When I recently hopped on the phone with Mike to talk about his 25th anniversary with the Walt Disney Company, one of the first things he did was apologize for being a few minutes late to our call: “I apologize for calling you a bit late, I was helping a Member with her account,” he explained, “She told me she had concerns, that she’d never be able to get approved for anything. But I was able to take a look at her situation and realized that we’d be able to help her out. She’s now looking at paying about $130 less per month. She left really really happy.”
It was easy to gather from our conversation that Mike’s favorite part of his job working our Members. For the past 15 years, he has been working at our branches throughout the Orange County market, most recently as a Member Service Representative in our Harbor Pointe Branch; he has certainly made many financial dreams come true in his time. “I love being able to help and getting to see the benefits that I’m able to bring to them. That’s what makes it so enjoyable for me,” he said.
It’s no wonder that Mike loves working with Members at our branch located backstage at Disneyland: he started his Disney career working in the parks himself: “I started out working on Main Street, U.S.A., for the restaurants. It’s funny,” he said, “because the place where I met my original trainer is about 30 yards away from where I’m sitting right now. I could open up that window right now and I could see right where the trainer met me on day one.” Because he worked in the park for so many years, Mike is easily able to relate to his Members. “It really is like an instant connection,” he explained.
Mike worked at Disneyland exclusively for seven years, beginning in high school, and then began looking to transition, hoping to challenge himself career-wise. He ended up working at a bank during the day, while also keeping a few shifts at Disneyland. Eventually, he applied to his job at Partners via The Hub, and has been working here since 2000. “I applied and was able to combine the two jobs I was working under one. So it worked out great,” Mike said.
When working with Members, Mike provides honest and compassionate service. “Seeing where I can help Members has always been my priority, and I do everything I can to try to help,” he explained, “They took the time out of their day to come in here to see us. So I want to give them the best service possible. I don’t want there to be any secrets. I show them the underwriting page and just say, ‘Hey, these are some of the challenges, this is what we’re working towards, and let’s see if we can help you out with it.’”
After chatting with Mike, it was clear to me that he loves his job and excels at it. At Partners, he’s found a role that is both challenging and rewarding. There’s nothing he loves more than interacting with our Members, and to top it off, he’s got that view right outside that reminds him of where he began his Disney journey.
But his story’s not over yet; Mike might find himself on the streets of Main Street, U.S.A. a bit more often in the upcoming years. “My wife and I have a baby girl, she’s going to be seven months old. And yesterday, we took her to the park for her third visit. She had on a little Minnie Mouse costume, and my wife really wanted her to meet Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse while wearing it. So that was the objective of the day yesterday!”
Thank you, Mike, for your amazing work at Disney, and congratulations on 25 magical years—here’s to many more!
by Sarah B. at Partners
Ducks quacking, dragon flies buzzing, and the gentle sounds of running water. Those are the sounds of the Rivers of America waking up at 5:15 AM. As the sun slowly makes its way up over the top of Tom Sawyer Island, teams of cast members gather together to compete in this year’s Canoe Races.
After a two year hiatus due to construction at the Disneyland Resort, the Canoe Races are back! From June to August, teams practiced and went through qualifying trials to be able to compete in the finals that took place this week. Partners had an amazing opportunity to support this event and got a firsthand glimpse at all the fun and the early morning prep work that goes into it.
When you are used to “banker’s hours,” a 4:00 AM wake up call is not part of your usual routine. But volunteering to help with this year’s Canoe Races was something I could not pass up, even if it meant getting a little less sleep.
Over the course of two weeks, a team of about twenty Partners cast members started their days at dawn on the Rivers of America to volunteer in any way needed to support this super fun event. My personal favorite job was to post up on Tom Sawyer Island watching teams race carefully around the island, particularly watching out for any teams that hit a buoy or rock with their canoe, which meant instant disqualification. Other Partners cast members had jobs taking photos for teams, helping with merchandise tables, and cheering on the competing teams.
This week’s finals brought a new experience: getting to see the joy and excitement as the canoe racers’ family and friends were allowed into the park before opening to watch their favorite teams compete for the top prize. Rowing one of those canoes is hard enough–but making sure to make your friends and family proud? Well that’s a noble challenge.
After everything was said and done, winners were crowned, and cast members began to get ready for their day ahead where they would help make magic for guests. For me, I get to go through the rest of my day knowing that I have already experienced some magic thanks to the adventures of the morning, the amazing cast members that made up the canoe teams, and the Cast Activities crew that made it all possible.
I can’t wait for next year! Maybe I’ll be in one of those canoes myself!
by Erich F. at Partners
Our builder representative had told us that we were going to have prime view of Magic Kingdom fireworks from the house, and so on July 3rd, we took a trip over to our future home site to experience the Independence Day Firework Spectacular. Our family was surprised to see how clearly we could see and hear the beautiful show from the front porch. We could even hear the train’s whistle distinctly. The perimeter firework show didn’t disappoint. It is really going to be a magical place to live when we are finally in our home.
The Private Inspection
As mentioned in my previous update, we hired a private inspection company to come to the work site to review the work done thus far. We did this for our own peace of mind since we are obviously not experts in building homes. When we arrived at the house, the inspector was already there busy at work checking the framing in the garage area and taking lots of photos for his report. The construction site had been cleaned and prepared for the pre-drywall meeting. By now, the drywall had also been delivered and awaiting installation. All the electric lines had also been installed. The inspector took his time to point out a few things he noticed along the way.
The inspection took two hours to complete and, in the end, the inspector shared that the house was well built and that there were just some minor comments he would note in his report. For us, it was a huge sigh of relief knowing we were going to have a well-built residence in the end. The inspection company had the report completed by the next morning before the pre-drywall meeting so that we would be able to share with the builder.
