In June of 1959, a group of school employees met to consider the formation of a credit union for their co-workers in the greater Washington, PA area. From this original group of 10, each contributing $5.25, the Washington Area Teachers Federal Credit Union was chartered. By the end of 1959 the credit union had grown to 52 active members.
In the early years, loan demand exceeded deposit growth, so the credit union had to wait until it received a large deposit or had to borrow money to fund some of the loans to the members. As the credit union membership expanded and the share deposits increased, there was adequate capital to meet the loan demand, and WATFCU grew quickly. By the mid-1960s, your credit union was able to pay members bonus dividends due to the profitable operation of the organization.
A network of in-school volunteers was the primary marketing channel for the credit union. These dedicated individuals would provide informational brochures and be “the faces of WATFCU” for their school districts. This practice would continue for many years; even today, WATFCU counts on its current members to spread the word to potential members about the benefits of belonging to the credit union.
By 1969, WATFCU had over 400 members and had processed more than 800 loans totaling $500,000, without a loss or write-off of any of the borrowed funds!
In the 1970s, the members were issued passbooks to keep track of their accounts. The book was mailed to the credit union along with a check for deposit. Once the transaction was performed and the book updated, it was then mailed back to the member, which was a truly “modern and convenient way to bank.”
By 1979, our 20th year in operation, the credit union had 1013 members. Payroll deduction was available for members for the first time and retirees were encouraged to use direct deposit for their pension benefits. The employees of W&J College were added to our field of membership. The first computer was installed and the handwritten ledger books became a thing of the past.
The 1980s were a decade of significant growth and changes at WATFCU, capped off by the relocation of the operations from the home of one of the founding members to our location at 1245 Park Avenue. Just a few years later, we purchased the property next door and more than doubled the size of our building and parking facilities, to keep up with the needs of the membership.
In 2013, our continued growth lead to the construction of a second location at 75 Landings Drive. This location opened in September 2014 and is now our main office, housing our operations and loan departments as well as our senior management team. Meadows Landing offers added services to our members such as a free-to-members ATM and coin-counting machine.
Today, Washington Area Federal Credit Union is a full-service financial institution committed to providing quality products and services combined with exceptional customer care to meet the needs of a growing membership. The local schools are still a big part of our membership and we have since welcomed many other organizations as well. We are dedicated to our existing organizations and look forward to bringing the benefits of credit union membership to other organizations in the future.