Many of us today have had an interest in our “roots” or family origin. Similarly, our own credit has a most interesting origin.
Perhaps sensing the ominous times ahead, 31 teachers from the Springfield School System began to meet at 32 Spring Street as an attempt to insure the financial security amongst its members. After several meetings, the Springfield Teacher’s Credit Union received, from the Commissioner of Banks and the Secretary of State, a Certificate of Incorporation on October 5, 1929. Phillip Fox was the first president and recorded assets of $2,160.
For many years the credit union operated after school out of Room 125 at Commerce High School until property at 427 State Street was purchased in the 1960’s. The membership continued to grow over the next several decades until it became necessary to expand once again.
Ground was broken on the current main office at 145 Industry Avenue in Springfield on November 4, 1988, and the credit union opened its doors on August 7, 1989.
In 2015, after examining how to better serve all of our members and create an identity that truly represents who we are today, we decided to change our name to Arrha Credit Union. Arrha, meaning a pledge in earnest, is one of the oldest words in the english language and reflects our pledge to assist our members in reaching their financial goals by providing superior products and services in a personal manner.
The credit union has continued to expand since that time and opened a branch in West Springfield at 63 Park Avenue on June 1, 2016. Since our humble beginnings, we have grown and expanded our membership to a much bigger community. Our Credit Union boasts over 11,000 members with assets of 120 million dollars.
Brief History of Credit Unions
Credit unions had their origins in India and Germany. But the credit union as we know it, came through Canada. The great leader and founder of the Canadian Credit Union was Alphonse Desjardins, a Quebec journalist. In 1909, he also organized the first credit union in the United States in the Sainte Marie Parish of Manchester, New Hampshire. The first general credit union legislation in this country was passed in Massachusetts in 1909 after an investigation by Pierre Jay, State Banking Commissioner. It revealed not only a need for a weapon to fight loan sharks, but what the best weapon was. Edward A. Filene, millionaire Boston merchant also testified for the State Banking Commission and related successes of credit unions in India and Germany to the state legislature. Filene’s wealth, enthusiasm and driving interest played a major part in getting the law passed and largely for the growth of credit unions in the United States.
The simple principles of the credit union as Filene envisioned hold true today. A group of people with common ties and interests keep control of their own savings and their own credit and use them for mutual benefit of the group. And what may be called the gospel of the credit union: A woman or man is to be honored and respected not for what he has but for what he is. Therefore, loans shall be made to credit union members not because they have so much security that they do not really need a loan, but because their name is a good name and because their fellow members honor that good name. As we embark towards the 21st Century in our new 1.5 million dollar building let us not forget that our “roots” began with 31 teachers who had the foresight and wisdom to safeguard the futures of their fellow teachers and families.