How One Connexus Member is Making a Difference During the Pandemic

When you think about the characteristics of a hero, what comes to mind? Integrity, passion, courage? Mickey James Hollander, a nurse, veteran, poet, and member of Connexus Credit Union checks all of those boxes. While he’s spent the majority of his life helping others, the work Mickey has done over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic is an inspiration to all of us at Connexus. And we’re honored to have played a special role in his journey to do good.

It all began in March of 2020 when Mickey was working as a nurse at Aspirus Hospital in Wausau, Wisconsin. Upon receiving a phone call asking for his help to battle the COVID-19 outbreak that was overwhelming New York City hospitals, Mickey didn’t hesitate.

“I got the call from a friend of mine in New York,” Mickey said. “He said, ‘Look, you’re a nurse. What are you doing in Wisconsin? We need you here.’”

Without hesitation, Mickey packed up his car and his dog, Russia, and headed out to treat COVID-19 patients at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital. But according to Mickey, he never would have been able to make the 1,000-mile trip without the help of Connexus.

Like most recent graduates, Mickey was burdened by high-interest debt and needed to make his payments more manageable while still working towards becoming debt-free. To that end, just a few days before he received the call to travel to New York, Mickey became a Connexus member. After reviewing his finances and discussing his challenges and goals, the Connexus team designed a personalized, creative solution to help Mickey take control of his debt.

“When we saw his credit report, we noticed Mickey was paying several different creditors,” Connexus team members Kaelyn Weidner and Hannah Gruber said. “We talked to him about a personal loan for debt consolidation and helped him pay off several credit cards. Ultimately, we cut his monthly payments and helped him pay his debt off far sooner than expected.”

His new Connexus membership came at the perfect time because, according to Mickey, he couldn’t have even considered going to help with the COVID-19 relief efforts without first taking control of his debt.

“I was too strapped trying to figure out how to make my finances work,” he said. “I wouldn’t have put my hand up to help knowing that I had financial worries to come back to. You can’t provide care or love to someone if you don’t do that for yourself.”

As one of the heaviest hit states early in the pandemic, New York was a dangerous place, especially for healthcare workers on the front line. But this wasn’t Mickey’s first experience with danger. He had previously served in two wars as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne as part of Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait. And although Mickey felt well-equipped to combat the pandemic based on his military experience and medical background, nothing could have prepared him for what he faced when he arrived in New York.

“I have the education and the confidence to work in the face of this virus,” Mickey said. “What I wasn’t prepared for was the absolute devastation that this virus has brought to this community and its hospitals. It was worse than a war zone.”

Despite the grueling conditions of being a frontline worker, Mickey has continued to travel across the country to care for COVID-19 patients in communities that are particularly hard hit, most recently providing care in Texas. In addition to relentless, long hours filled with constant caregiving, Mickey has witnessed pain, fear, and loss on a daily basis for over a year. But none of that will undermine his commitment to serving others.

“We’re a professional unit that is doing its best to take care of people,” he said. “This is why we became nurses.”

With the integrity, passion, and courage he’s demonstrated throughout the pandemic, it goes without saying that Mickey is a true hero. But he also recognizes and appreciates that his ability to serve others wouldn’t have been possible without the support he received along the way. His dedicated teachers, supportive friends on the East Coast, and the Connexus employees who helped him pay off his debt all played a part in bringing Mickey to where he is today — working tirelessly to help others.

“Everybody has been instrumental,” he said. “It hasn’t been me at the forefront of anything. I just want everyone to know that if they are feeling insignificant, if they are feeling that they’re not part of this, it’s not true. I am here because they did their jobs. That’s why I had to reach out and say thank you.”

Due to the extraordinarily selfless efforts of medical professionals across the country, lives are being saved every day, and even in the face of devastating loss, we have hope. So on behalf of the entire Connexus team, we say: thank you, Mickey.