Melissa Mullins & Carrie Susemihl Receive the Paul Matyas Award
On February 19th, at KALSEE’s annual Staff Development Day held at KVCC, Certified Financial Counselor Melissa Mullins and Marketing Manager Carrie Susemihl were awarded the KALSEE Paul Matyas Award, the highest honor a KALSEE team member can receive.
Award winner Melissa Mullins serves members via Aspire Financial Counseling. She works with members to repair or build credit and improve their overall financial health, often being there for them during the most difficult challenges of their lives. She volunteers with the Vicksburg Athletic Boosters.
Award winner Carrie Susemihl works not only in her core role of Marketing Manager, but also in championing new or improved products and electronic services to make members’ lives easier. Since joining the KALSEE team in 2015, her vision has led a reimagining of the KALSEE brand. She volunteers on the board of directors for Tillers International.
The award annually honors an individual (or individuals) whose contributions to the credit union embody the spirit of founder and account #1 holder Paul Matyas, moving the organization closer to fulfilling its mission and vision. The winner must demonstrate a sense of community, an entrepreneurial spirit, perseverance and adaptability, and personal responsibility.
Paul Matyas did so much to better the lives of his fellow co-workers and the community, pioneering the availability and affordability of consumer credit for the hard-working, blue collar people of Kalamazoo. After serving in the United States Marine Corps in WWII and the Korean War, Paul found work at National Water Lift (NWL – now Parker Hannifin). During the heady postwar boom of the 1950’s and early 60’s consumer credit as we know it today was in its infancy and many Americans had to rely on pawn brokers for small cash loans at high rates of interest. While working at NWL, Paul saw co-workers who were often struggling financially to get by until payday or save up enough money to take a family vacation.
To solve the problem, Paul took the lead in organizing and founding the Lift Line Credit Union in 1954. This cooperative venture started small, making employee loans for $5 – $10 to help workers get through until payday; secured with nothing more than a handshake and a promise to repay. Paul’s passion to better the lives of others fueled the success and continued growth of the credit union and immeasurably improved the quality of life of those it touched.
By 1965, the credit union had grown large enough to hire its first full-time employee, Bob Moore, who would go on to lead the credit union as CEO for 40 years. In addition to his supervisory duties at NWL, Paul continued to serve as treasurer for the credit union a total of 38 years, until his death in 1991. As the company prospered the credit union continued to grow and expand its services, eventually becoming the institution we know today as KALSEE Credit Union (Kalamazoo Southeast Employees Credit Union).