100 years of supporting your financial wellness

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Do you dream of a world where people lend a hand when needed? Where neighbors invest in each other? Where communities work together to enrich everyone?

So do we. In fact, those are the very ideals credit unions were founded on.

Now, more than ever, we need resilient communities—and credit unions offer an antidote to the extractive business practices that have left so many of our communities weakened. Instead of reaping profits and taking the money elsewhere, credit unions give back what we receive by reinvesting our profits in our local communities. Instead of answering to distant shareholders, we are owned by and accountable to the members we serve.

If you want to build a more caring, cooperative world, look no further than your local credit union. For the past 100 years, credit unions have been proving that competition isn’t the only way to do business. Cooperative business models work, and the proof is in our growing membership year after year. More than 274 million members in 118 countries recognize the credit union difference, we celebrate it every year on the third Thursday of October by observing International Credit Union Day.

This annual occasion celebrates the credit union movement and its foundational principle of people helping people. This year’s theme, “Building financial health for a brighter tomorrow,” highlights the work credit unions have been doing across the globe to shore up the financial future of not just individuals, but entire communities.

How credit unions got started

Many credit unions, like OCCU, have similar origin stories: A group of people realized they could achieve greater prosperity by pooling their money and making loans to each other.

In the early 1800s, workers in Europe began experimenting with cooperatives to share resources and help each other thrive. The first true credit union, founded in 1852, was a response to crop failure and famine that left Germany devastated. To aid his community’s recovery, a man named Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch organized a cooperatively owned mill and bakery as well as a “people’s bank” to provide credit to local entrepreneurs.

Since then, his idea has inspired countless communities around the world to pool their resources and provide banking services to each other via a local credit union.

What International Credit Union Day means to us

At OCCU, we’re carrying on this historic legacy by tending to the financial futures of both our members and the communities they live in. Financial services are only part of what we do. We also volunteer our time, partner with other nonprofits to support community-building initiatives, and raise funds to help our neighbors in need.

Improving our members’ financial wellness is important to us, but it’s not our only goal. Rather, it’s the first step toward building community resilience.

International Credit Union Day is an opportunity to spread the word about what we’re doing so more people will be inspired to embrace the cooperative model. As the credit union movement continues to gain momentum, our hope is that more communities will discover the value of investing in each other and working to enrich each other’s lives.

Interested in learning more about the credit union movement and how you can get involved? Visit our About Us or Community page to learn more about how financial wellness is tied into everything we do at OCCU.