Tuesday, January 23, 2024

SECU: Consider This: Chapter 5 - The Creation Myth

 http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41bUyjop-UL._SX300_QL70_.jpg  SECU is different!

This one is sorta fun and I get to use a big word - "cosmogony".  

Most religions and most cultures (the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Aztecs, Australian aborigines, Native Americans) tell stories about how the world began. We all had to start somewhere, didn't we? Even the scientific community has its' own "how it all started" story; it's called "The Big Bang".  

The stories are intended to provide us with an explanation and some reassurance that "stuff doesn't just happen". These stories are often called "creation myths", or that fancy word "cosmogony". The painting above by Michelangelo is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. It shows The Catholic Church's view of God touching the fingertip of Adam and passing to him the spark of life. "In the beginning..." and the rest is history.

Most credit unions also have their own creation myths - often somewhat "gussied-up" and embellished. Folks at SECU for decades have gathered around the campfire to hear our creation story... "On June 4, 1937, 17 state employees and teachers in Raleigh pooled their meager resources of $437 to form State Employees' Credit Union..." and the rest is history. Sounds almost like a religion or cult following doesn't it? Well, for some of us it is...

😎 But, as with most idealistic ventures, there is usually a back story. Way-back-when, I received an enlightening letter from long-time member Paul Wright, some excerpts:

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/fe/f1/9a/fef19a8dc5b5621685015db67bafb609--interesting-history-retro-vintage.jpg "An interesting thing happened today when I went to get my hair cut. I was talking to a fellow named Tom Ellis and the State Employees' Credit Union popped up. I told him I was involved in helping it get started. Then I told him this story:

Back in 1932 I was a liquidating accountant for the State Banking Department. Mr. Gurney Hood was Commissioner of Banks and we had about 10 accountants and 12 or so bank examiners - all the banks were in trouble back then. As accountants, we were paid $75 a month and we were always broke. We'd ask the better paid examiners "lend me $10 'til payday". This went on for a year or so and the examiners started charging the always broke accountants around a $1 in interest on top. Soon you could borrow more than $10.

All was well until Mr. Hood found out about it.

He laid down the law: "If you are going to do this, you are going to do it legally. I hear this loan sharking operation has gone outside the Banking Department; employees of the State Revenue Department are involved too. You must get proper papers drawn up, you must have a name, and you must have a manager."

This was the beginning of the State Employees' Credit Union. That was the name we chose and the man we chose as manager was William W. Jones, who later became Commissioner of Banks. He became the first boss.

Tom Ellis suggested I tell you this story, that you might get a kick out of it. 'TIS A TRUE STORY!!"

😎 Well, I did get a "kick" out of the letter and it did not in any way tarnish my belief in those "17 apostles", with $437 who believed, with great purpose, that they could "capitalize on the character of their coworkers and help each other attain a better economic status." [see Chapter 4 - John Sprunt Hill

✅ Wanted to share the "TRUE STORY" with you because today: 1) many credit unions - and one in particular - seem to have "forgotten" why they were created, 2) seem to have "forgotten" who they were created to serve, and 3) seem to have "forgotten" that most of their member-owners still often live in a "paycheck-to-paycheck", "lend me $10 'til payday" world of economic stress....

... and of course, wanted to 4) remind the bankers that from its "creation" all SECU was ever trying to do was to save them from themselves... (still trying!)

✅ Is the true story of credit unions becoming a myth? 

                     ... it appears to be so in Raleigh, North Carolina.