Self-Help Shares

“A Burden was Lifted”: Credit Union Employee Reflects on a New Merger with an Old Partner

By staff
  | Feb 05, 2020

Octavia Alexander, employee of First Legacy Community Credit Union

Octavia Alexander has worked at First Legacy Community Credit Union for 12 years.

Octavia Alexander is a woman who laughs easily and often, but she’s also had her share of tears. In 13 years with First Legacy Community Credit Union, she has experienced the joy of serving members she loves, but also the troubles of a credit union that has gone through cycles of both good and hard times. These days she is feeling a new hope for the future as First Legacy merges with Self-Help Credit Union.

When Octavia came to work and heard news of the merger, her reaction was immediate. “A burden was lifted off my shoulders. I wanted to shout and run through this place!”

The merger between First Legacy Community Credit Union and Self-Help Credit Union was effective on January 1. As the two credit unions join, it is a marriage of partners that know each other well. Almost since Self-Help started (in 1984, 43 years after First Legacy), we have worked hand-in-hand with First Legacy as advocates for members, credit unions and for our common mission of expanding economic opportunities in the communities we serve. We have been mutual advisers, teachers and valued partners. 

Octavia is a living example of this longstanding partnership. Her connection with Self-Help goes back to 2010, but the story starts several years earlier.

In 2003, Octavia began working with Prosperity Unlimited, a nonprofit in Kannapolis, North Carolina, to make a dream come true: she badly wanted to own a home. Through Prosperity Unlimited, she gained knowledge of the home-buying process and began taking steps to qualify by reducing debt and saving money.

From the beginning of her quest to buy a home, Octavia encountered obstacles. First, she lost her job of 24 years. She returned to school and found another job, but then she discovered she was saddled with a tax lien due to actions taken by her ex-husband. This was not a simple matter; for years Octavia struggled to straighten out the tax problem. Finally, after countless letters and calls, the lien was removed.

By this time it was 2010, and Octavia had picked out a home she wanted to buy in Locust, a small town in Cabarrus County. When funds didn’t come through with one lender, Prosperity Unlimited helped her apply for another mortgage loan with a credit union. That credit union—you guessed it—was Self-Help.

Ultimately, Octavia was able to get a loan with the original lender, but Self-Help provided closing costs to complete the transaction. After years of delays and many prayers, Octavia moved into her new home in June 2010, where she continues to live today.  

Octavia Alexander's house in Locust, NC

Octavia Alexander was persistent and never lost her faith before finally buying her dream home in Locust, NC, near Charlotte.

During her long journey toward homeownership, Octavia also was making big changes in her work life. After Pillowtex shut down, a company where she had worked for 24 years, she went back to school and then started a job at a hospital—a position she didn’t like.

Through Prosperity Unlimited, she was connected to First Legacy Community Credit Union. In 2007, First Legacy hired her as a teller for its branch in Kannapolis, and ultimately she was promoted to branch manager. In 2014, the Kannapolis branch closed, and she came to First Legacy’s Charlotte office and started working with members who were behind on loan payments. Again she was promoted to a management position.

Octavia loved First Legacy and her job. “I used to tell my mother that this job came straight from heaven,” she said. Even during hard times, her strong relationships with members have kept her spirits high. Long-time members tell her about their families—their births, weddings and funerals. They laugh together and sometimes cry together. “They ask for me when they come in,” she said. “Sometimes they need to talk.”

“To me, the merger was a good thing. I’m just excited, because sometimes it’s time for a change. I really truly believe God had His hand in it. Self-Help will uplift and shine First Legacy to bring it up again.”

First Legacy Community Credit Union was organized as School Workers FCU by African-American school employees in Charlotte in 1941. In the 1990s, it grew into the state’s largest black-owned credit union. It changed its name when it merged with two other African-American CDCUs, Rowan-Iredell Area Credit Union and Compact Credit Union, during the 2000s and now serves members in ten counties in southwestern NC as well as members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Read more about the merger here.




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