A Conversation with Cheryl Westbrook, Loan Officer
October 21, 2019
TMF Loan Officer Cheryl Westbrook is a self-proclaimed 'people person' who is passionate about helping others. She was a loan officer at Heartspring Methodist Foundation for seven years before it formally merged with TMF in January 2019. With an extensive background in banking, real estate, and sales, Cheryl is known for her patience and attentiveness with churches throughout the loan process. By joining TMF, Cheryl has expanded her church relationships from ones solely in the North Texas District to church relationships throughout the Texas Annual Conference from the Greater Houston area to Tyler and Longview, and as far north as Texarkana. Cheryl currently offices in TMF’s Longview office.
Why did you choose to work for a faith-based organization?
I had never really thought about working for a faith-based financial foundation until I was contacted by Heartspring Methodist Foundation in 2012. I wasn’t seeking work, but I was ready for a change.
I wanted to make a difference and I recognized that Heartspring would give me the opportunity to do just that. After a brief phone conversation with the President of Heartspring, C.J. Taylor, I interviewed and accepted the job without hesitation. I knew this was an answer to my prayer and where God wanted me to be. I get to do what I love and what I was born to do. Joining TMF was a natural fit too. I had previously worked closely with TMF staff on participation loans in the past, so I knew that our people and our cultures would blend well with one another. I am very grateful to be a part of the TMF family.
You get to meet with so many churches and help them when they need you most. Tell us about a moment when you were especially proud of a loan you funded?
I have enjoyed working with every single church to help them reach their goals, but there is one church that I was especially proud to work with. Mims Chapel UMC is a small country church in East Texas that was founded in the mid-1800s and is named after my great-great-grandfather, Henry Mims, and his brother John W. Mims. Soon after I went to work for Heartspring, the church contacted me and wanted to expand its facilities by building a new fellowship hall and kitchen. Upon completion of the project, I attended the consecration Sunday with my daughters. It was an especially proud moment for us and the church.
When do you think a church should call you to discuss a project?
My role is to facilitate how a church can make the project happen. I like to get involved when a church is in the early planning stages of a project. By talking to them about their goals, we can help determine if a church needs TMF’s help to fund the project or fundraise for the project — we can do both. Our partnership with Horizons Stewardship connects churches to a fundraising campaign resource, and TMF is here to help with any financing needs a church may have.
What kind of relationship do you have with your loan recipients?
I try to build lasting relationships with churches that focus on quality customer service. I will go above and beyond when a church calls on me and says, ‘I don’t understand how this process works,’ or ‘I don’t understand my statement.’ I often go out and meet with church finance committees and/or trustees to further explain the loan process and to answer any questions they may have. From the beginning to the end, I am available to work with church leaders to achieve the mission of their church.
What makes a church decide to get a loan with TMF versus a traditional bank?
This is what we do. We help Methodist Churches. Our rates are competitive, and we have the ability to offer more flexibility. We know the culture of the Methodist church and we can be more sensitive to the needs of the church.
What do you want people to know about TMF that they may not understand?
This a great organization with experienced staff who genuinely cares. TMF is not only a financial organization, but we are also a partner in ministry with the United Methodist Church.