Down East Credit Union, 92 Lincolnville Ave., is wrapping up branch renovations and invited the community in Sept. 24 to see the changes.

According to Regional Manager Diana Fredrickson, construction began in February and it has been "full steam ahead" for about a half-year. Three offices were added to the Belfast branch along with new signage, a new color palette and new siding.

"The scissors have been sharpened," she said as she reached for the oversized shears to officially kick off the event with the cutting of the ribbon.

President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Moses said they were "reinventing" themselves and doubling down on retention of talent.

"Just two years ago, we had a high turnover rate," he said. In each year since, the rate has decreased. In 2015, Moses said the credit union had a 28% turnover rate, whereas now, the credit union averages around 6.4%, beating the industry average of 18%.

"If we want to be successful," he said, "we have to keep our talent. It's all about taking care of people. Now we can do a much better job taking care of our community."

DECU team members noted some of their favorite workplace activities and perks include giving back to community causes, paid three-day weekends, healthy snacks in the break room, a bonus program and professional development.

For one other feather in its cap, DECU recently was selected as one of the Best Places to Work in Maine for the third consecutive year.

With eight locations throughout the state, including Baileyville, Bangor, Belfast, Calais, Machias, Richmond, Topsham and Unity, the credit union strives to serve the "underbanked."

Moses spoke about DECU's goal of community commitment particularly serving families living paycheck-to-paycheck. Each month the eight branches have meetings to talk about "wow moments" — employees share stories where DECU has made a significant difference in its members' lives. In one instance, the bank team helped a young family who recently had a baby find a new vehicle to replace its broken-down car, with a 3% interest rate and a 10-year warranty, he said.

"She cried when she heard about it," Moses said. "We are excited for Belfast, and all the investments we're making."

In 2018, DECU provided 873 "Life Happening" type loans totaling $3.3 million for such things as heating oil, Christmas gifts, home repairs, college tuition, and medical expenses, to name a few. In 2019, DECU lent out a total of $4.6 million in loans, Moses said.

"We love helping people," he said. "It's people helping people."