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Jersey Shore FCU: A Tale of Two Credit Unions and One Dedicated Founder  

November 10, 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 Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union, which was founded by John DiNofrio, who now serves as the credit union’s chairman.

The tale of how Jersey Shore FCU was founded has nothing to do with the famous (or infamous) TV series, and certainly involved far less drama. It actually begins with the founding of another credit union: the FAA Pomona Federal Credit Union. In 1963, James John Benson, an assistant chief air traffic controller at the Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center at the Atlantic City Airport, saw a need amongst the workers for financial assistance that was not being met by any other local financial institution. Focused on the Technical Center’s federal employees, Benson started the financial cooperative with just $25 for the charter and $40 for supplies.

Around that same time, John DiNofrio, a young employee of the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center and a board member of FAA Pomona FCU, fell in love with the “people helping people” philosophy of the credit union. He wanted to bring the cooperative benefits of credit union membership more broadly to the public, to help more than just federal employees meet their financial goals.

So in 1979 John, his wife Marianne, and six of their closest friends joined together to found Linwood Community Federal Credit Union to serve their hometown of Linwood, N.J. DiNofrio had members contribute just $2 to join, and set the minimum deposit amount at $50. The first loan the credit union gave out was just $300 to a Linwood City employee.

The credit union began operations in the Mayor’s office in City Hall —he was a friend of the DiNofrio’s—just one night a week. As the credit union grew, and began to operate a few more nights a week, the Mayor moved the credit union to the office of taxation to give them more room. All the while John and Marianne volunteered their time to the credit union, never getting paid for their service, until they hired an assistant. They began paying the assistant and Marianne a modest stipend of $1.50 an hour, preferring to provide maximum benefits to their members.

The fate of the FAA Pomona Federal Credit Union and Linwood Community FCU converged when the two merged in 1994 and the organization continued to grow to serve more and more members in its local community. In 2005, it was officially named Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union to better reflect the more than 200 area businesses and organizations it had grown to serve in the Jersey Shore area. It also modified its charter, allowing the credit union to provide complete financial services to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Atlantic and Cape May counties. The credit union now touches the lives of 12,000 members with its “people helping people” philosophy.

“John has successfully piloted the credit union in his role as Chairman,” said Jersey Shore FCU President/CEO Jim Burns. “He helped foster membership growth, expand its branch footprint and provided valuable guidance to both the Board and the executive management team. John promotes the people helping people philosophy in not only his dealings with the credit union but the way he carries himself in everyday life.”This October, the man that had a hand in leading both credit unions that became Jersey Shore FCU, John DiNofrio, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey Credit Union League at its Annual Meeting and Convention for his life-long dedication to the credit union movement here in New Jersey.

DiNofrio is a true example of how the cooperative spirit is ingrained in credit union leaders from the very beginning. When asked about his continued commitment to the cooperative credit union movement, DiNofrio says it’s not just a philosophy. He says, “People helping people is a way of life for me.”

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

Credit Unions Around the World Celebrate ‘The Authentic Difference’ on International Credit Union Day 

By Daniel Jacinto

Celebrated every third Thursday of October since 1948, International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) is a day dedicated to recognizing the credit union movement throughout history, honor those who dedicate their lives to the movement, recognize the hard work of industry employees, and to show CU members appreciation.

This year, ICU Day was celebrated on October 20th with the theme of ‘The Authentic Difference.” It was dedicated to communicating the unique qualities that make credit unions special. Credit unions celebrate this day by spreading credit union awareness in the form of sharing goodies, giveaways, and specials with their membership. Read on to see how credit unions around the world celebrated International Credit Union Day.

British Colombia, Canada

Canada’s largest credit union by membership, Coast Capital Savings, celebrated International Credit Union Day by reflecting on its commitment to the principles and values that continue to drive its success. "All that we are today and all that we will become in the future is inspired by our roots and our continued commitment to helping our members achieve financial well-being and supporting the enrichment of our local communities," said Coast Capital Savings President and CEO Don Coulter.

New Jersey, United States

Bay Atlantic FCU had free giveaways at their branches that were given to members that stopped by in celebration of “The Authentic Difference”.

