“I’m glad you’re part of our family,” was the first thing Bill James, Marine Credit Union (MCU) Chief Risk Officer, said to me in his interview. Bill is clearly passionate about family.
Bill shared he was raised by a single mother. “She was financially challenged … but I never felt I was poor,” he said. “She never showed me that financial stress.”
“My mom grew up in the depression,” he continued. “She lived happily but didn’t have much.” Bill shared that it wasn’t until his mother’s death that he realized how hard she worked to take care of her children. “Mom worked well past the need to retire. She saved up money we didn’t need. That mentality … born out of the crisis,” Bill continued, gave him a great work ethic and a great family ethic. When he had children of his own, he said, was when he realized how challenging it was for his mother.
“I don’t want that for other people. I can feel really good about what I’m doing – working for a company I can feel good about.”
Before coming to MCU, a prior boss reminded Bill, “There is more than just moving up the ladder.” Bill shared he did not have a financial need when a recruiter from MCU contacted him. That recruiter asked him to read up on MCU. “I didn’t know the mission then. I am so glad I crossed that threshold to be here. I’m excited to be surrounded by people who are so passionate. They care about you as a member and are qualified to help people with serious financial hardships.”
His family, Bill said, is what he feels also gave him a strong sense of responsibility to his employees. New hires, he said, tell him they want to work for MCU … that they want to be part of the team. “We give them the tools they need to be successful.”
Bill and his wife Cathy, he explained, have a “blended family. I don’t give my wife enough credit,” Bill shared. “She is a wonderful person. Her servant spirit was present before I met her and much stronger than mine. She is a real inspiration to me. I’m happy she’s my partner in this.”
Between Bill and Cathy, they have six children ranging in ages from 12 years old to 32. “We both wanted to be married. We both wanted a bigger family … so we went down that route,” he said with a smile. “Our plan was to have one biological child and one adopted. It turned into four more.”
Bill shared their first adopted son came from Russia when he was only 10 months old. Afterwards, they learned he had a brother and sister. Between Russia opening and closing the adoption process during that time, they were eventually successful in adopting the other boy and brought him home too. “We saw them in a destitute situation,” Bill shared. “We wanted to get them out of there.”
Bill also shared that they were not able to get their boys’ sister out of Russia. “It’s tough,” he said through tears, “leaving someone behind.”
“We are blessed to be stable financially to help others,” Bill continued. He said that he knows that not everyone is financially able to adopt. “We work with a foundation that provides grants to support employee and member adoptions.” The MCU foundation, he explained, works in partnership with the organization called Gift of Adoption to help people who have run into financial stress trying to complete an adoption.
Bill said MCU promotes giving to others. He shared that he knows many other leaders at MCU who also have a strong desire to give and to serve others … “people with strong servant hearts,” he commented. “It feels really good to be here at MCU.”
Bill explained that the “adoption process stalled out,” due to the pandemic and political issues around the world. But now that things have started to open up, MCU has again been able to help “complete families and enjoy the thrill and value of being a parent.”
“Knowing we are helping others conclude adoption … it’s a beautiful thing,” Bill added.
Bill said that completing families and helping families at MCU is “a big deal for me.” He said a friend taught him that we come into the world with nothing and it’s wise to not leave it on the table. He often asks himself, “What else can I do?”
Bill said that although there has been some sacrifice having to spend some time away from the family he so much loves, he also said that he is grateful to be “helping to lead an organization that helps others.” And he added, “I have no regrets about coming to MCU.”