WEIRTON - West Virginia Credit Union President Ken Watts says 75 years after the credit union movement was born, they remain "a safe haven in tough economic times."
Watts' remarks came at the Weirton-Wellsburg Chapter's 51st-annual International Credit Union Day dinner, held this year at Williams Country Club.
"This year marks a special time for our League, which is celebrating its 75th year of existence," said Watts, a Parkersburg resident, pointing out the idea of forming a support organization for credit unions in West Virginia was developed even before the first credit union was chartered in West Virginia. The Credit Union Bureau of West Virginia was established in 1924 to assist interested groups in forming their own credit union. It would be 13 years 1937 before the League was formally established to ensure that credit unions had a strong advocate to represent and support them on the state level.
CELEBRATING FOUNDING — Among the attendees at the Weirton-Wellsburg Chapter of the West Virginia Credit Union League dinner celebrating the founding of the credit union movement 75 years ago were, from left, Dan Dudley, Eagle Can Employees FCU; Russell Loar, Strip Steel Community FCU; Janet Stagani, president of the Weirton-Wellsburg Chapter and Tin Mill Employees FCU; John R. Thayer, First Choice America Community FCU; Ken Watts, president of the West Virginia Credit Union League and the guest speaker; Master of Ceremonies John Sorrenti; JoAnn Kerr, Hancock School Employees FCU; Scott Winwood, First Choice America Community FCU; Linda Cattrell, First Choice America Community FCU; Jack Hatala, Tin Mill Employees FCU; and Susan Mains, Tin Mill Employees FCU.
"Our purpose since that time has not wavered - which is to help credit unions be successful, to promote the mission of credit unions, and to defend credit unions from those that want to see an end to their existence," he said.
"This milestone - our 75th anniversary - is rare among organizations. The League is not a building in Parkersburg, nor is it a group of individuals who are employed by the organization. Rather, the League is a collection of credit unions in West Virginia who understand that by banding together they can do much more for their members than they can accomplish individually."
Watts said many people consider credit unions a place "where they save and borrow, a place where debit cards are free, or a place where a weekly paycheck is deposited.
"But to those who have been involved in this chapter and the League, you know the credit union movement has become a safe haven in tough economic times," he said. "It was true in the 1930s and it rings true today."
Watts said there are 49,000 credit unions around the world. The Weirton-Wellsburg chapter includes the Tin Mill Community FCU, First Choice America FCU, Eagle Can Employees FCU, Hancock School Employees FCU and Strip Steel Community FCU.
Welcoming guests to the banquet was Janet Stagani, president of the local chapter and president of the Tin Mill FCU. John J. Sorrenti of Weirton was emcee. Russell Loar of the Strip Steel Community FCU was dinner chairman. Raymond DelFiandra led the Pledge of Allegiance, the prayer and delivered the benediction.