Did you know that Credit Unions were established in the United States in the early 1900’s to serve the needs of professional, middle class and poorer people when the banks could not, and was relationship-based banking? Well, guess what? That’s exactly how our local TwinStar Credit Union got started, too.

Eighty years ago, America was in the grip of the Great Depression. The average house cost a little over $4,000, a gallon of gas cost 10 cents, and a Ford Tudor sedan cost $579. The average yearly wage was $1,780.

Many workers at that time, including teachers, could not find loans from banks at reasonable rates and terms. So, the teachers worked together to solve the problem, and decided to form their own credit union. By collectively pooling their funds, a credit union would give their fellow teachers the financial ability to do what they needed to get ahead in life.

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Olympia High School teachers Dewey Noblitt and Henry Gaines spearheaded the project. On January 3, 1938, the articles of incorporation were signed, and Thurston County Teachers Credit Union was born.

The credit union was able to issue personal signature loans because of the strong faith in the integrity and loyalty of  their members. It was not until 1948 that a loss on a loan was reported. The loss was 85 cents.

I’m sure at the time those teachers never would have guessed how much banking needs and services would change: online banking, direct deposit, credit cards, and even paying people with your phone!

This year, TwinStar Credit Union commemorated 80 years of service to its members and community with a dedication to a planted oak tree and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. The oak tree symbolizes 80 years of service, stability, growth and roots in the community.

“In 1938 there were 58 members. Today we are over 100,000 members strong. As our field of membership grew, Thurston County Teachers Credit Union became Twin County Credit Union, and then TwinStar Credit Union. Some things, however, never change. Our roots are in education, our members make the credit union who we are, and we still exist to help members realize their financial dreams…together.

Matt Devlin, TwinStar’s chief of marketing, said, “We grew from a schoolteacher’s desk drawer to a credit union with 20 branches, more than 120,000 members and over $1 billion in assets. I’m proud that we still place members first. We want to help them reach their financial goals and to strengthen the communities where we all live and work.”