A Proud History
In 1938 teacher’s starting annual salaries were $1,100, the depression was ending and the war in Europe was beginning. On April 19, 1938 a group of determined Manchester area teachers organized the Manchester Teachers Federal Credit Union, known today as the Northeast Family Federal Credit Union.
With the memory of depression era bank closings fresh in their minds, people were not rushing to place their savings in an unproven and untested credit union. But, to the founders of this credit union the need outweighed the risk. Charles “Pete” Wigren, the first credit union treasurer, and Ernest Panciera had helped maintain a “kitty” for teachers. Teachers contributed to this pool intended to help those who ran short before payday. This spirit of helping one another naturally led this group to form a credit union, a financial cooperative whose philosophy is “not for profit, not for charity, but for service”.
For 23 years Pete Wigren’s home was the home of the credit union until, in 1961, it moved to 753 Main Street, where the State Theater was located. The rent was $25.00 per month for one room that was divided by a curtain to provide some privacy. To offer further confidentiality, Pete had to write out personal information and pass it to the member so that he wasn’t overheard. In the late 60’s the credit union moved to the Andrews Building and in 1979 the credit union built its current office at 233 Main St., Manchester.
Philip Emery and Raymond Woodbridge are also to be credited for their dedication to the early success of the credit union. Mr. Emery served as the credit union’s President from 1939 to 1949 while Mr. Woodbridge was Assistant Treasurer and served both in volunteer and staff position for many years.
Initially the credit union provided the financial staples of the day, shares and loans. The credit union loaned money at 1% per month interest for years, into the 70’s. Each year the credit union declared an interest refund; sometimes as much as 40% of the interest paid on a loan was refunded to the member. As late as 1975 the credit union paid a 22% interest refund which, on a 12% loan, brought the effective rate to only 9.36%.
In the 60’s the credit union had difficulty attracting deposits because federally chartered credit unions couldn’t offer federal deposit insurance. Understandably members were hesitant to deposit to credit union accounts and the credit union often resorted to borrowing from other credit unions to meet loan demand. The credit union considered changing to a state charter which offered more liberty, but before this became necessary a change in federal law brought credit union deposits under the umbrella of federal insurance. Since then growth in deposits has been dramatic.
In 1975 East Central Connecticut Teachers Credit Union, based in Willimantic, merged into Manchester Teachers Credit Union. This merger produced a three million dollar credit union with membership stretching to the Northeast borders of Connecticut. Aptly, the name was changed to Northeast School Employees Federal Credit Union.
Deregulation in the early 80’s opened new opportunities. Rising to the occasion, the Board of Directors implemented new policies and procedures to bring members share draft checking in 1980, student loans in 1981, individual retirement accounts in 1982, money market accounts in 1983, VISA cards in 1985 and ATM cards in 1987. Today the credit union is truly a full service financial institution.
Northeast School Employees Federal Credit Union became Northeast Family Federal Credit Union in early 2001, to better represent its growing, diverse membership.
In 2008, when the financial crisis occurred, Northeast Family FCU was able to ride out the storm, due to the cooperative structure of the credit union. In fact, Northeast Family FCU was able to implement new products and services during this time. Credit union members now enjoy access to over 66,000 surcharge free ATM’s, a fully functional online banking system, as well as bill pay and other features typically found in larger institutions. Remote deposit capture (depositing your check with just a photo) as well as a new website are just a few of our newest additions.
The internet has been the cause of change and Northeast Family has been right there, making the necessary changes. While we’ve made changes to products and services, we also keep the security of our members and cooperative values in the forefront of each new development.
Credit for all this growth and sustained service lies with all those volunteers who, during the last 79 years, have given their time unselfishly to the credit union. The credit union board and supervisory committee members receive no compensation. Credit also goes to the dedicated credit union staff; many have made a career serving credit union members.
A credit union is truly people helping people. It’s not the building or the equipment; it’s the people who make the credit union.
We wouldn’t be here if not for the members who have expressed their trust and confidence. Thanks to all of you!