Matt Cummings's Story
Matt Cummings is our Assistant Branch Manager in the Oakleaf branch. He started at Community First in 2015 as a Member Solutions Representative (MSR) at the Beach branch. He later received a promotion and became the Assistant Branch Manager at the Lakewood branch. When Community First prepared to open the Oakleaf branch in the summer of 2018, Our VP of Branches asked Matt to be a part of the team and Matt was eager to help Community First serve a new community.
Matt has received a lot of positive publicity lately, as he should! He recently lost almost 150 pounds in less than one year. As he says in his featured story in Runner’s World magazine, Matt and his wife took their son to a trampoline park on May 26, 2018. He was 336 pounds at the time. After only a few minutes of bouncing, Matt felt like he was going to pass out and had to stop. That was his “ah-ha” moment. “I was so embarrassed not being able to even play with my son, and if I kept this pace, I wouldn’t be there for much of his life, so I needed to change mine,” he said in the article. That’s when Matt turned to a friend for help.
More than a weight loss story
Several parallels exist between Matt’s weight loss journey and his ability to help members. In Matt’s situation, he knew he needed to lose weight, but felt lost. He needed encouragement from someone who could give him a plan and tell him how to follow it. “When I started the whole weight loss journey, I approached a friend and said, “I want to, I just don’t know how” and he gave me a specific diet and exercises to work on.” Regarding members who come into the branch and may feel lost about their financial situation, he said, “They know where they want to be, they just don’t know how to get there.” In those situations, Matt is able to be step in and be the advocate for our members, just like his friend was for him. In addition, Matt is also a Community First member, so he is able to help others from a fellow member's perspective.
“I love being able to help members,” Matt said. “You have people coming in every day who are trying to achieve financial goals. Just being an advocate for them and walking them through the process… it’s cool to be able to participate in people’s lives like that. I’m very much driven by helping people and that’s what I love so much about Community First. We’re focused on helping people. It wasn’t like my goal was to be 336 pounds. Life just happens, and once the ball starts rolling downhill sometimes, it’s hard to stop it. And I think we find members in that scenario.”
Just like weight, money is deeply personal, especially when either one is out of control. “Money is a hole, when you get in that hole, it’s hard to get out, especially when you start accumulating debt, it’s scary,” Matt said. It can also be uncomfortable and embarrassing to talk about your current situation. “I was most embarrassed that I let myself get to 336 pounds and didn’t know how I got there. And I think people have that too when they come in and say, ‘I’ve got $12,000 in credit card debt and I don’t know what happened.’ That parallel is very real.”
Matt admitted, “Even though you know there’s a problem, it takes you a long time before you realize that you have to do something. With money that can be anything, whether it’s a car wreck or you lose your job, or something else that causes that crisis.” That’s when it’s important to have someone you can trust. “We’re creating an environment that is safe and inviting,” Matt said. “It’s okay to come in and say, 'I don’t know what I’m doing.’ It’s okay, we’re not going to judge you, we’re going to make you feel comfortable, we’re going to show you what you need to know to get you where you need to go.”
Humble then, humble now
Prior to joining Community First, Matt worked for Chick-Fil-A. He liked how that company focused on helping people and serving them correctly and enjoyed that culture. When he heard about Community First, he noticed similarities. “The core values really intrigued me. They are core values that I live by in my family life, too," he said. “I’ve always wanted to work for a company that has a good culture. I don’t want to be a guy who just comes in and punches a clock and goes home. I want to be part of a culture that does good. I truly believe that Jacksonville is better because Community First is in it. It’s nice to be part of a company that supports the journey I’ve been on, too.”
Matt has been married to his wife for eight years and has a five-year-old son. “The whole weight loss journey was for them,” he said. When he’s not working, playing with this son, or exercising, Matt enjoys being very active in his church and has a very close-knit family in the area. He was born and raised in Jacksonville, and loves taking his wife and son to Icemen hockey games and Shrimp baseball games.
He loves working in the Oakleaf branch and loved being part of its grand opening last year. When asked about the future, Matt said, “I want to put my time and effort every day to make Oakleaf better, Community First better, and partner with everything we have going on to make the city better.”
The journey continues
Matt’s initial goal was to lose 100 pounds in one year. He officially started on May 29, 2018, and has far surpassed his goal. “The cool thing is that I’ve learned a lot along the way. My mind is stronger, I’m a better husband, I’m better at work, better all around. So it’s learning to apply that same tenacity that you must have to lose this much weight to other areas of your life.”
Matt recently completed his first ever Gate River Run, and reflected on how it felt like he "hit a wall" around mile six or seven. That’s when he said he remembered reading about a Navy Seal who said that most people only operate at about 40 percent of their capacity. “I just got to a point in my life where I got comfortable with 20 or 30 percent, so learning how to apply that whole 100 percent to everything I do has been a lot of fun.” He kept this in mind while running and ultimately finished the race.
Matt admittedly does not enjoy the spotlight and some of the attention he has received lately, but had this to say to anyone who is reading, “I’m not a drum-beater. The way I view it is that if my story can help anybody, then I need to do it.”