Northeast Community Credit Union is celebrating its 70th anniversary this month, marking more than seven decades of serving the area through financial services and community outreach.
Northeast Community Credit Union was chartered in October 1952 as Elizabethton Teachers Credit Union. Then Elizabethton City School Superintendent Mack Pierce and eight of the city’s school teachers– including Northeast Community Credit Union Director Emeritus Bill Armstrong – set out to create the foundations of the new credit union.
“At the time, teachers were paid very small amounts, usually averaging about $40 a month, and were not paid in the summer as they are now,” Armstrong said. “When it came time to finance their dreams, the educators of Carter County did not have many options available to help them reach their own personal finance goals.”
This is where the vision to start Elizabethton Teachers Credit Union started. The credit union had humble beginnings, operating out of the secretary’s office in the Elizabethton City School administration building. The superintendent’s secretary would take deposits from the teachers a few days a week, write them in a ledger, and keep records of transactions.
“The teachers would make deposits as they could, sometimes just a few dollars, but they were working to reach their own goals and to help give the credit union a solid start,” said NCCU Board Member Kathy Campbell, who was the first full-time manager of the credit union.
These savings transactions provided enough for the credit union to issue its first loan to one of the original members. John Large, one of the eight teachers there in the very beginning, was issued a loan for $200 to buy a new washer and dryer for his home.
Elizabethton Teachers Credit Union stayed in its first home for many years and continued using ledger books and calculators for recordkeeping until 1983 when it became the smallest credit union in business at the time to take its operations online to a computer system. The credit union continued to grow and eventually found a new home in downtown Elizabethton, and the charter was changed to allow membership to employees of over 70 local businesses.
In 1996 the name was changed to Northeast Community Credit Union to better reflect the composition of its membership. Membership was opened to anyone who lived, worked or worshipped in Carter County. One year later, the main office at 980 Jason Witten Way was completed, and in one more year the staff at the credit union had doubled; soon, three new branch offices would be opened from which it now does business as well – an additional Elizabethton office, one in Johnson City, and one in Roan Mountain.
Northeast Community Credit Union has been the recipient of many awards and accolades over the years, including national recognition as Community Credit Union of the Year; one of its chartering volunteers, Mr. Bill Armstrong, was recognized as National Director of the Year and the Credit Union consistently scores in the top 2 percent of strongest financial institutions in the United States. It was the only financial institution among all banks and credit unions in the Tri-Cities area to make the DepositAccount.com Top100.
Northeast Community Credit Union maintains a visible, active presence in the area by working every day to give back to members and the community. Each year, Northeast Community Credit Union donates thousands of dollars to local non-profit organizations, along with hundreds of volunteer man hours by credit union employees and directors, and with contributions of assistance or supplies to organizations and individuals in need. NCCU has received designation by the US Treasury Department as a CertifiedDevelopment Financial Institution (CDFI) due to its work with low-income individuals and financial assistance programs.
Another way Northeast Community Credit Union reaches the community is through its monthly “HelpingTeachers Teach” grant. NCCU started out as a credit union for teachers and remains true to its roots by providing needed assistance to educators however possible. Northeast Community Credit Union also supports local high school seniors with the William Armstrong Scholarship, a $500 scholarship to help pay the costs of post-secondary school.
NCCU is widely known for working to increase financial literacy among young people and for its efforts to improve the lives of others. This is evidenced through involvement in local schools; it hosts student-run branches at Unaka High School and Elizabethton High School, and voluntarily teaches classes in many of the area schools to better prepare students for a life of good financial health. For adults, the Credit Union offers money tips and free counseling by a certified financial counselor, assists with debt consolidation, and provides resources for people struggling to pay their bills or rebuild their credit.
NCCU also works with several community organizations including Carter County Imagination Library, TLCCommunity Center, Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter, Roan Mountain Citizens Club, RedLegacy, Second Harvest Food Bank, Assistance Resource Ministries, United Way of Elizabethton/CarterCounty, Shepherd’s Inn, Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center, Relay for Life, Carter County Cattleman’sAssociation, Elizabethton River Riders, Elizabethton Kiwanis Club and many others to provide sponsorships, volunteers, donations and supplies as needed.
“We have a rich history of service and look forward to a bright future as we continue that tradition. We will always try to find a way to help people, and we will always consider their best interests first,” Teresa Arnold, NCCU President/CEO said.
NCCU has been serving the community since October 1952 and service is open to those who live, work, worship or attend school in Carter, Johnson, Washington, Unicoi and Sullivan counties along with their family members. Northeast Community Credit Union is an insured non-profit cooperative member-owned institution. The credit union has loan and CD specials this month along with days for refreshments and giveaways, plus web promotions as part of the celebration.