The Pre-Drywall Meeting
The meeting took place at the house the next day. Once the Project Manager (PM) and our real estate agent arrived, the meeting began with a description of every detail of the house, starting with the exterior. Thankfully it was a cloudy day because it was really warm and humid that day.
As we walked in the house, I happened to look down by the sliding glass doors and to my surprise there were a couple of raccoon hand prints made while the concrete was setting. I found it hilarious and had to take a photo of it to print and frame. Once in the house, we went through every room, focusing on every outlet (what they did and didn’t do), plumbing pipes, etc. We pointed out that two additional outlets we had added to the drawings were missing, and he noted the locations with a thick marker for the electrician to have them installed right away.
We then proceeded to the second floor and checked items in the laundry room including the gas line for the dryer. We learned that because we did not purchase the washer and dryer directly from the builder, we would need to have the gas company come to install a special valve so that when the dryer is installed, it can be easily connected. The builder’s only responsibility would be to bring the gas line to the location in the laundry room. Thankfully our PM explained this to us so that we are not surprised with additional expenses later on.
The PM made notes of any item brought to his attention so that those would be resolved prior to drywall install and the meeting finished with us signing off on all the findings.
Last Saturday, we drove by to check on the progress and were delighted to see that the insulation had been installed and had already passed inspection. They are now ready to put up the drywall. Now all the detailed work begins. More pictures and stories coming soon.
by Enrique D. at Partners
Twice a year the Disneyland Resort motivates cast members from every department to create Military Care Packages for our troops deployed around the globe. Many teams participate with the goal of creating Care Packages that will inspire comforting thoughts of home, and provide treats or luxuries not readily available out in the field.
This May marked the third time that a team from Partners got together to show our appreciation for our troops, and support our sponsor all at the same time. The Katella Branch team started the effort last year under the leadership Daniel R. We continued the effort with a wider scale of participation this year, hoping to break our personal record. Under the leadership of Sophia C. from our TDA Branch, the entire Partners Anaheim team pulled together this time to create over 300 care packages!
Anaheim branches pulled together to donate monetary resources to purchase all the items needed for the packages. Some of our cast members have either current, or former members of the Armed Services in their families, all of whom provided important feedback about what our troops might enjoy while deployed overseas. Our Care Packages contained sunflower seeds, chewing gum, blow pops, granola bars, sour patch kids, and the most important item for any Southern California native…Tapatio hot sauce!
Our Katella branch team played an important role in the preparation of the care packages. Tellers stamped and signed 300 postcards, which each package has, as a small reminder that those of us here at Partners are thinking of them. Over the course of two days, member service representatives, tellers, and leaders, all pitched in to stuff bags, box, and deliver our packages to TDA for collection.
It was truly a team effort for the Anaheim region that yielded amazing results. We look forward to the next Care Package Drive in November, and hopefully we can break another Partners record with more participation and even more Care Packages! It’s a small thing to do to show our appreciation for the brave men and women that protect us, as we continue to do our part in making dreams come true here at the Disneyland Resort area. We thank everyone who contributed and helped, and we look forward to working closely with our sponsor to continue the tradition of thanking our troops in every way that we can.
by Jasmin C. at Partners
This past Saturday, 2200 eager runners and joggers arrived bright and early to the Disneyland Resort for the Be Well Cast Member, Friends and Family 5K. Cast Members, along with their friends and family, were invited to join in on the exclusive course through Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Participants enjoyed running down Main Street U.S.A, meeting some of their favorite Disney characters, and getting the chance to celebrate the parks with their Disney family. Diego B., a cast member in our Katella branch, shared his thoughts on this magical event:
“The cheers. The excitement. The magic. I was so thrilled when the opportunity was presented to sign up for the 5K run for cast members, their family, and friends. I was fortunate enough to share this with my Partners family. I couldn’t believe I would run through the park seeing the sun rise. It’s really exciting to be a part of something new and something that I thought I would never do. Coming from a family who has dedicated their time to running marathons around the world, it was a huge accomplishment for me to receive my first medal. I crossed the finishing line at 56 minutes. As I heard many cheers, I felt satisfied to know that I had accomplished another personal goal. I would like to thank Sophia C. for encouraging me to try something new. With Partners, all you dreams can come true.”
Congrats Diego and all of the other Cast Member, Friends and Family 5K participants!
by Sarah B. at Partners
Partners is proud to announce our 2018 Partners Annual Scholarship Recipients! Congratulations to Shannon S. and Brian H., who will each receive a $10,000 award to put towards their education.
Shannon will be attending University of California, Davis in the fall, with a focus on Animal Sciences. She is an accomplished student, having taken six Advanced Placement classes, and is a member of numerous honor societies such as the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta National Mathematics Honor Society, and the National Science Honor Society. Shannon is passionate about community service, having logged over 1,700 hours with various volunteer groups, with a focus on helping special needs children and animals. In her own words, “what began as simple ‘volunteer opportunities’ quickly transformed into a love for serving others, and a level of human understanding I never thought possible.”
For the past two years, Shannon has been an intern at a veterinary hospital, which solidified her interest in becoming a veterinarian. “As part of my education, I plan to pursue research opportunities to study the benefits of animals collaborating with special needs children to enhance their treatment processes,” she explains, “I have a passion for exploring innovative methods in veterinary medicine, with a goal of helping both animals and special needs children. I am thrilled to be attending a university that is world renowned for both research and animal science. I could not be at a better place to begin this tremendously exciting journey toward my vision.”
