Between rescuing unwanted farm animals, volunteering in the community, and helping her mortgage customers land their dream homes in a tough market, Rachel Barnhart is always busy—and fully committed to making the world a better place.
You've been with Citizens Bank for some time. What has your career here been like?
I've worked for Citizens Bank since 2009, serving in many different roles. I’ve done a little bit of everything -- from being a teller to my new position as the mortgage sales manager. When I began as a teller, I was fortunate to have Citizens Bank invest in my education by helping me through school. At the same time, I gradually rose through the ranks at the bank. First, as a manager in training, and then as an executive assistant to our president, and then to a documentation specialist in the commercial loan department. After that, I became the branch manager of our Avon office, and now, I have transitioned to the mortgage department full time.
What do you love about your new position?
Our mortgage department is growing, and since accepting the position in the last year, we now have four mortgage lenders including myself. Citizens Bank is looking to be more proactive in the mortgage world, with a goal of having one MLO for each one of our branch locations, allowing our people to be available for customer convenience and giving them the chance to seek out new opportunities, such as enhancing our relationships with Realtors and new home contractors.
To what do you attribute the sudden growth?
Over the last 12 months, we've seen a huge spike in refinancing—that's happening everywhere with the situation in the economy and the current housing market, creating a great deal of volume growth. As far as the actual housing market, the counties we serve are all different, but all are experiencing a housing crunch; we don't have enough houses for those who want to be homeowners. This creates a competitive market, which is where we come in. We help our customers position themselves as attractive buyers.
Do you have a motto?
Yes! This is a favorite that I learned from a banking colleague: "It's never no, it just might be not right now."
What lights you up each day?
The most wonderful part of my job is that I'm helping people achieve their financial goals. Recently I had a customer, a woman in her 60s on a fixed income, whom I was able to assist with buying her first home. She had happy tears in her eyes going into the closing meeting and that was so special. When she walked into my office a few months ago she had only dreamed about owning a home and didn't think it would be possible—and within a few months, she became a homeowner. This philosophy translates into my personal life as well. I love helping others.
How do you enjoy helping your community?
I volunteer a great deal. I don't really wear one hat, as I have a lot of causes that mean something to me, so I spread my time between them. One role I enjoy is being an animal transporter for Oinking Acres, a nonprofit whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, re-home, and advocate for abused, neglected, and unwanted pot-bellied pigs and other farm animals. You'd be surprised how many of these animals are abandoned when people can't care for them anymore.
I also sort food for our senior citizen food pantry at the senior center twice a month, and I also spend time volunteering for Project Angel, a Christmas program for underserved youth. I am all over the place!
So what is your happy place?
I am always spending time at the barn—I'm a full-time mom to a very busy 12-year-old girl who loves showing Arabian horses.