Self-Help Shares

Continuing the Mission, Preserving the Legacies

By Lauren Marlot
  | Apr 20, 2017

Second Federal Savings & Loan Association of Chicago

Archival picture of the lobby of our branch in Chicago, Second Federal Savings & Loan Association of Chicago 

In 1882, a bank was established in the Little Village community of Chicago, and it has been serving immigrants ever since. In 1974, Kern Central Credit Union formed in Bakersfield, California to serve employees of a refinery and, later, employer groups such as the United Farm Workers of America. A few years later, on the other side of the country, four nuns started a credit union in Apopka, Florida, also serving local farmworkers. And around this same time, a number of credit unions sprang up in North Carolina to serve employees of textile mills and other manufacturing plants.

These are just a few of the 21 financial institutions—69 institutions, including all their branches—that have now merged into the Self-Help family. You’ve probably never heard of them, but they all have remarkable stories rooted in the communities they serve. This year, Self-Help Credit Union (SHCU) and Self-Help Federal Credit Union (SHFCU) have launched a joint project to preserve their stories in a series of video documentaries.

This Legacy Project is far-reaching. Since 2004, the Self-Help family has merged with banks and credit unions in North Carolina, California, Florida and Chicago. These institutions have mission and goals that match Self-Help’s, all striving to expand economic opportunity and better the lives of their customers and members.

Meeting at Carolina Mountain Credit Union

A meeting at the Dupont Employees Credit Union founded in NC in 1974 and part of Self-Help Credit Union since 2009

The staff members and leaders of the new institutions joining Self-Help have years of experience and a comprehensive knowledge of their institutions’ histories. Some of them witnessed their credit unions’ foundations and thriving moments; others witnessed the financial struggles and eventual merger with Self-Help. They all have a story to tell, and we want to make sure that their stories are heard.

Watch our first legacy video just posted in February that focuses on St. Luke Credit Union in NC’s Bertie County. More videos are coming out soon!

Paul and Helen Chavez - Kern Central Credit Union

Cesar and Helen Chavez, founders of the Farm Workers Credit Union, which merged with Kern Central Credit Union and is now part of Self-Help Federal Credit Union (1960s)


Lauren Marlot is a graduate of the SKEMA Business School with a background in digital marketing. This year she has been working with the Self-Help communications team to produce a series of videos to preserve the history of the entire Self-Help family. 

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