Brian is also an accomplished student—he is an AP Scholar with honors and is a member of the California Scholarship Federation, a group that seeks to recognize students who possess high standards in academics. He is very involved in his community, volunteering his time at Habitat for Humanity, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and the Special Olympics. He is the cofounder of the Research and Development Club at his high school, and is also a member of the Investment Club, and the Robotics Club. This fall, Brian will be attending the University of Miami, where he hopes to conduct research on battery technologies in order to start up a company after college with his two good friends.
Brian is an avid entrepreneur and throughout high school, he and his friends worked on many innovative projects: they “built an arc welder from scratch, researched and developed zinc air and aluminum air batteries, developed an electric skateboard that could do 45 mph with a better battery and cheaper price than our only competitor, worked with Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, and raised just under $10,000 in crowdfunding on Kickstarter for our product, Carbonet Zero, a device that captures carbon emissions.”
In college, Brian and his friends hope to continue fostering their passion for cutting-edge technology, focusing their efforts on grid storage, which as Brian explains, “is the key to advancing the world’s use of renewable energy and will play a significant role in the development of our future here on earth.”
Congratulations again to Shannon and Brian! We wish all of our applicants the best of luck in their future educational endeavors.
by Sarah B. at Partners
Buena Vista Plaza Gets a Facelift!
Partners is excited to announce the refurbishment of its Buena Vista Plaza branch in Burbank! The branch has received a well-deserved makeover, including new carpeting, a fresh coat of paint, new lighting fixtures, and new furniture. The updates have given the branch a fresh, modern look while also making it feel more Partners. We’ve said our goodbyes to the beloved orange and green color scheme, and are happy to welcome the sleek Partners red and grey to BVP! To top it all off, BVP received a brand-new Partners sign for its lobby.
This refresh has, most importantly, made improvements to the Member experience within the branch. BVP has received 20 new chairs for Member seating, as well as four brand new lobby chairs. “The new lighting fixtures are beautiful and really brighten up the lobby,” explained Marc, the branch’s Facilities Administrator, “which is great for our Members because the old lobby was kind of dark. We really wanted to focus on making our branch feel open, warmer, and more welcoming.”
Make sure to visit us at BVP to see the beautiful renovation in person–we hope to see you real soon!
by Sarah B. at Partners
Recently, cast members gathered at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank for an insightful panel discussion on the current financial market, hosted by Partners Retirement and Wealth Management (PRWM). As moderator of the discussion, Royce, the VP of Marketing here at Partners, opened up with a question that has likely been on everyone’s mind recently, “What really is going on with the market?”
Luckily, there were two great experts on hand to help answer this big question, our Executive Wealth Advisor, Stuart Ng, CFP® and special guest LPL Financial Assistant Vice President, Colin Allen, CFA. “I think there’s good news and there’s bad news,” Colin began, “the good news is that this is normal, the bad news is that normal doesn’t always feel so comfortable or so good. It’s important to frame this volatility in the context of where we’ve been and where we’re going. What we’re experiencing now is just the way markets behave in a normal environment.”
This question sparked a thoughtful discussion where Stuart and Colin covered a range of topics, from retirement portfolios to cryptocurrencies. The conversation helped clear up common misconceptions, provided thoughtful advice on how to navigate the market, and encouraged cast members to think about their individual financial strategy in light of their long-term goals.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates. Partners Federal Credit Union and Partners Retirement and Wealth Management are not registered broker/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial.
by Sarah B. at Partners
June 12th is a day that will forever be a day of remembrance for the 49 victims lost in the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. On this day, two years ago, the Central Florida community came together as one and continues to come together still. Today, the Walt Disney World community of cast members had an opportunity to do just that: come together to spread hope, unity, and peace during a remembrance event held for the victims and survivors at Mickey’s Retreat. The event, hosted by the Walt Disney World Diversity Resource Groups, offered those in attendance words of love and kindness by Maribeth Bisienere, Senior Vice President of Walt Disney World Parks, including a moment of silence as the names of the victims were read aloud by the PRIDE and HOLA Diversity Resource Group leaders, Juliana Trujillo and Carlos Jimenez, followed by a moving musical number by the Orlando Gay Choir.
In an effort to continue to spread kindness today and every day, all attendees were also provided with kindness cards and encouraged to give one to a colleague, friend, or family member.
“We cannot undo the past. We cannot change what happened,” Maribeth said, “but there’s no doubt in my mind that we can change the trajectory of what happens with the people we touch and the people we speak to. We can inspire hope, we can inspire healing, and every single act of love and kindness and interaction…it does matter.”
by Juliana T. at Partners
Earlier this year, Milton P., the Branch Service Manager of Partners’ Lake Buena Vista branch, celebrated 25 years with The Walt Disney Company. In commemoration of this milestone, I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Milton about his career with Disney.
As I mentioned in my last entry, I only recently started working at Partners a couple months ago, and so this was my first opportunity to meet Milton. I was obviously a bit nervous when we began our brief chat—just from spending an hour or two at the LBV branch, it was pretty clear to me that Milton is everyone’s go-to guy. He is a familiar and friendly face, not only around his branch, but throughout the Disney community. There was so much I wanted to ask him—not to mention the fact that 25 years is a lot of experience to cover in such a short conversation! But I couldn’t help my curiosity, so I asked Milton to simply start at the beginning.
When Milton first started his career, Partners was known as Vista Federal Credit Union. As Milton stated, “I didn’t know about Vista. I didn’t know what the credit union thing was about. My background was in commercial banking. The big difference back then, this was in 1992, compared to what it is with Partners now, is basically how small we were starting out in the back offices at Team Disney.” Partners was so small, he explained, that our cast members were spread out and intermingled with other Disney groups, without our own dedicated space. For those working for Partners today, it’s hard to imagine what this would have been like. The Partners I know has such a large presence around Disney property; today, we even have our own branch at the Partners Building!
