Credit Union Announces New Mortgage Manager

Mortgage Manager

Photo: Gina Wright, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union Mortgage Manager

Wentzville, MO (October 8, 2019) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, a not for profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), recently named Gina Wright as its Mortgage Manager. Wright brings twenty years of experience in the financial industry to the new position.

As Mortgage Manager, Wright will lead the mortgage department to a new level of success with a streamlined approach to lending and an emphasis on building and sustaining community and business relationships.

“My diversity of roles at the credit union has given me so much insight into what people need and want in a financial institution,” said Wright. “I’m so excited to help our members achieve the American dream of owning a home.”

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Volunteers at Connections to Success

1st Financial Staff standing in front of Connections to Success building

 

Wentzville, MO (September 27, 2019) – In September 1st Financial Federal Credit Union’s Helping People 1st Grant was awarded to Connections to Success of St. Charles.

1st Financial’s Helping People 1st program consists of a monthly $500 grant plus paid volunteer hours each month for credit union staff to serve hands-on at local nonprofits.

Connections to Success nominated Pierre, a Connections to Success graduate, as the recipient of the Helping People 1st grant. Pierre has devoted time to facilitating several programs to help victims of violent crime and plans to continue that work.

Nine 1st Financial employees also volunteered for 8 hours with Connections to Success to help organize clothing donations which provide individuals with essentials for an interview – from clothing to confidence – so that they can find employment and re-enter the workforce.

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

About Connections to Success
Connections to Success is a local organization which provides services and support to break the cycle of poverty. The organization serves to empower people that are transitioning from poverty, incarceration, and domestic violence to economic independence. For more information about Connections to Success, visit https://connectionstosuccess.org/.

Check Presentation

Photo: 1st Financial Employees presenting the Helping People 1st Grant to Pierre.

employees volunteering

Photo: 1st Financial employees volunteering with Connections to Success.


Credit Union and Urban League Partner for Financial Empowerment

Urban League Press Conference

(From left to right: Gina Hakenewerth, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, Tracy Verner, Community Development Manager, Kiara Jefferson, Financial Empowerment Coordinator, and Laura Woods, Vice President of Marketing and Community Presence)

Wentzville, MO (August 28, 2019) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis embark on a partnership to bring financial capabilities to the North St. Louis community.

Since 2015, The Urban League’s Save Our Sons program has sought to help more than 450 economically-disadvantaged African American men living in the St. Louis metropolitan community find jobs and have the opportunity to earn livable wages.  This program completes these objectives by assisting the participants in obtaining post-secondary education and job training and teaching the imperative career-skills and work ethic necessary to become successful employees while entering today’s workforce.

1st Financial Federal Credit Union serves this vital program with financial empowerment resources such as free checking accounts, access to transportation loans and credit building counseling.  According to the FDIC’s 2013 survey, St. Louis area households were unbanked or underbanked at a rate of 23.4%, slightly above the national average, however, 50.8% of African American residents of the St. Louis area were either unbanked or underbanked – nearly double the national average.  The Urban Institute also recently reported a large disparity of credit score in St. Louis as predominately black neighborhoods reported an average credit score of 552, while white areas of St. Louis averaged over 730. The partnership between the Urban League and 1st Financial to intentionally serve disadvantaged African American households with immediate access to financial tools, provides large scale economic impacts for St. Louis.

In March of 2019, the credit union was excited to learn they had been the recipient of a St. Louis County Community Development Block Grant, which allowed them to hire a full-time employee, intended to serve the clients of the Save Our Sons program, on site.

Laura Woods, VP of Community Presence & Marketing said, “1st Financial is a not for profit financial institution with the understanding that true financial empowerment requires access to comprehensive checking and loan products. All people need access to these crucial, and often unreachable, financial products as a baseline to maintain and grow a healthy community.”

To aid in the providing financial education and products, Kiara Jefferson has been hired as a full time Financial Empowerment Coordinator, at the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center and the Save Our Sons & Better Life Outreach Center as an employee of the credit union. Jefferson is now providing free financial counseling, access to credit building loans and checking accounts to the clients of Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis throughout North St. Louis.

