Self-Help Shares

How 400 Homes were Saved in Chicago—and Why We Care

By Ellen Schloemer and Micheline Savarin
  | Aug 17, 2017

“I myself immigrated to this country when I was nine years old … My family came here because we needed and wanted a better life. Growing up in Mexico, I can recall all the hardships we endured. Little Village is a community that is full of hope."

     -  Roman Ruiz, branch manager, Second Federal Savings & Loan, a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union. From our short documentary, "A Legacy of Trust."

This week at Self-Help we released a new video that traces the history of Second Federal Savings & Loan, a bank serving immigrants on Chicago’s Little Village community since 1882.

Why are we telling the story of an old bank on the south side of Chicago?

First, we’re proud that Second Federal is now part of the Self-Help family. The bank merged with Self-Help Federal Credit Union in 2013, when the foreclosure crisis threatened to close down Second Federal and leave hundreds of its customers without a home.

But beyond that, Second Federal had a long history of serving immigrant families well before Self-Help came on the scene. When other banks fled to suburbs during the 1970s, Second Federal stayed. The bank became a pioneer in serving new immigrants, and became a place of trust and safety within the community.

We realized this unique history needs to be told and preserved.

The same is true for all of the credit unions and banks that have joined Self-Help in recent years. Many were started by groups such as farmworkers, employers, blue-collar workers, people of color and people of faith. They served manufacturing and hospital workers, teachers, African Americans, immigrants and others in low-income or rural communities.

So this video is part of an ongoing series of short videos designed to capture these histories. We’re calling the series Stories from Self-Help's Vault. The first video, focused on St. Luke in eastern North Carolina, was released earlier this year.  Please check in often—we’ll be adding more video stories over the next several months.

Videographer climbing on roof of Second Federal

Roger Flake, videographer and co-producer of “A Legacy of Trust,” went to great lengths to get his shots. Here he’s climbing on top of the Second Federal building in Little Village to get an aerial view. See more photos from the production of this video here.

Share This


Back to our blog