As he walked me through his history with the Company, Milton explained that a big reason he loves working at Partners is because of our connection to Disney and the creativity and innovation that comes along with that. As Milton observed, “When I started working at the credit union, I quickly realized that being a part of Disney meant something really important. Disney always has this high standard to uphold. We’re always on top of things. We’re always innovative. The credit union had to evolve and has to keep up with that. So a new service or feature comes out, and Partners is already there, we’re already researching it. We’re already on top of it. I love that.”
Being somewhat of a Disney nerd, I can’t help but think of Walt’s famous quote, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” That tradition of creativity and innovation is embedded throughout Disney. I see it every day at Partners; for example, we were one of the first credit unions to support Apple Pay and we’re moving to an AGILE environment. I come to work knowing that there’s always something new and exciting in development!
As exciting and cutting edge as innovation is, there’s no hiding the fact that Milton’s favorite part of working here is the people and the relationships. As he stated, “I love working at a place where I get to interact with so many awesome people. And they make you feel good. It’s not like they call you up and just say, “Hey, I need something corrected.” Instead, it’s, ‘Hi Milton, how are you? How are the grandkids?’ It just makes you feel like you’re still at home. Sometimes it’s doesn’t even feel like work, to tell you the truth.”
Although Milton would be too humble to ever admit this himself, he provides outstanding service to our Members—he is always kind, thoughtful, and willing to go above and beyond. He always finds a way to help our Members around the clock, even those who arrive to our branch after it has closed. “Just little things, little things like that,” Milton says, “that’s what makes us different from a bank, being able to do that for our Members.” Although I myself have only been with Partners for a short time, I’ve quickly realized that it’s more than just being different from a bank: because we’re Disney and our Members are Disney, we’re willing to go that extra mile for them. That’s how we’re able to create our own Magical Moments.
As we wrapped up our conversation, Milton shared one last story with me. “I had a gentleman in here yesterday who has been with the Company for 40 years—40 years! He works over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and he told me yesterday that he’s getting ready to retire. We had a good conversation about it, and he feels the same way I feel. We’re working with family and cousins. Every day. We love coming to work. He said to me that he doesn’t know what he’s going to do when he’s home and retired and doesn’t get to commute to the most magical place on Earth.”
“We’re all headed in that direction and we all have to retire eventually,” Milton said, in a bittersweet tone, “but working for this company just does something to you, it lightens your life. And now after working here, I don’t think I can work anywhere else.”
Thank you again, Milton, for your kindness and generosity, and congratulations on 25 wonderful years! As I look forward to my own future with the Company, I can’t wait to see what my next 25 years have in store.
by Sarah B. at Partners
This year, the Puerto Rican community celebrated its second Annual Puerto Rican Parade and Festival in Downtown Orlando, FL. The parade was incredible–two hours of energetic music, colorful floats, beautiful bomba y plena dancers, and a sea of proud Puerto Rican flags. Mickey and Minnie also made an appearance in their horse drawn carriage and were followed closely behind by the Disney VoluntEARS, consisting of members of the Walt Disney World Diversity Resource Groups. As the president of HOLA (Hispanic Organization for Leadership Advancement and Allies), I was thrilled when we were invited to participate in the festivities and knew that getting a chance to celebrate the Puerto Rican community would align perfectly with our goals. HOLA promotes Hispanic/Latino heritage and cultural exchange between all Cast Members and encourages professional and personal development opportunities for its members. The celebration continued after the parade with a festival consisting of Puerto Rican food, music and cultural presentations.
With the growing Puerto Rican population in Central Florida, Disney has continued to provide support to the Puerto Rican community, and this is just another example. Personally, it was great to experience this event and it was such an honor representing HOLA, but what made it better was being able to share the experience with my twelve-year-old daughter. She really loved being able to lead the parade as we held the Disney VoluntEARs banner, but more importantly, she also enjoyed seeing and being a part of a Hispanic culture different than her own. That’s what Disney does: it brings people and families of all cultural backgrounds together to celebrate as one.
by Juliana T. at Partners
Canoe Races of the World (C.R.O.W.)—the much-anticipated annual two-week cast-exclusive Disney tradition dating back to Disneyland in 1963 and Walt Disney World in 1973—was held at Magic Kingdom Park on the Rivers of America May 2-18, 2018.
Sub-titled InC.R.O.W.dibles 2018, cast members from all over The Walt Disney Company participated in six divisions: Men (Pro and Rec), Women (Pro and Rec) and Coed (Pro and Rec). Teams raced around Tom Sawyer Island in a fierce competition among 75 teams. The 35-foot boats used for racing were part of the Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes attraction that closed in 1994. They weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds, and take some skill to maneuver around the course
The annual competition fosters a sense of community among cast members, strengthens relationships, builds camaraderie, is a great team builder and of course, is a way to make fun memories. Getting up extra early to arrive at Magic Kingdom, coordinating teams to row around the island, and clearing the area before guests arrive is no small challenge, and we appreciate all the cast members who bring this event to life. It’s an awesome experience seeing the park as the sun rises, in its peacefulness before it opens to guests and in welcoming the new day on the river.
Partners has loved being part of this competition over the years and is proud to announce that one of its C.R.O.W. teams, “Partn’OARS”, earned the coveted title and bragging rights for the coming year after being named Coed Rec Champion, crossing the finish line Thursday morning with a time of 5:49. Partn’OARS is excited and honored to represent Partners in this achievement!!!