Carol Minges, 1st Financial CEO, said, “Together, with the Urban League we can provide the community access to a full spectrum of financial services and resources. We believe that everyone should have access to a checking account and non-predatory loan products.”

1st Financial specializes in creating and deploying products and services that provide asset building, credit repairing, and safe borrowing options for consumers in St. Louis and St. Charles who may not have qualified at a traditional financial institution.

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

About the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis exists to empower African Americans and others throughout the region in securing economic self-reliance, social equality, and civil rights.  The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. takes a holistic approach to economic empowerment and self sufficiency. Through community programs in three counties across the bi-state region, it helps its clients to climb out of poverty by helping them to find economic opportunity, providing educational excellence and community empowerment and encouraging civil rights and advocacy. The League’s Community Empowerment Initiative provides clients in need with food, clothing and other life necessities while strengthening families and helping people become self-sufficient. The Education Excellence Initiative encourages and enables participants to apply learning to everyday situations, to embrace technology and to achieve academic excellence. The Economic Opportunity Initiative provides resources to strengthen individuals, families, and communities by improving and climbing the economic “ladder” to a better quality of life. For more information about the Urban League, please contact (314) 615-3668 or www.ulstl.com.


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Supports 9,000 Local Students

employees volunteering

Photo: 1st Financial Employees volunteering at the KidSmart Warehouse.

Wentzville, MO (August 27, 2019) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, a not for profit community development financial institution recently volunteered at KidSmart Tools for Learning by packing school supply bags for 360 teachers that will directly impact 9,000 students in need in the St. Louis Area

1st Financial Federal Credit Union is a local Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that is focused on serving the community through education, job training, and sustainable housing resources. 1st Financial has donated $3,500 and 296 volunteer hours to local not for profits year-to-date in 2019.

KidSmart Tools for Learning is a local nonprofit that opened in 2002 and is continuously growing every day. Donations from individuals and businesses help keep the shelves of KidSmart’s Free Store stocked with everything from crayons, markers and glue. Community volunteers stock the shelves, manage inventory and keep the free store running each shopping day.

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.


1st Financial Federal Credit Union Announces New Vice President of Technology

PostDispatch_donnDischert_1

Photo: Donn Dischert, Vice President of Technology

 

Wentzville, MO (August 20, 2019) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, a not for profit community development financial institution, has recently announced Donn Dischert as the Vice President of Technology.

Mr. Dischert brings more than 15 years of experience in programming, project management, operations management and IT experience to 1st Financial. He specializes in providing member-driven service, problem-solving, and team motivation and leadership. Most recently, Donn held the role of Group Manager – Radiology Imaging Informatics at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. He also served in the United States Army as an Infantry Team Leader in the 10th Mountain Division.

“We are excited to have Donn on our team and we’re confident that his leadership will bring the benefits of robust technology offerings while keeping security as a top priority for our members.” said Carol Minges, CEO of 1st Financial Federal Credit Union.

With Donn’s extensive knowledge and years of experience, he will help 1st Financial continue its mission to exceed the financial needs and service expectations of their members, staff, and community.

“I am thrilled to be part of the 1st Financial community! I commit to helping our members achieve their financial dreams through accessible, user-friendly and functional technology,” said Donn Dischert, Vice President of Technology, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union.

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles county, St. Louis county, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.


St. Louis Credit Union Celebrates Milestone for Million Dollar Giveback

Wentzville (July 23, 2019) –  1st Financial Federal Credit Union has announced a milestone of being halfway to reaching their goal to make and save $1 million for their 35,000 members throughout St. Louis and St. Charles County in 2019.  The 2019 “Million Dollar Challenge” began in January of this year and aims to put as much money as possible in the hands of the people who bank at 1st Financial.

Since the inception of the challenge, 1st Financial has given away more than $38K in checking account interest, $12K in savings interest, $3K in ATM fee refunds, $2K in debit card cashback and $18K in other reward checking refunds and interest.  Additionally, they have refinanced more than 309 loans from other lenders, with an average savings of $1,300 in interest payments per loan, for a reduction in loan interest payments of more than $400K for their members.

“The challenge is simple really. We want to save and make our members money and the Million Dollar Challenge is a fun way to do it. I’m excited to announce that as of July 1, our members have earned $565,128!” said Carol Minges, 1st Financial CEO.

