An article was printed in the Cumberland Times-News requesting a meeting of all Allegany County teachers who were interested in forming a credit union. Catherine and Paul Footen, along with 50 other people, attended the meeting and Paul was elected treasurer. For the next 26 years, the day-to-day operations were handled from Mr. Footen’s Barton home. Throughout his service, Paul took little credit for his work, often heaping praises on his fellow officers: Joseph Haugen, vice president; John “Chip” Grindle, secretary; Margaret Ringler, director, and Ruth Hanson, clerk.
In 1964, as business grew, Paul hired an assistant, Eileen McDonald, a former secretary at the Board of Education. In each school, an assigned member of the credit union acted as a collector to handle payments from members.
Later, in 1974, working from her Holland Street home in Cumberland, Rosalie Shobe assumed the credit union’s operations. She recorded all entries in ledgers, calculated dividends individually, and then posted manually.
In 1976, the credit union operations moved to 1225B National Highway in LaVale, and Raymond C. Dorn filled the position as Manager/Treasurer. Mrs. Shobe, a director at the time, worked as loan officer and collector of delinquent accounts. The total assets then were a little less than $1,000,000.00, but by the time of Dorn’s retirement in 1985, the assets had grown to $3,000,000.00. The introduction of computers made the bookkeeping simpler. Payroll deduction was made possible, dividends were calculated automatically, and statements were printed quarterly and sent by courier to the school.
In 1992, Manager Patricia Folk and her staff of four moved to a larger facility at 14316 National Highway, the first property actually owned by the credit union. Much of the remodeling was completed by George Schoenadel. Later, a night drop and drive-up window were added to better meet the needs of the members.
After 65 years in existence, the ACT 1st Federal Credit Union membership has grown to over 9,000. Folk and Vice-President Christie Clark, supervise a staff of 24, and the assets have grown to over $96 million.
Folk and Clark have helped to provide many new products and services to the members. For instance, share certificates of deposit, mortgages, credit cards, and debit cards were added. In 2000, an ATM machine was provided to allow access to funds twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week. In 2001, a bill-payment service was added, along with ART, the credit union’s Audio Response Teller. With this service, members can dial in to verify balances, check cleared drafts, and transfer funds from one account to another. In 2006, Home Banking was added to the credit union’s growing list of E-Services allowing members to access their accounts through a secure Internet connection.
Today the ACT 1st Federal Credit Union offers full-service banking and an informational website to inform members of the wide variety of products and services offered.
The foundation of our organization, established by the early volunteers and now managed by Patricia Folk, continues to promote the trust that began over a half century ago. The cohesiveness of the members who support the organization, the volunteers who serve on the board and committees, and the staff who so diligently perform their duties while maintaining an open and friendly relationship, are responsible for our successes.