The team rehearsed on dry land with imaginary paddles, chanting “row, row, row,” mentally visualizing ten oars rowing at the same pace, paddles in and out of the water at the same time, running tight lines, all in sync, gliding through the water. Phrases like “5 seconds is a lot of seconds” and “This isn’t an after-dinner row” became the team’s most used funny mottos. Each team is given two practice runs to make any adjustments before competing in the qualifier. The top four teams from each division then move on to the finals.
Partn’OARS rowers volunteered from across the credit union, representing Human Resources & Training, Operations, Payments, Lending, Member Services, Digital Services, Business Development, Risk Management, and Information Technology.
“Our team is comprised of cast members from different departments, but when we row there are no roles or titles. We’re all working towards the same goal, getting to the finish line with the fastest time possible. We build a team, practice and like in any business model set goals, look for opportunities to better our strategy, make and adapt to changes, execute them, and go for the win,” describes Sugeil Velez, a Partners’ Market Area Sales Specialist in Business Development and a member of the Partn’OARS team.
Partn’OARS will attend the C.R.O.W. Awards Breakfast banquet hosted by Disney’s Cast Activities team on Monday, May 21st. Until next year, Paddles Up and Bon Voyage…
by Monica C. at Partners
Over $1 million in Real Estate rebates given back to its Members
This month, Partners has become one of only seven credit unions to reach the “Million Dollar Club”, with over $1 million in rebates given back to our Members!
For the last five years, Partners has worked with CU Realty Services, powered by Home Advantage, to provide our Members with the most valuable and highest quality real estate tools and services–from access to real time property search engines, to being able to work with highly qualified and seasoned real estate professionals that shepherd our Members through the entire home buying process, to helping our Members receive a 20% realtor commission simply for utilizing the service.
On average, Members receive a refund of $1,800, funds which can be utilized to help pay for closing costs or provided directly to the Member to help with the many additional costs associated with purchasing a home.
We understand that buying a home can be one of the most stressful transactions that our Members may go through in their lifetime. As Bradley Tichenor, Vice President of Home Mortgage and Real Estate, explained, being able to offer our Members a service that not only makes buying a home a more positive experience overall, but also gives back, is a win-win for all parties involved.
by Juliana T. at Partners
I was just looking back at some construction photos from early May when the builder broke ground on our lot and compared them with today’s photos. What an amazing feat to get to this point. We were told that once the foundation went up, there would be a lot of development. They were not kidding! Once the outer walls of the first floor passed inspection, the floor to the second level went in, followed by all the interior walls. Then we drove by the lot one weekend and the house already had roof and interior wall framing on the second floor.
The project manager has been sending weekly reports of each step of the process, which has been incredibly educational. Every Monday we get the report with the expectations for the week ahead and so far, we appear to be on target.
In the last two weeks, plumbing lines and air conditioning duct work began. We took lots of photos of where all the pipes go within the wall framing structure. This would be helpful if we ever have any plumbing issues. We did notice a minor plumbing discrepancy in one of our visits. The master bathroom shower was supposed to have two shower heads facing each other. The specific locations for them were discussed in our pre-con meeting and drawn on the blueprints. One of the shower heads was installed facing the shower door instead, which was exactly the reason why we chose to move it. We took photos of the install and emailed the project manager with an explanation. He responded a few days later confirming that the plumber would correct the error right away as per our prior understanding. The roof dry-in (roof waterproofing cover) and a water vapor wrap for the second floor have now been finished. The bathroom tubs and shower lining, hot water lines and air conditioning duct work have also been completed. We even have windows and exterior doors already! According to the project manager, roof shingles and electric lines go in this week.
We are approaching the pre-dry wall meeting time frame, and for that reason, we have decided to hire a private inspector to examine the construction and provide us with a full report. In fact, our real estate agent recommended it. He shared stories of shady construction work that later caused the home owner much more in dollars, time, and frustration. Not to say this would be the case here, our builder has been quite professional, but this is our home, and we have the power to avoid at all cause any future challenges. There is a process we need to follow and have started the conversation with our builder to ensure we align to it. A specific date will be scheduled for the inspection, separate from the pre-dry wall meeting we’ll have later with the builder.
Because building permits and inspections are public record, we visit the Orange County (OC) records online every other day to check on the progress. OC has been on top of all the required inspections and while some of the work has not passed their scrutiny, the builder has been swift to correct the findings. Based on this, there should not be anything surprising in our private inspector’s report. At least, that is what we are hoping for.
In the next few weeks, I hope to share with you how the inspection and pre-dry wall meeting went.
by Enrique D. at Partners
It’s been about a month since construction finally began. The constant rain we’ve had in Florida in the last few weeks has delayed the crew in pouring the foundation slab but one day about two weeks ago, that process was completed. What a relief this was for us to finally see some action. Then last week, the blocks were delivered the day after the foundation set. The blocks went up as if by magic.
A builder representative handling the mortgage closing checked in last week to make sure that we were on track with the mortgage process. Our mortgage advisor, Jackie, quickly responded certifying that everything was in order.
This past Memorial Day weekend, we drove over to see if there was any progress. It had been very gray and windy because of tropical storm Alberto so we did not expect much change. When we got there, we found that all the wood for framing and for the roof line had been delivered to the site. There was a lot of it, everywhere. For the first time, we walked on the concrete slab checking out every detail, looking at all the pipes coming out of the floor and where everything would go. It is very odd, the house felt so much smaller than the model home because there were no interior walls or ceiling. It is hard to get a clear vision of the space without having the interior walls up, something that may happen in the next week, fingers crossed the weather cooperates. We took a bunch of photos for our album and imagined this place slowly becoming a home in front of our eyes. We then walked into the house next door that is about a month ahead in its construction and noticed how much detail work happens behind the walls.
