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Jun242014

Credit Union Foundation -- 80 Years

Have you ever walked into a business where everyone knows your name? If you’re a credit union member, the answer is probably yes.

For 83 years, we’ve been proud of the service we’ve been able to provide at Star Choice Credit Union. Over the years, as big Wall Street banks have grown more distant from their customers, hardworking folks have been looking for an alternative. Whether they’ve been a member since we opened our doors or just joined yesterday, our 5,825 members choose a credit union because we’ve made collaborative banking a success while offering first-rate member service and savings. None of that would be possible today if it wasn’t for the work done in 1934.

The foundation for a strong credit union movement was set 80 years ago, on June 26, 1934, when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law, permitting credit unions to be formed across the country. Since that day, credit unions have developed considerably. Through the years, we’ve grown in membership as we’ve broadened our services to meet the needs of our members, from mortgage lending to student loans and even a mobile app that allows you to deposit your checks simply by snapping a photo of them. Like other credit unions around the country, we practice values-based decision-making; a clear departure from the big banks.

Today, nearly 100 million people choose to be members of credit unions, and more than 6,700 independent, consumer-owned, volunteer-led, democratically controlled credit unions have the well-being of their members in mind every day.

We strive to be a not-for-profit institution that you can choose to be your best financial partner, but our impact goes far beyond our community. Credit unions return financial benefits directly to their members with higher returns on savings, lower rates on loans, and fewer, lower fees. Bank customers benefit too, as the presence of credit unions drives down loan rates, pushes up savings rates and influences fees. In fact, credit union members and non-member bank customers realized financial benefits of more than $8 billion dollars in 2013.

We believe a key reason we’re your best financial partner is because we listen to the needs and interests of our growing membership by fostering service excellence. Every day, we work to make sure our members receive helpful, personalized service when they come in, call us on the phone or reach us over the Internet. With services such as online banking, shared ATM access (the largest single ATM network in the country), and “shared branches” among credit unions -- our great rates, and our dedication to competitive loan and savings rates are our top priorities, day in and day out.

We also believe it’s important to remove the barriers that exist to service, and we encourage our members who are interested to become engaged on issues that are important to them. We’re active in legislative advocacy through our grassroots efforts. We believe it’s important that our elected officials hear from us and we help foster open-door policies at the congressional level as well as with federal and state regulators.

Most of all, we believe that a good credit union is one that gives back and creates awareness in the community. Star Choice once again partnered with Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP) this year. VEAP serves the local communities of Bloomington, Richfield, Edina and part of Minneapolis. Nearly 8,000 individuals, half of whom are children, are served each month, making it the largest food distribution center in Minnesota. They offer four service programs which work together to help alleviate the financial stress low-income individuals and families face as the result of unexpected expenses or lapses in income. The four service programs they offer are: Food Program, Children and Youth Services, Transportation, and Social Services.

Over the past year, Star Choice has assisted VEAP by both volunteering time and making contributions to their Food Program by collecting non-perishable food items as well as monetary donations from our employees as well as our membership. This year we managed to collect 480 pounds of food to donate to VEAP on behalf of the members and employees at Star Choice.

As we continue to move forward, it’s essential to look back and remember why credit unions were created. Credit unions are cooperatives that were developed to promote thrift among the American people – bound together by a common set of business principles and values. Volunteer leadership. Democratic control. Economic participation. Autonomy and independence. Member education. Cooperation among cooperatives. Concern for community.

Today, credit unions are living up to those business principles and values, and Star Choice Credit Union will continue to work to put our members and our community first.

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