís VP of Lending. By 2016, ASI approved a business loan which helped pay off the outstanding loan with a local bank, and reserved the remainder to open a 2nd Dickeyís BBQ location at 3020 Veterans Memorial Blvd.

ASI thrives on being more than just a one-time visit, unlike other financial institutions. Robert stated that with the outstanding member service from the ASI team, Dunning Management Group-NOLA LLC has a third location on the West Bank in the works!
"I know it wouldnít have been possible to do without ASI.Ē - Robert D.


ASI MEMBER TURNS HOUSE INTO A HOME

In a historic neighborhood of New Orleans, where many childhood friends and neighbors have been replaced with new families and small community businesses, lives Cynthia. Expensive remodeled homes line the street, and construction companies have become a natural fixture of the neighborhood she has resided in for more than 30 years.

"After Katrina, a lot of folks who used to live in this area sold their houses to the highest bidder,Ē states Cynthia as she looks across the street to what used to be her family home. "After houses like this are remodeled, they go anywhere from $200 to $700,000Ē. During the time after Katrina many large financial institutions profited from the reconstruction of homes in the greater New Orleans area. High interest rates and fees made it almost impossible for many living in the neighborhood to fix the damage caused by the hurricane.

Over a period of time, Cynthia visited a number of financial institutions in the city to find a loan for the reconstruction of her home. "I wasnít looking to purchase a home,Ē she stated. "I just needed help with fixing it so we could live in itĒ. With each visit, she was met with courtesy, but left with shattered hopes after countless denials for financing.

Finally, she turned to her credit union for help. ASI worked with Cynthia over a short period of time and helped get the construction loan she needed to remodel her house when other financial institutions turned her away.

"I thank ASI for making the process so easy. The mortgage department said they could help me, and they did. I tell everyone I know that ASI helped me when no one else wouldĒ. Cynthia owes the simplicity of the process and the fast turnaround time to her satisfaction. "I thought for sure I would be turned down again or have to wait forever to get a response on my application. From start to finish, the entire loan process took less than I expected!Ē With the renovations, Cynthia was able to triple the value of her home.



SLASHING HIGH INTEREST RATES FROM $482 TO $333

An ASIFCU member came into the Mid-City branch in New Orleans in hopes of refinancing her vehicle from another lender and saving money on her monthly payments. Jennifer, in our loan department, was able to take a deeper look into this member's situation. Around the time our member purchased her vehicle she lost her husband. She had unanticipated expenses relating to his death and medical expenses. We were able to lower her interest rate from 24% to 5.25% which reduced her monthly payment from $482 to $333 a month.

With the high interest rate she had, she made over $20,000 in payments to the lender, of which only about $4,000 went to pay down her balance and $16,000 went to interest.

"Having the ability to help save our members money and teach them how to be prepared for unanticipated expenses is why I love working for ASI" said Jennifer.

 


SAVING OUR MEMBER $110/MONTH

ASI longtime member Betty was living life on a fixed social security income. She was caught in the predatory trap of payday loans. ASII (A Shared Initiative, Inc.) to the rescue! Mr. Joseph recognized her situation and called to see what ASI could do to help. Once the initial interview took place, he realized that our member had been trapped in payday loans for well over 5 years. She was paying the minimum interest amount each month which never lowered the principal amount.

Betty soon found that living on a tight budget, with no room to wiggle, would force her into another payday loan. Upon completing a budget and credit counseling class with ASII, she was approved for a Freedom loan to pay off her three payday lender loans. This saved her $110 a month! In addition, ASI was able to space out her first payment for 30 days to allow her to save that payment.

 


BREAKING THE CYCLE OF PAYDAY LENDERS

ASI member Nicole, who was financially struggling following her divorce in 2013, came to ASI hoping for help. She had started using payday lenders to make ends meet, and owed five different payday lenders more than $1,900. When her direct deposit was deposited into her account, the deposit in its entirety would be withdrawn by these lenders, leaving her no cash for another two weeks. Nicole also had two small loans with ASI, and her student loans were past due.
 

ASI approved Nicole for a $3,500 credit-builder loan for 18 months at 15% interest. As part of the terms of the ASI loan, Nicole also agreed to attend one of ASI's financial education classes called "Path to Financial Freedom." In this class, members learn important financial lessons and tools, including the difference between needs and wants; how to make a budget; balancing a checkbook and avoiding NSF fees; paying bills and avoiding late fees; the true cost of payday lenders; and the importance of repairing your credit.

 
Nicole successfully completed the financial education class and is now on her own path to financial freedom. With her loan, Nicole was able to pay off her other ASI loans, as well as all of the payday lenders. She was also able to bring her student loan payment up-to date. Not only does Nicole now have extra money in her pocket each pay period, but ASI is saving her more than $430 per month in unnecessary payments and interest!
 

 

MORTGAGE MODIFICATION SAVES COUPLE $250/MONTH

In 2013, Mr. Johnson , an ASI Federal Credit Union member, went in to the ASII offices to discuss his need of foreclosure counseling. He and his spouse were delinquent on their mortgage payments, which were $887.92 per month with a fixed interest rate of 6.7%. The reason for default was due to an increase in expenses as a result of a medical illness. Although the Johnson family had sufficient income, the increase in hospital bills created a financial strain for them. In addition, they had also fallen victim to a mortgage relief scam, in which they lost $1,000.

In an effort to try to recoup Mr. and Mrs. Johnson's funds, ASII filed a mortgage relief scam complaint on their behalf. Their loss mitigation packet was submitted on February 8, 2013, and by April 1, 2013, they received a loan modification trial plan agreement. This obligated them to pay $630 as a trial plan payment from May to July 2013. Their successful completion of the trial plan resulted in a permanently modified mortgage. Their new mortgage payment is $630.31 per month with a fixed interest rate of 4%. This saves them more than $250 per month!
 

AUTO PROMOTION HELPS PAY DOWN LOAN

ASI Member Seneca and her husband, both of whom work at Huntington Ingalls and drive back and forth every day, were looking for a new vehicle. They had plenty of miles on their car and needed something newer and reliable. After talking about it for months, they finally decided it was time to purchase.

Seneca filled out a loan application to get a pre-approval so she would know what price range to look in. She then went out and started shopping, eventually narrowing her search to a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. Seneca came into the branch, signed for her loan and was ready to go and pick up her new vehicle.

A couple days later, Seneca came back into the branch and told all of the staff how much she loved her new SUV. Because she had gotten a loan during ASI's "Squeal of a Deal" promotion, Seneca received 1% cash back on her loan! Rather than take the cash, Seneca decided to apply the money towards another loan she had with ASI. Now that's being financially savvy!

 



 

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