Later that evening, I pondered about the complexity of building a home. Things we take for granted and that makes our lives so much easier take so much work, time and effort to produce. It amazes me how concrete, blocks, wood and other materials can be used together to build something that would protect us from rain, hurricanes, and provide us with security and comfort. The more days go by, I tend to appreciate this house even more, these materials that one day will become our home.
On the next chapter, I hope to share with you more pictures of the second-floor build and roof, along with the wiring and piping that go behind the walls and how it all takes shape.
by Enrique D. at Partners
The pre-construction meeting was just a few days ago, and it exceeded our expectations! We got to the neighborhood about 30 minutes early and took a drive over to see the lot. As we drove near it, we could see that the inspection board sign was already up in front of the lot. At the lot, in front of our eyes, was saw that the dirt had already been leveled, and the shape of the foundation had already been marked with dirt and stakes on all the corners. There was so much emotion at this moment because we couldn’t believe that the home that we had been dreaming about was finally starting to take shape. We snapped some photos, careful not to walk over the lot area that had already been marked, and started posting on Facebook to share the progress with family and friends.
We then drove over to the sales office down the street to meet with the project manager. He was a tall man with a heavy Scottish accent. With the plans in his hand, we walked over to the kitchen in the model home we were in and spread out the large blueprints on the countertop. He took his time explaining how the whole project would take shape, starting with the framing for the foundation, the pour of concrete and then raising the house from there. In the blueprints, we verified any structural upgrades which included an upgraded master bathroom with a free-standing tub, large sliding glass doors to the back patio, niches in two of the showers, and a valet area by the garage entrance to the house. After that, we reviewed the electrical blueprints confirming where the light fixtures would be installed, and any upgrades.
The project manager was very helpful in answering all our questions. We asked if he could give us an idea of the timing for finishing and closing. He explained that once the cabinetry went in, it should be about 60 days from that time to close. This gave us a more realistic timeline, and based on that according to his schedule, we should be moving in the middle of September, if not a couple of weeks before or after. What’s next? There are two more meetings with the project manager: one before dry wall goes in and one at the end to review the home before closing. In the next week, we should have a foundation. We’ll continue to post photos of the process and any additional details. Stay tuned.
by Enrique D. at Partners
Last week, in preparation for our design selection appointment, we were invited to a Design Center open house. There, we met our assigned interior designer and received a folder with a list of prices for everything that is upgradable above any standard option. The design center is heaven for any designer with rooms decorated beautifully in different styles to give their visitors an idea of the finished product. The space also held library-style display walls with an impressive variety of flooring, knobs, faucets, and anything else you can think of for a home. Everything was labeled with levels of quality and price which made it very easy for us to gauge how much upgrades would potentially run. Based on how much we qualified for our mortgage, we were able to estimate how much to spend for upgrades above the price of the home.
Yesterday, we returned to the design center for the highly anticipated scheduled three-hour appointment. The day had finally arrived, and we were obviously ecstatic. Our interior designer set expectations for the day as we gathered at a large working table. Our designer entered everything in her computer starting with the floors going down the list from room to room. We had decided on a fine wood floor for the whole first floor and inquired how much it would cost to add it to the second-floor hallways and master bedroom. We felt the wood floor pricing was higher from what we had seen at some of the big box stores, but acknowledged the pricing included installation and that this higher-quality wood would not be readily available.
The focus was then moved to the kitchen, selecting the colors and styles for the countertops, cabinets, door handles, drawer knobs, faucet, sink, appliances, and even under cabinet lighting. At times it was difficult to decide from so many options and styles available. For example, there were a few quartz countertop options we really liked, since none of the standard options appealed to us. Thinking of resale value, we agreed with a lighter color cabinet and a stunning natural quartz that complemented the wood floors and the cabinetry perfectly. Upgrades were also made from the standard appliances to stainless steel.
Three hours flew by the time we had selected everything for the bathrooms, public areas and even the low voltage system for the whole house. What was really interesting is that we were able to create a central system in which all communication (wi-fi, internet, cable, etc.) were housed, allowing us not having to see any wires, modems, or routers sitting around the house.
Looking back at the day, it was incredibly rewarding with very little disagreements. Was it exhausting? Yes, definitely! The amount of decisions that needed to be made were overwhelming at times. Coming in with an open mind to the possibilities was a good way to think about this day. It made a world of difference. Our interior designer was incredibly helpful answering all our questions and showing us options when we couldn’t make up our minds. Above it all, it was exciting to select the choices for our house interiors and can slowly see it becoming a home in our minds.
By the end of the appointment, our designer gave us a 43-page document with all the upgrades with their cost, listing every item one by one. We went home and reviewed the document carefully to ensure everything aligned with what we had selected and the amount we had set aside for upgrades. We also took lots of pictures of each item by room, which was extremely helpful since there were so many items to review. Luckily, we were close to our target figure, but were unsure on a few items, therefore the time between the first and second appointment allowed us the time to think of this more thoughtfully. Everyone has a vision of what a home should look like, with the best of the best. When one is presented with the reality, how much things cost, it is a little perplexing. It adds up quickly too. Thankfully we were given a credit toward the upgrades which was used up pretty quickly.
At a second design appointment this week, we finalized the selection process by deciding what we wanted to change, remove, or add to the list. With this builder, we are required to provide a 30% deposit from the total cost of all upgrades after we have signed the upgrade contract.
What’s next? We should be breaking ground in about a week and closing around September 24 (trusting there are no hurricanes). We’ll be sharing more of the event when the moment arrives!
by Enrique D. at Partners
This is really going to happen! Just thinking about the day when we move into our new home makes us so emotional.