Credit Union of New Jersey (CUNJ) celebrated ICU Day with goodies for both their staff and their members. Staff members were provided with international snacks and were able to wear jeans. CUNJ members had several goodies, such as snacks and giveaways, at all branches. At the Ewing branch, an NJ 101.5 radio station van was on-site playing music and giving away prizes from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Deepwater Industries FCU served delicious snacks to their members that included coffee, doughnuts, and cookies in the morning and hot dogs, chips, and drinks in the afternoon.

First Financial FCU (FFFCU) held a social media contest on their Facebook and Instagram pages asking members to comment with why they love being an FFFCU member. A winner was pulled out of a drawing for a $20 Visa gift card for that lucky member.

Garden Savings FCU set up tables at all four of its branches to celebrate ICU Day and handed out pens, key chains, and snacks. Each branch offered members the opportunity to win a $50 Visa gift card by verifying or updating their email address.

Jersey Shore FCU held an open house from October 17th to October 22nd in celebration of ICU Week. Refreshments, giveaways, and loan and credit card specials were offered to members. Members were also given a chance to win $2,500 with a Refer-A-Member promotion.

Members 1st of NJ FCU hosted an open house throughout October in celebration of International Credit Union Day encouraging anyone in the community to visit the credit union and receive a gift. On ICU Day, Members 1st of NJ FCU provided refreshments, handed out giveaways, and held a drawing for a chance to win an Amazon Echo. For children under 10 years old, a coloring contest was held.

Newark Board of Education Employees FCU set up tables in their branch’s lobby with materials to hand out, along with candies and other goodies.

Rutgers FCU shared refreshments at their Busch, Camden, College Avenue, and Newark branches in celebration of International Credit Union Day.

New Zealand

Co-op Money NZ, the trading name for the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions, celebrated ICU Day this year by working with Pacific Island banks to strengthen their identity theft protection for members banking with them through Co-op Money NZ’s AccessDebit Scheme. Co-op Money NZ is a co-operative representing member credit unions and building societies in New Zealand.

For pictures of New Jersey credit union celebrations please click here.

How to Create a Holiday Budget and Avoid Post-Holiday Stress 

By Daniel Jacinto

The kids are back to school, temperatures are getting chilly, and store shelves are filled with pumpkin-spiced everything marked down on clearance…these are all symptoms of Autumn falling upon us. Before you know it, the holiday shopping season will be here—and immediately after—the post-holiday season that’ll leave you feeling broke.

Fear not holiday shoppers, you can remedy that holiday hangover and keep from feeling like you only have lumps of coal. Follow these steps to keep your wallet in check after the holiday shopping season.

Create a Gift List

Decide whom you’ll be buying gifts for this season, ask them for gift ideas, and come up with a number of how much you can spend. Create a list and stick to it.

Start Saving ASAP

Once you’ve created a gift list and a budget, open a savings account at a credit union and start depositing small amounts of money. This will keep your spending on track.

Many credit unions require a minimum balance on a savings account of at least $5, which is doable to keep the account active for next year’s holiday shopping. To find a credit union near you to open up your holiday savings account check out our credit union search engine here.

If you need to save more try selling unwanted items online on sites like eBay or on your mobile device on the Let Go app.

Shop Early and Before Black Friday

The best time to shop is right now before the Black Friday mess. The deals offered may run a week prior to Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. Having worked at a retailer before, I’ve seen pre-Black Friday sales that were the same as the Black Friday sales.

The deals you typically find may not actually even be the best ones, at least compared to sales offered throughout the year.  They may even be the same ones from recent years. A Nerdwallet.com study surveying Black Friday deals in 2013 comparison to 2014 at 27 stores found that 93% of the ads contained at least one repeated deal.

O.K., smart holiday shopper. Now that you’ve got the remedy to your post-holiday stress you can start planning that tropical vacation you’ve been dreaming about…or building up your savings for a rainy (or snowy) day.

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

10 Back-to-School Money Saving Tips 

By: Daniel Jacinto
August 29, 2016 Categories: saving tips

Crowded stores, long lines, empty shelves…this all sounds kind of like the holiday shopping season when it isn’t! It’s the second largest consumer-spending season according to the National Retail Federation: back-to-school shopping. And it has gotten expensive!