Members of 1st Financial can make up to $600 per year in free reward checking bonuses and earn up to 16 times the national average in savings interest, as well as huge reductions in loan interest on auto loans with refinancing.  To learn more about becoming a 1st Financial member and the Million Dollar Challenge visit www.TheBetterWayToBank.org.

Each of the 1st Financial branches in St. Louis, Hazelwood, St. Charles and Wentzville will be celebrating this milestone over the coming weeks with free refreshments and giveaways. Come celebrate on Friday, August 16th with their halfway to a million milestone.

About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

 

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles County, St. Louis County, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

 

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St. Louis Credit Union Named a Best Place to Work

Wentzville, MO (July 23, 2019) – 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, a not for profit community development financial institution serving people throughout St. Louis and St. Charles County, was recently awarded a 2019 Top Workplaces honor by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Top Workplaces winners are picked based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey measuring several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few. The just over 100 employees of 1st Financial chose the credit union as a top workplace, citing a higher sense of purpose and integrity in the work they do, as a primary reason.

Carol Minges, 1st Financial CEO said, “Our employees are the key reason for our success. I’m grateful to work with such a passionate team of employees who believe in our vision to help our members achieve their financial dreams.”

On top of being a member-owned financial cooperative which exists to serve their community, 1st Financial provides a competitive employee benefits package including health insurance, employer-paid life insurance, retirement savings 401(k) with employer match, paid vacation, and 10 paid holidays. Plus, a paid birthday holiday, wellness program, gym membership subsidy, tuition reimbursement, employee assistance program, employee loan program, paid time off to volunteer in the community each month, and development opportunities.

“Top Workplaces put the employee at the center of things and focuses on creating the right environment to unleash potential and inspire performance,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage, the Post-Dispatch’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.

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About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Established in 1968, 1st Financial Federal Credit Union is a full-service financial cooperative whose mission is to improve the financial well-being of its members. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or worships within St. Charles County, St. Louis County, or the City of St. Louis.  For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, visit www.thebetterwaytobank.org.


Making an Impact on Our Community

Making an Impact

1st Financial Federal Credit Union is more than just a banking institution. Like all credit unions, we were created with a philosophy of ‘People Helping People’. We’re more than just a checking account or auto loan service provider.  We are a not for profit community development financial institution, using our limited resources to change lives throughout the St. Louis and St. Charles communities. We are making an impact in our community.

Helping People 1st Grant: Studies show that some of the largest hurdles for financial success stem from issues with sustainable housing, job training, and education in our communities. To help we’ve created a community development program that offers small monthly grants to local nonprofits and government programs to strategically support their efforts. In Q2 2019, we awarded Beyond Housing, Little Bits Foundation and Habitat for Humanity ReStore with Helping People 1st grants.

Volunteer Days: As part of our commitment to the community, we offer financial resources to our local nonprofits focused on education, job training, and sustainable housing.  But we also know that financial resources are not always the biggest need for these organizations.  For that reason, we offer every employee 8 hours of paid volunteer time each month, to serve our partners in a hands-on way in the community. Our volunteer team served Beyond Housing by painting a home for a very deserving family in need. At the Little Bits Foundation we worked in the warehouse where we sorted through donations that will be going out to the local schools. We also teamed up with Habitat for Humanity ReStore to organize and price items to help offset the cost of building homes for families in need.

At 1st Financial, we want you to know that when you invest your money in one of our checking accounts or auto loans, you’ve done more than give yourself a low-cost banking product. You’ve also invested in the future success and continued change in the communities that you love.

Where you bank really does matter!


Making an Impact in 2019

1st Financial Federal Credit Union is more than just a banking institution. Like all credit unions, we were created with a philosophy of ‘People Helping People’. This means we have the pleasure of being more than just a checking account or auto loan service provider.  We are a not for profit financial institution, using our limited resources to change lives throughout the St. Louis and St. Charles communities. I have the pleasure to work hands-on with several ways we are making an impact in our communities.