A few days ago, along with our agent and check book in hand, we went to our appointment with the builder to select our desired lot and home plan. Before our appointment, we walked over to the lot we liked and took our time evaluating it. We looked at where the sun would point during different times of the day. And upon a closer look, we realized that this lot had a pie shape opening, wider toward the back of the house with a beautiful natural conservation area. All of us immediately imagined ourselves sitting in the backyard appreciating the beauty of nature. Just the fact that we would get a premium lot, and that we would never have anything built behind our house, was enough for us to decide that this was the one! We then drove over to the sales center down the street for our appointment.
We found out that the permits to build new construction in Orlando were taking about four months. We were lucky that the model we wanted had already been permitted and were able to start construction within 30 days. This would put us to into a September/October closing, precisely at the end of our lease where we are renting. This is extraordinary!
At the appointment, we asked some standard questions. Our seasoned real estate agent was also able to ask a lot of questions as well, some we had never really even considered. Having lived through several hurricanes, we made sure to ask if the home was in a flood zone, which we knew would affect our insurance rates. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Our agent asked some good questions about discounts and credits. We found out the builder would give us a $7,500 credit toward upgrades, and $3,500 for closing costs if we applied for a loan with their preferred lender—even if we decided to go with a different lender! Of course, we took advantage of that. At this meeting, we also found out there was a Homeowners Association, and that gave us some peace of mind that there will be rules for upkeep of homes and public areas.
The builder’s sales rep was very transparent, able to provide all the answers to help us make the right decision. Our agent took a copy of the contract and read each paragraph as we reviewed it with the sales rep, often describing or explaining something within it that we should be aware. We quickly realized that builder contracts favor the builder greatly but felt relieved knowing that our agent was there to bring up anything questionable.
We signed the contract, initialed every single page while going through all the details, and wrote a check for the initial deposit that would hold our lot and home. This builder required a 5% minimum down payment. We are to provide a balance in a few days.
You cannot imagine how happy and reassured we were to have signed a contract on what will be our next dream home. To celebrate the special occasion, we drove back to the lot and took a picture showing our new patch of land, and where someday soon our home will be.
We are visiting the design center on April 12, stay tuned for the details.
by Enrique D. at Partners
Buying a home can be both intimidating and overwhelming. It was for us when we purchased our first home back in 1999. We never thought that we could afford it. It was not until we researched the options that we were able to make smarter informed decisions about a better future for our family. We are now in the process of buying our fourth dream home and in the next four to five months, we’ll share our home buying experience with you.
Hi, I am Enrique. In full disclosure, I work at Partners Federal Credit Union as the Design and Brand Manager. My husband and I both have made our careers here at Disney since 1994. Last May, we decided to sell our home near Magic Kingdom where we had been happily living for 10 years in order to bring my mother to live with us. She had just turned 75 still working as an English professor and was ready to retire. We researched various options and found some homes in the area with separate apartments above garages that would work for her. We also looked at homes with divided layouts and even duplexes. The reality was that prices for the most acceptable options we had seen were outside of our budget.
We took a weekend a few weeks ago to visit new area communities being built in Winter Garden close to Disney and walked many model homes with our real estate agent. Once we identified the builder and model we liked, we visited them again to view them with more discerning eyes. We looked at the type of neighborhood, distance to work, proximity to shopping and entertainment venues, traffic patterns, noise, quality of materials and finishes in the construction and interiors, lot sizes, space between homes, keeping of public areas (pools, recreation, gardens, etc.), and even how many cars were actually parked on the street.
We made an appointment to meet with our agent and a builder sales person who was able to give us more information on available lots, prices and construction time frames. We went home and discussed the possible options available based on our timeline and decided on a very nice two-story home with a large common area on the first floor and equally large yard that backed into a conservation zone. The second floor was nicely divided into two wings that felt separate enough for my mother to have her independence while affording my husband and I equal space for our privacy. We would be so close to the Magic Kingdom, that we would be able to see and hear the fireworks every night. How exciting!
Our next step was to get a loan pre-approval, but where could we go for that? Hmm, it was a given, we contacted our mortgage advisor at Partners. We were able to get a pre-qualification letter to bring to the builder. This letter could not only solidify a contract with the builder, but also confirm an idea of what we could realistically afford.
We are excited to share this home buying journey with you and invite you to come back in the next four to five months as we go through the whole process of buying and building our next new dream home! In the next entry, I’ll tell you what happened when we went to sign the contract.
by Enrique D. at Partners
Partners is excited to offer our Members for a limited time, the new and exclusive Disneyland Visa® Debit Card. We partnered with Walt Disney Records and their launch of The Legacy Collection to celebrate the music of Disney’s classic animated films. Additionally, our team also got chance to sit down and discuss the amazing album cover art created by Disney artist and Partners Member Lorelay Bové.
A magical experience came to be when Lorelay Bové received the opportunity to re-imagine the visual presentations of such classic Disney movies as The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, and Fantasia. To commemorate these films and the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, Walt Disney Records assembled a compilation album series, featuring re-mastered and remixed soundtracks. Lorelay was commissioned to re-create the cover of each album with a design using the rich colors, textures, and themes of its original edition. Her skills, rooted deeply in the artistic world of animation, had brought her to this moment of a lifetime, an exciting project she could not refuse.
Even as a second grade student, Lorelay knew that she wanted to be an artist. Born in Spain, Lorelay and her two siblings moved to the U.S. when she was 14. Her mother and her father, also an artist himself, encouraged all of their children to explore art. “He would always encourage us to draw and paint,” said Lorelay. “I remember when my father brought me a Preston Blair book. I fell in love with drawing the cartoons. That was the moment I knew I wanted to get into animation.”