The National Retail Federation foresees households of K-12 graders will spend an average of nearly $700 on clothes and accessories, electronics, shoes, and school supplies. For college students it’s closer to $900 when factoring in electronics.

This all sounds like a lot doesn’t it? That $700-$900 may not always be at your disposal and charging the credit card or taking out a small loan wouldn’t be the wisest idea either.

Below are 10 back-to-school money saving tips mentioned on MoneyTalksNews.com that may help you and your family save some cash in the coming month:

1. Make a List
Some schools and colleges are good at giving students a list of necessary school supplies. Use those lists to stay on-track when shopping and avoid unnecessary purchases.

2. Check Closets and Drawers
Before you go shopping, take stock of what you already have! Look in your kids’ closets for wardrobes that still fit and sell any that don’t to make a quick buck. It’s also a good way to remove clutter from your home!

Don’t forget to check desk drawers. You may find pens, pencils, notebooks, erasers, and more lurking around in your home.

3. Look for ‘Like New’ Supplies
With all the garage sales going on in the summer, you’re bound to find supplies at even cheaper prices. One student’s trash is another student’s treasure!

4. Clip Coupons
Check out coupons from retailers. Target is one retailer that offers their own store coupons and promotions for school supplies.

5. For College Students: Cheaper Textbooks
Don’t wait on that bookstore line to purchase overpriced books with little re-sell value. Rent books online on sites like www.chegg.com or www.skyo.com for over half the price of buying.

6. Bulk Up!
Got a big family or friends to share a jumbo size purchase with? Find great value at a warehouse club on school supplies.

7. Shop at Discount Stores
Have you shopped at discount stores like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx? Find good quality clothing and book bags for your child at great prices. College students can find discounted bedding and kitchen supplies.

8. Search for the Best Deal on Big-Ticket Items
Need to buy a big-ticket item like a computer? Check out sites like PriceGrabber and Nextag to find the best price. If you’re going to buy online check out RetailMeNot for coupon codes before checkout.

9. Wait Until September Clearance Sales
If you have enough to hold you over until the fall, do so. You’ll find amazing deals on clothing, book bags, and lunch bags after the first few weeks of the school year.

10. Just Say “No” to the Unnecessary
We’re all guilty of being caught by good in-store marketing that’ll get us to buy something we don’t need. This is why you should create a list to begin with to keep you on task! Don’t buy the fancy overpriced pencils, pens, folders, etc.

Also, don’t be influenced by your kids to get something that is also unnecessary. Stay on task!

Founded by School Teachers; First Financial FCU Stays True to its Roots and its Community 

August 24, 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 third installment of the Legacy Series, we’re featuring a credit union founded during the Depression by a group of teachers in Asbury Park, N.J.

The Great Depression started in 1929, and continued for more than a decade. During that time, the economy came to a standstill, banks were failing left and right, and many people were resorting to the only safe haven they knew for their money – under the mattress. In 1936, a group of Asbury Park, N.J. schoolteachers decided there was another way to provide essential banking services to themselves and others, all while protecting their savings. 

In true cooperative spirit, this group came together to help each other in a time of need and organized themselves into one of the earliest credit unions in America: Monmouth County, NJ Teachers Federal Credit Union. Today, 80 years later, that credit union still exists, much larger and now known as First Financial Federal Credit Union. 

Getting from Monmouth County Teachers FCU to First Financial FCU took more than a few years of growth and expansion, cooperative efforts, and dedication to specific communities. Under the leadership of Harold “Pop” Shannon, the credit union grew to serve other teacher-related populations: employees of both the Monmouth and Ocean County Boards of Education. The small shop went through a name change to reflect the groups it served: Mon-Oc Teachers Federal Credit Union.

From that small office in Asbury Park (pictured), over the years the credit union expanded again to serve municipal employees (followed by another name change, to Mon-Oc Public Employees Federal Credit Union), employees of some local hospitals and nursing facilities, and several small businesses (when the name then became simply Mon-Oc Federal Credit Union).

In April 2003, Mon-Oc FCU became a community credit union, serving anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. With this expansion, the credit union became First Financial Federal Credit Union in July 2006.

Celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, the credit union stays true to its roots as an organization founded by teachers. “Education has and always will be a pivotal piece of our organization, and we have stayed true to our educational roots by continuing to support our members and the local community through financial education,” says First Financial FCU President/CEO, Issa Stephan. “We hold free monthly seminars on various important topics such as budgeting, credit management, debt reduction, how to buy a home or car, and more. Our Foundation provides annual college scholarships to Monmouth and Ocean County students, as well as classroom grants to teachers within our community. We are proud to support our local teachers, students, and educate as many members of our community as we can.”

First Financial FCU may have grown and seen some changes in its 80 years, but it has stayed true to its early years as a dedicated source for financial education and services for its community.

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

 

New Jersey CUs Display Credit Union Difference During National Night Out 

By: Daniel Jacinto
August 17, 2016 Categories: National Night Out

Credit unions live by the philosophy of “people helping people”. To do their part, credit unions around the world contribute to local communities and demonstrate the “credit union difference”, meaning what sets them apart from other traditional financial institutions. Several credit unions across the country went to the next level by partaking in National Night Out this August 2nd.

What is National Night Out?
National Night Out (NNO) serves as a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, making our neighborhoods a safer and better place to live. National Night Out unites law enforcement and neighbors to create a true sense of community. Neighborhoods across the nation host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, and exhibits.

The National Association of Town Watch (NATW) is the nation’s premiere non-profit crime prevention organization dedicated to the development and promotion of crime prevention in communities across the country. NATW is a network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and concerned citizens. Through this network the NNO campaign was launched.

New Jersey Credit Unions/CU Leagues at NNO

Andrews Federal Credit Union – Washington D.C. & New Jersey
Andrews FCU participated in the festivities in eight of the communities it serves in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan and New Jersey regions respectively. Staff members shared the benefits of credit union membership to all in attendance.

Find Andrews Federal on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.

Bay Atlantic Federal Credit Union – Vineland, N.J.
Vineland Police hosted the eighth annual National Night Out in Vineland, N.J. where Bay Atlantic FCU participated in the festivities with the community for the second year in a row. Volunteers from the credit union handed out goodies, valuable identity theft information, and shared the credit union difference. NNO goers of all ages got a chance to spin the Bay Atlantic FCU wheel to win fun prizes.

Find Bay Atlantic FCU on Facebook and view their NNO photos.

Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union – Southern New Jersey
Jersey Shore FCU participated in National Night Out in a total of five communities in southern New Jersey. Brigantine, Galloway, Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing, Hammonton, and Middle Township National Night Outs all welcomed Jersey Shore FCU representatives to distribute giveaways and play games. Click on the above communities to see pictures and festivities.

Find Jersey Shore FCU on Facebook and Twitter to see more photos of NNO festivities.

Members 1st of New Jersey Federal Credit Union – Vineland, N.J.
Members 1st of New Jersey FCU participated in their first National Night Out festivities in Vineland, N.J. Volunteers from the credit union handed out giveaways to the National Night Out goers.

View more pictures of their festivities on their Twitter page.

MidState Federal Credit Union – Carteret, N.J.
MidState FCU held its own National Night Out celebration at its branch location August 2nd as part of the community of Carteret’s participation. The credit union had visits from the police department (the chief included), the fire department, and a councilwoman. The credit union manned a table from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. giving out brochures and fun giveaways.

Check out MidState FCU on Facebook for pictures.

New Jersey Credit Union League – Hightstown, N.J.
The New Jersey Credit Union League represented New Jersey credit unions and interacted with its local community of East Windsor, N.J. for the second consecutive year during NNO. League staff members shared the benefits of credit union membership as well as identity theft prevention tips with National Night Out goers.

National Night Out attendees were encouraged to take a spin on the ID theft trivia wheel to test their knowledge and win several prizes. Adults and children, some even toddlers, took a shot at ID theft questions, though everyone was a winner. Attendees won beach balls, glow sticks, and temporary tattoos as well as brochures on the credit union difference and tips for preventing identity theft.

More photos are available on the New Jersey Credit Union League Facebook page. Also, check out the Banking You Can Trust campaign on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Founded by Dedicated Educators, Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union Invites You to Join its Extended Family 

August 03, 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. Today, we’re featuring a credit union that got its start in Hackensack High School, which has now grown into a 19,000-member family that serves the entire surrounding area.

