October 12, 2015
This column was published in the Sunday, Oct. 11, edition of the Appleton Post-Crescent.
By Michael King
For Post-Crescent Media
This week, credit unions across the globe will celebrate the uniqueness of their member-owned financial institutions as Thursday is International Credit Union Day.
A couple years ago, during one of the worst days of a cold, snowy winter, Gene’s home furnace went out. “Our furnace actually died and it was 10 below zero out,” he said. “I didn’t have cash or anything really to put toward it.”
With two young children at home, he needed to move quickly. First thing the next morning he came to Community First Credit Union to see if he had any financing options. We provided a loan for a new furnace that was installed the next day.
“Community First was fantastic and we were able to get a loan for the furnace and the next day it was put in,” Gene said. Within a few weeks he received his tax refund and was able to repay the loan in full.
Since then, Community First helped him refinance his dealer-financed truck loan over 6% and two credit card balances (with interest rates of 19% and 23%) into a CFCU loan at 3.9%. That lowered his monthly payment $130 and saved him $6,100 in loan interest.
Gene knows life can be challenging but is glad Community First is in his corner to assist his financial wellness. “I love Community First,” he said.
Jim Richter heard about the benefits of credit unions from relatives as he grew up. So, in 1974, when he was hired by the City of Appleton, he was happy to learn that one benefit was membership in the Appleton Municipal Employees Credit Union (which subsequently merged into Community First).
Jim loves the credit union philosophy where profits come back to member/owners through favorable borrowing rates, a multitude of free services, few fees and market leading deposit rates.
“Over the years, Community First has helped us with crises that all families are confronted with and they’ve saved us thousands of dollars,” Jim said. “Just last year we had a basement wall caving in due to tree root damage. We were unexpectedly forced to spend $20,000 that we just frankly didn’t have. But Community First Credit Union found a way.”
For 2015, Community First is on a mission to save members $40 million in loan interest in honor of our 40th year since being founded in 1975.
“From time to time I check other financial institutions but Community First always has the best rates,” Jim said. “I’ve seen, over the 40 years that I’ve been with Community First, banks and institutions in the area change their name countless times. But, Community First is still Community First, and I still own it.”
Member Pam Hagen, who joined Community First in 1979, no longer needs loans but is glad her deposits are put to good use by her financial cooperative to assist others – maybe even her neighbor – in local communities when they need to borrow. “It makes me feel proud to know that Community First is helping so many people,” she said.
Over 217 million people worldwide know that credit union membership is a people-helping-people movement that assists families, neighbors and communities to thrive and follow their dreams! Join us Thursday as we celebrate International Credit Union Day and all that credit unions do for our local communities – and for communities around the world.
Michael King is the communications manager at Community First Credit Union. He can be reached at Mike.King@communityfirstcu.org.