Posts From September, 2016

Carrying on its Heritage and Tradition: United Poles FCU is Still Going Strong 

September 29, 2016 Categories: legacy series

Although they offer many of the same services, credit unions operate in a fundamentally different way than banks, one founded on the philosophy of “people helping people”. Credit unions were typically founded by friends, like neighbors, workers, and people who worship together. Such is the case for United Poles Federal Credit Union. Thirteen Polish community members in Perth Amboy, N.J., founded the credit union, which to this day, is an integral part of that community’s identity.

In the 1950s, the Polish community in Perth Amboy was a tight-knit one, gathering at one local banquet hall for all of their celebrations, from weddings to christenings to graduations.

When Polish immigrants were having trouble getting loans and other banking services due to the language barrier and other challenges, the community came together once again for a very different purpose than celebrations. Hearing about the cooperative concept of credit unions, 13 members of that community saw a solution, and formed their own credit union in 1965—United Poles Federal Credit Union. Their start was modest, with an initial deposit of just $3,200 contributed by its members. United Poles FCU wasn’t anything like a typical bank start-up in other ways too, lacking plush offices and expensive furniture—the credit union’s official headquarters was a room it rented above a local bar.

United Poles FCU grew to include 400 members of the community within ten years, and it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the credit union hired a full-time manager. By the 1980s they had grown enough to open their first brick and mortar branch, the same building that is its headquarters today in Perth Amboy. Over the past few decades, the credit union has grown to include another branch location in Linden, with a total of 2,200 community members, and $38 million in assets.

The credit union’s current CEO, Iwona Karpeta, came to work at the credit union in 1996 as a college student. She traveled to the U.S. from Poland for an internship, working on a thesis on the credit union movement. She stayed, moving up the ladder to a teller, loan officer, loan supervisor, and so on, eventually becoming CEO in 2005. She is only the fourth leader of the credit union in it’s over 50 years of service.

“I’ve worked here for 20 years and it’s more than just a job,” says Karpeta. “At the end of the day, it’s about helping people. And that’s exactly how the credit union started over 50 years ago. People saw a need to help each other, and today we’re trying to do the same.”

You can feel the sense of community at the credit union. All five staff members, including Karpeta, speak the language. Each of them has been with the credit union for at least 10 years or more. They know most of their members by their first names and even know their voices when they call. They now serve the great grandchildren of some of the credit union’s original members and have watched them grow over the years.

“We know our members,” says Karpeta. “We know every wedding, funeral, birth…you name it. It’s a small community, and even though it has spread out across the state, it is still very tight.”

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on United Poles Federal Credit Union, including how to join, visit www.unitedpolesfcu.com or find another credit union near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com.

Founded by Kimble Glass Factory Workers Over 75 Years Ago, Bay Atlantic FCU has Provided Generations of Family Friendly Service to its Community 

September 13, 2016 Categories: credit union difference legacy series

Although they offer many of the same services, credit unions operate in a fundamentally different way than banks, one based on the philosophy of “people helping people”. Credit unions were typically founded by friends, like neighbors, workers and people who worship together. In our latest installment of the Legacy Series, we’re featuring a credit union founded by nine factory workers, one of which is a relative of the credit union’s current CEO.

“Generations of Family Friendly Service.” That’s Bay Atlantic FCU’s tagline, which was inspired and voted on by its members. The credit union’s legacy drives this motto; the not-for-profit was founded over 75 years ago in 1939 by nine Kimble Glass factory workers who decided to join together for the mutual benefit of the group.

We often see credit unions with deep roots in a community – Bay Atlantic takes that concept to a whole new level. One of those nine founding workers, Lillian Steelman, is the great aunt of Gail Marino, Bay Atlantic’s current President & CEO. “You can say that the credit union is my blood,” Marino said. Marino has carried on that tradition of long-standing ties to the credit union, having begun working at the credit union (named Kimble Federal Credit Union at the time) in 1977 as a teller.

Over the years, Bay Atlantic FCU has grown to serve many other organizations, including Progresso and General Mills. But the credit union always stayed true to its primarily blue color legacy of meeting the needs of workers and their families. With expansion, the credit union changed its name in 2002 to Bay Atlantic Federal Credit Union to better represent the area it serves: the section of southern New Jersey between the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Bay Atlantic FCU now has two branches in that area: its main office on Elmer Road in Vineland and a branch in Millville. When the credit union decided to close a third branch on Crystal Avenue in Vineland, it chose to give back to the community by donating the building and land to the Boys and Girls Club of Vineland for their new Teen Center.

When she handed over the keys to the local nonprofit, Marino noted, "It is our intention to restore the chance for this facility to once again be an active location and, if possible, benefit the entire area."

Actions speak louder than words, and for Bay Atlantic, “Our history proves that our institution is based on the principle of ‘people helping people’,” said Marino.

Bay Atlantic FCU also continues to honor its past, recognizing the generations of members who have built the credit union into what it is today. For example, the credit union sends birthday cards to the senior citizens that have continued their membership into their golden years. “Sometimes it’s the only card they get,” Marino noted. “It’s the little things. It’s all about relationships.”

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on Bay Atlantic Federal Credit Union, including how to join, visit www.bayatlanticfcu.org or find one near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com

 
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