In 1937 five dedicated educators founded a credit union in Hackensack High School, established primarily for the purpose of serving teachers and their immediate families. One can only presume that at least one of the founders was a math or home economics teacher. From those humble beginnings sprang a tradition of more than 75 years of commitment to members, community, and service.

As it grew, membership was expanded to include a diverse mix of communities, employee groups, and associations in Bergen and Passaic Counties. Eventually the name was changed to reflect the broader membership, becoming Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union (GAFCU).

But despite its growth and expansion, one thing never changed – GAFCU has stayed true to its family-focused roots. The credit union itself is a family, and this may be one of the reasons for their enviable record of employee retention. Almost half (around 43%) of their employees have been with the credit union for 10 years or more, and more than two-thirds have been there for at least five years or more. The credit union has had only three CEOs since the 30’s—an unbelievable rarity in the financial services industry.

Its current CEO, Glenn Guinto, also has deep roots in the Greater Alliance family, having begun his career there as a part-time teller. His assistant, Antonietta “Tony” Tartaglione, has worked at the credit union for over 30 years, starting when she was in high school in 1978, when there were only two other employees other than herself.

“Our employee tenure is what makes us an institution in the truest sense of the word,” says Guinto. “Our members have been with us for many generations and we can attribute our tenure as one of the main reasons that we’ve developed their trust in us.”

In his free time, Guinto still enjoys visiting the credit union’s branch lobbies and saying hello to members that he used to wait on as a teller. “I enjoy talking to our members—and sometimes their children. Most of them still remember when I was waiting on them from over the counter,” adds Guinto.

From those five educators in 1937,  Greater Alliance has grown into a community credit union, owned by its over 19,000 members. If you live, work, worship,  go to school in, or if you belong to a business or any legal entity within Bergen or Passaic County, you are invited to join the rest of the family at Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union.

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on Greater Alliance FCU, including how to join, visit www.greateralliance.org or find a credit union near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com.

Thunderbolt Area FCU’s Rich History: Keeping it in the Family  

July 20, 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. Today we’re featuring a credit union founded by eight toolmakers who worked in America’s first Defense Airport.

The South Jersey town of Millville is rich in history, most famously known as the home of the Millville Municipal Airport, the first training ground in the country for pilots during World War II. Thunderbolt Area Federal Credit Union, located at the airport entrance, is a part of that history and holds quite a story of its own.

Its president, Bob Millard, is the son of the credit union’s founder, Asher K. Millard. Asher worked for Airwork Corporation, the engine overhaul shop located in Millville, as a toolmaker. He and seven other Airwork employees began Airwork Employees Federal Credit Union – later to become Thunderbolt Area Federal Credit Union – by pooling together their money, $5 each at the time. Until then, Asher had kept his money in a safe at home, lending to friends in need when he could. Laying the foundation for the credit union came as a natural next step for him.

The credit union gained its federal charter on May 1, 1951 and was located on the premises of its original sponsor company, Airwork Corp. Asher, however, couldn’t take off work from his position as a toolmaker to operate the credit union. So, his wife, Helen K. Millard, worked there part-time, for no pay, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Their son, current Thunderbolt Area Federal Credit Union president Bob Millard, at the ripe age of 8, began helping his parents with calculations. “Effectively I have been involved in some way for nearly 65 years,” says Millard. He was then elected to the board of directors in 1968 and eventually took over as president when his father retired in 1985.

When asked why he began working at the credit union, and continued for as long as he has, Millard says it’s the philosophy of “people helping people” that brought him there and kept him there. “I liked the concept,” he explains, “To help an individual, someone who just walks in, needs help, that’s where it counts.”

Where does the name Thunderbolt Area come from? It was also taken from the pages of the history of Millville. The Thunderbolt P-47 was a plane flown in World War II, and pilots of these planes were trained at the nation’s first Army airfield: Millville Municipal Airport. “Area” comes from the credit union’s change in charter to serve the surrounding area.

Through the years, Thunderbolt Area FCU has stayed true to its roots—its community and its humble beginnings—due to its founding family.

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on Thunderbolt Area FCU, including how to join, visit www.tbafcu.com or find a credit union near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com

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