Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and later moving with her family and graduating from high school in Lancaster, Catherine Vorwald still lives and works in the area serving Marine Credit Union (MCU) members face-to-face as a Member Service Representative.
After high school, Catherine studied early childhood education at Southwestern Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore, married and was a stay-at-home mom taking care of their two sons. She spent time volunteering at the kids’ elementary school doing “anything the teacher needed.” Catherine also spent time helping her mother who was taking care of Catherine’s grandmother. “Mom was exhausted,” Catherine shared. “She was a saint.”
Catherine also worked at a bakery for five and a half years until they closed. After the bakery, learning there was a part-time position in Lancaster, Catherine began her career with MCU. “It just worked out well,” she said of the hours. “I had gotten a loan here,” she continued, “a personal loan. My dad and mom banked here.”
Catherine shared that when she divorced, she didn’t have credit or credit cards. “We used cash,” she explained. “It was the easiest divorce ever,” she added but the divorce, she said, “was a definite change in how to function and how secure I was.”
Catherine remembers talking to her representative at MCU and said she felt no judgement. They told her they would help her to get set up, make payments, and build her credit.
And like how they helped her get where she needed to be financially, MCU helped train her in her career as well. “I had no banking experience. No computer. No texting,” Catherine explained. “What were they thinking,” she added with a laugh. “I guess I was not too old to learn new stuff.”
Catherine credits being able to work with MCU members to working in the bakery and her degree in early childhood. “I can talk to anybody,” she shared. “I like people … which helps.”
She said she likes who she works with and enjoys the “random things” that happen at her branch. “It is always something exciting. You never know what is going to happen and who is going to come in.”
The transition from early childhood to banking? “You’ve got to be a little goofy,” Catherine said with another smile. “It is about having fun but keeping it exciting. It works.”
And on a more serious note, Catherine explained that she learned a lot from her own personal experiences that helps her in her current role at MCU. “I can help them get that fresh start too,” she said adding that when she is open to hearing without judgment, it helps her to be more sensitive to members who might be going through a difficult time in their lives.
“Compassion,” Catherine said, “flows into everything else. She said she learned compassion from her mother who cared for her grandma for nine years, even staying with her at a rehab center after her grandmother fell on her cabin floor. “Mom stayed with her at the rehab center,” she explained. “Every couple of weeks, I would go up north for a week and spend that time to give her respite.”
Her mother, Catherine said, was always someone who helped others. “Mom has more compassion and courage than the rest of us,” she said. Is that where Catherine gets her compassion from? “Probably,” she replied. “It is just automatic. I expect everyone to have compassion. I think we need more of that.”