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Helping the Bonks Celebrate a First Birthday

Contributed by: Heath Combs

Most of the time, Truliant Federal Credit Union provides members with trusted guidance and a wide array of financial services to help improve their lives, including: mortgages, auto loans, checking accounts, saving accounts, home equity loans, certificates and credit cards.
But every once in a while, Truliant is asked to help with something much more personal.
Walter and Kimberly Bonk, both 46 now, had been married about three years when they decided in 2015 that they wanted to start a family. “With us being older, our odds were low,” Kimberly said. Both had been married previously, but neither had children.
Because of their ages, the Bonks, who live in Graham, N.C., turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF) to increase their odds of giving birth. But even with IVF treatments, the odds were stacked against them.
Success rates vary dramatically by age. In 2013, for example, 4.5 percent of IVF cycles performed in women who were older than 42 resulted in live births.
IVF involves a complex series of procedures to assist with the conception of a child. Costs for a first cycle are about $15,000. Many insurance companies do not cover this procedure.
“When we went for our consultation, they offered us financing through their system,” Kimberly said. “After we got those numbers – which were very high – we decided to check with Truliant.”
Walter’s father was an employee of AT&T Family Federal Credit Union before the name was changed to Truliant. Walter joined the credit union in the early 1990s.
“I remember my dad telling me that credit unions are more conservative about how they lend money,” Walter said. “That tended to make me more responsible. I’ve never thought about going to any where else. Truliant’s always had good car rates and no issues with their customer service. They’ve never done anything to push me away.”
So, on a Saturday in December 2015, the Bonks went to the Truliant office in Burlington, N.C.

“Saturdays are especially busy in the Burlington branch,” said Taylor Potts, who was a Truliant Member Service Specialist at the time. He now works as a lending compliance specialist at the credit union’s corporate office in Winston-Salem.

“The Bonks were waiting in the lobby. I asked them to come into my office and what brought them in. They told me they were looking to get a loan. They said they needed roughly $25,000 or $30,000, but they weren’t sure what they could get.
“That’s not a small request, so I wanted to do a little more digging. I wanted to find out what was going on in their lives, but they were a little hesitant to speak.
“Finally, they said they needed to get an operation done. So I presented a few options. We decided to do a refinance cash-out on their mortgage.”
A refinance cash-out allows an individual to refinance a mortgage – usually at a lower rate – and then access the remaining equity in their home. For the Bonks, this didn’t fully cover the procedure, so they also applied for a line of credit.
“During that process, they opened up to me that they wanted a baby,” Potts said. “I could sense how important it was for them. It was above anything else going on in their lives.”
Potts submitted the application that Saturday, and the initial approval came on Monday.
“Once we got talking to Taylor, I realized we could get a much better rate with Truliant,” Walter said. “Taylor was sharp. He made it so easy. He was on top of his game. He made it seamless. It wasn’t much work on our part.”
Kimberly’s main memory from that meeting was a comment that Potts made at the end of the application process. “‘I’m going to do everything I can to make this happen for you.’ And he did.”
Unfortunately, money doesn’t solve every problem. Shortly after the loan was finalized in January, Kimberly, a self-employed hairdresser, had a gallbladder attack that required surgery. The IVF process had to be delayed.
After Kimberly recovered from the surgery, she received a series of shots to boost her reproductive system and then went through the first round of IVF.
But paying for the procedure doesn’t guarantee success in IVF.
“It was right around $18,000,” said Walter, who works for UPS. “I know when I looked at the numbers I thought, ‘WOW!’ You are spending a lot of money and there’s no guarantee it’s going to work. You say your prayers, put your faith in God and sign the papers.”
The first round wasn’t successful, but during the second round in May 2016 they found out that Kimberly was pregnant. A healthy baby girl, Viviana, was born in January 2017.
“Having Viviana was the greatest dream ever,” Kimberly said. “Just finding out that I was pregnant was a thrill beyond belief, and then the anticipation of waiting for her to get here. It just made our family complete.”
For Potts, the process with the Bonks was meaningful on several levels. He had gotten married in 2014. His wife already had a daughter.
“I could just sense the urgency of their original request,” Potts said. “It pulled at my heart strings. I had been with my daughter for a couple of years and I could sense how big a deal it was for the Bonks. I can really appreciate the desire to have a family.
“The biggest thing for me is to understand is why people need financial help and guidance. Through the power of casual conversation I was able to find out why they needed the money. It was probably the biggest aha moment in my banking career.
“When a member needs a loan, I am their advocate to our underwriters to get loans completed. Members can’t just pick up the phone and call the underwriters in the back room. I am the person who is their connection. So it’s important for me to understand why members need a loan so I can provide the help they need,” Potts said.
And that help is leading to Viviana’s first birthday celebration this month.
“We reserved a building at a city park in Burlington for a big party,” Walter said. “We’ve ordered two cakes: One for eating and one for her to smash.”
It’s been an eventful two years for the Bonks, but Kimberly’s favorite moment of parenthood is much quieter – and more meaningful.
“My favorite time is when I rock her to sleep at night,” Kimberly said. “I just sit and stare at her. It’s my favorite part of the day.”

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