Helping People 1st Grant: We have created community development programs that offer small monthly grants to nonprofits and government programs which are focused in the areas of providing sustainable housing, job training, and education to our communities.  These are the areas we see our members having some of the largest hurdles for financial success and it is our desire to use our limited resources to assist our community to overcome and succeed in each of these capacities. So far, this first quarter we have served, Connections to Success, Mission: St. Louis and Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. We have been able to grant $1,500 to help assist individuals at each of these nonprofits.

Volunteer Days: As part of our commitment to the community, we offer financial resources to our local nonprofits focused on education, job training, and sustainable housing.  We also know that financial resources are not always the biggest need for these organizations.  For that reason, we offer every employee 8 hours of paid volunteer time each month, to serve our partners in the community. I was given the wonderful opportunity to work directly with each of our community partners throughout the first quarter. We assisted Connections to Success with organizing donations and assisting with their office work. Mission: St. Louis allowed us to come in and paint a classroom that will serve individuals in St. Louis. We also teamed up with Mad City Money to work with Hazelwood West High School students in a hands-on financial reality fair that help prepared students for their financial future.

Million Dollar Challenge: Our mission at the credit union is to make and save our members money. In 2019, it’s our goal to make and save our members a combined One Million Dollars by refinancing existing loans at a better rate with lower payments, make money with rewards checking, and grow money with high yield savings. As of April 1st, we have been able to save our members $267,623 for far this year.

#YouDidThat: We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our members. As a cooperative that started more than 50 years ago to provide banking services in a way that promoted sharing, trust and cooperation, we are so proud of what you have helped us become. Investing in 1st Financial is about more than your checking account, it’s a way to leverage your investment into affecting real and lasting change in some of the most under-served communities in St. Louis. #YouDidThat

At 1st Financial, we want you to know that when our members invest their money in one of our checking accounts or auto loans, they have done more than give themselves a low-cost banking product. They have also invested in the future success and continued change in the communities they love. Make where you bank matter!

Be the Difference,

Chelsea Springli


Reflecting on 50 Acts of Cooperation

I say this all the time… I have the best job ever!  This year, we’ve been celebrating our 50th anniversary with 50 Small Acts of Cooperation. 50 Acts of Cooperation was born out of the idea that when we work together we can accomplish great things. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to help make each of our 50 Acts come to life. Here is a look back at just a few of my favorite Acts of Cooperation.

Community Gas Act: Just last month, we went to a gas station near our St. Charles branch and bought gas for some lucky people in our community. The expressions on their faces were priceless, but one lady really stood out to me that day. You see she had been hit pretty hard by life lately. That afternoon she decided to pull off into the gas station to grab some gas and take a minute for herself. When we walked up to her vehicle her eyes were closed so we quietly tapped on the glass and asked if we could buy her gas. Immediately she began to cry and tell us how much our small Act meant to her. I was taken back by her emotions and just felt overwhelmingly grateful to be a part of this mission of giving back.

Our members doing great things in the community: I was given the wonderful opportunity to help make the 50 Acts of Cooperation program come to life. Every time a nomination came in, I was blown away by the good things that our members were doing in the community like feeding the homeless, organizing donations drives, and more. It only takes one small act of kindness to start a chain reaction in our community. That’s what cooperation and community looks like.

Volunteers make all the difference: Through the 50 Acts of Cooperation, my team and I served our community through volunteerism 11 times throughout the year. Everything from organizing school supplies to walking dogs and even being able to be a teacher for a day through Junior Achievement. It’s so rewarding to work for a company that not only gives back the community and allows us 8 hours of paid time off each month to serve our community hands-on.

50 Years of Dedication: Over the years, 1st Financial’s name has changed to reflect the growth of our community. However, today, my credit union has served hundreds of thousands of people in our community by providing them with important financial products and services. I am thankful for the dedication of our members, our community partners, and our employees who have shaped my credit union over the past 50 years. Without all of you, 1st Financial would not be what it is today.

Through the 50 Acts of Cooperation, we’ve completed 11 nonprofits acts, 11 volunteer acts, 16 member nominated acts, 8 1st Financial Department nomination acts and 4 community acts of cooperation. 2018 was a year that showcased our commitment to the community, I’m so excited to see what 2019 brings us.

Here’s to 50 more years,

Chelsea Springli