Lorelay continued her artistic journey, eventually completing her professional degree at the California Institute of the Arts, also known as CalArts. After graduation, she interned at Pixar, where she created stories using such characters as Hansel and Gretel. When her internship ended, Lorelay had the chance to become a trainee in the program in the art department at Disney Animation Studios. She would go on to become a permanent Cast Member, where she’s worked for the last 10 years.
After receiving the news from her manager that she’d be working on Walt Disney Records’ The Legacy Collection, Lorelay affirmed that she was up to the challenge of producing all of twelve album covers for the compilation. “I was really excited to create and re-imagine the art for those classic films I grew up watching,” said Lorelay. Inspired by her love of travelling and her passion for telling stories, she drafted sketches and captured the essence of the original art in a fresh way in order to, as she put it, “bring the warmth of the Disney films to life.”
Visit your local Partners branch to find out how you can get your own Disneyland Visa® Debit Card.
by Ryan W. at Partners
A Workshop On Finances For Me
As one of my first official tasks as a new member of the Partners Marketing team, I was asked to attend a financial workshop facilitated by my fellow Cast Member Juliana. Primarily, I was there to photograph the event so that we would have images we could use in future articles or on our website. Of course, as Juliana went on to explain, she was excited to have me there because I would be able to get a feel for the types of workshops and education programs Partners offers. Not to mention that it was a millennial-focused workshop, which meant that my 23-year-old self was exactly the target audience. I was pretty curious to see what a “millennial workshop” looked like, and secretly hoped that Juliana wasn’t about to give a presentation full of hashtags, selfies, and memes. You know—millennial things!
I arrived that morning, camera in hand, and helped pass out worksheets and pens. At 9:30, the lights dimmed, and Juliana began her presentation. I took a few moments to really sit back and take everything in; I noticed that, as expected, nearly everyone in the room was around my age. And to my pleasant surprise, I also noticed that Juliana was speaking to the room as she would any other group. While the topic of conversation was definitely geared towards my age group in its focus on building credit now at the beginning our careers, that’s all it was. There were no gimmicks to try to appeal to a younger crowd, and the conversation didn’t feel patronizing or like we were being scolded for not already knowing the information.
I try to keep on top of my finances as much as possible. My dad works for a bank and my mom works in municipal finance, and they definitely instilled in me the importance of financial literacy from a relatively young age. I opened a credit card when I started college so that I could build credit and routinely put away a set amount of money each month. But there’s a lot I still don’t know or understand. I know my friends and I always joke about this, but they really don’t teach us this stuff in school! How much money should I be setting aside for my 401k? But wait a second, what’s the difference between a 401k, an IRA, and a Roth IRA and do I need to pick just one? And believe me, I’ve done all sorts of research on my own, but it’s hard to know what information to trust when you’re constantly bombarded with clickbaity articles such as “11 Things Beginners Absolutely MUST Know About Saving For Retirement” and “20 Things Every 20-Something Should Know About Credit” — to put it simply, it’s all very overwhelming.
So to have a workshop series dedicated to helping people my age, I think that’s pretty special. While Juliana does a fantastic job picking topics that are interesting to us—such as credit, saving for retirement, and protecting your online identity—I think what makes these sessions especially valuable is getting to experience them with a group of likeminded people. All of the participants in the workshop were also just beginning their careers with Disney, and it was amazing getting to see everyone so involved in the conversation. People were taking notes and asking all sorts of question—questions I’d thought of before, but had never had anyone to ask.
When the workshop ended, I felt two things: that I had learned a lot of valuable information, but also that I had found a resource that I would be able to utilize in the process of better understanding and securing my financial future. Which is fantastic timing because I just happened to receive my Disney Benefits package in the mail. And yes, I did manage to snap a few photos as well!
by Sarah B. at Partners
Congrats, you’re a homeowner! Maybe you’re a first-time buyer who has just recently taken the leap into homeownership, or you’re a seasoned pro who has plenty of experience in the real estate game. No matter the situation, your home is likely the greatest asset you have. But how much is your home actually worth? While it’s easy to keep track of your savings and investments, it can be difficult to understand your property’s value, especially in today’s rapidly changing market.
That’s where Partners’ new Find My Home’s Value comes in–a home valuation tool powered by HomeAdvantage™. There are many different factors that influence your home’s value: the neighborhood, the size of the home, and the current real estate market, to name just a few. Unless you’re a professional appraiser or seasoned real estate pro, it can be overwhelming to try and determine the value yourself! We make it easy: simply type in your home address and click “Estimate”.
Of course, this value is an estimate. Based on calculations using local market data, our new Find My Home’s Value tool will present you with your home’s estimated value and the information on comparable properties used to calculate your estimate. And if you’re interested in a more in-depth estimate, you can also request a free, no-obligation market valuation with an agent in our HomeAdvantage™ program.
Knowing the value of your home is a powerful tool; if you’re looking to buy or sell a property, understanding its value will allow you to make smart decisions throughout the process. What if you’re not interested in buying or selling your home? Understanding how much equity you have in your home may help in many situations, such as for insurance purposes, property tax, financial planning for the future, or other home loan options like Home Equity Lines Of Credits. So, what’s your home worth?
by Sarah B. at Partners
We know our Members’ lives can sometimes be busy and hectic, that’s why we’re always looking for ways to make our representatives more convenient and accessible! When you’re already online and have a question or need assistance with your Partners account, who wants to pick up a phone?
With Partners Online Chat, our friendly and knowledgable representatives are just a click away from answering questions about your account, assisting with any loan applications, and more. In fact, our online chat has gotten so popular with our Members, that we are excited to announce extended chat hours for those busy schedules!
Beginning April 2, 2018, our expanded chat service will be available Monday through Friday, from 8 AM ET to 8 PM ET.
We look forward to chatting with you online soon!
by Sarah B. at Partners