Even in the midst of the recent economic downturn, credit unions have remained strong, secure financial institutions, dedicated to serving their members as well as their communities. A perfect example of this modern-day state of credit unions can be seen in the positive impact and success of CFE Federal Credit Union (Lake Mary, FL).
Over the years CFE has grown from a small financial cooperative into the thriving credit union it is today, with total assets of over $1.347 billion and approximately 121,000 members as of April 2012. The credit union is consistently recommended by BauerFinancial for its strength and security, and it is rated 5-Stars.
Offering a full array of financial services including savings, checking, loans, credit cards, mortgages, as well as investment and business services, CFE serves its members at 19 full service branches, 4 high school branches, and 41 ATM locations throughout Central Florida. Members also enjoy 24-hour Internet and mobile banking.
75 Years of Success Built on Education
Founded in 1937 as Orange County Teachers' Federal Credit Union to serve the financial needs of educators, CFE is proud to be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. As Laura Richard, Marketing Manager, explains, twenty-three dedicated teachers formed the credit union's charter members. In 1978 membership was opened to the Osceola School District and the credit union’s name was changed to Central Florida Educators’ Federal Credit Union. Fast-forward to 2006, CFE was approved for a community charter and began doing business as “CFE Federal Credit Union” to reflect the diversity of its membership. CFE’s community charter then expanded its membership to anyone who lives, works, attends school, volunteers, or worships in Orange, Osceola, Lake, or Seminole Counties. Businesses are also welcome.
In November 2011, CFE Federal Credit Union merged with UCF Federal Credit Union bringing together two credit unions who share a heritage of service to education in Central Florida. The UCF FCU brand continues, operating as a division of CFE Federal Credit Union under CFE FCU's charter.
“At CFE, our promise is to always be there with each step along the individual financial paths of our members -- our genuine commitment, steadfast protection and unending support can only come from the most trusted of friends,” contends Richard.
A Credit Union Dedicated to Community, Honored for Service
As an active leader involved in the Central Florida community, CFE supports local schools and charitable organizations through numerous sponsorships and donations. Additionally, CFE’s senior management team and employees donate thousands of hours each year through serving on foundations and committees, performing financial literacy presentations, participating in 5k runs, collecting food, clothing, books, school supplies for needy families, and much more.
For its efforts, CFE has been honored with many community awards. For the past four years the credit union has been a recipient of the Louise Herring CU Philosophy in Action Award presented by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions. CFE also received the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award from the League of Southeastern Credit Unions in 2007, 2008 and 2011. And, in 2008, was honored with the Onyx Diversity Award for its commitment to diversity. “For CFE, however, the greatest reward is knowing that we have been instrumental in improving the lives of thousands of Central Florida residents and disaster victims around the globe,” says Richard.
Some of CFE’s award winning community involvement efforts include the following:
CFE’s members are enthusiastic supporters of the credit union’s community involvement. “CFE could not support the many organizations it does, without its members’ generous donations -- for five years, our members have voted CFE Best Credit Union in the Orlando Business Journal’s Readers Choice Awards,” says Richard.
CFE is “People Helping People”
The philosophy of “people helping people” is at the heart of all of CFE’s efforts. In addition to individual community initiatives, CFE helps its members each and every day with practical financial advice and affordable products that improve their financial well-beings while financial education is also a primary focus. “We offer free financial webinars throughout the year, and we’ve enlisted the financial fitness provider, BALANCE, to provide members with comprehensive financial education and counseling as a no-cost benefit of membership,” says Richard. Additionally, CFE staff conducts financial literacy presentations in classrooms across Central Florida, educating youth on the importance of saving and using credit responsibly.
The credit union also remains focused on “serving the underserved” by offering a Community Service account for members who are financially challenged, repairing their credit, or rebuilding their finances. Richard explains how the member may open a savings account with an ATM card, which offers convenience and allows them to avoid costly check cashing services. “CFE’s Community Care Loan Program also offers members two different loans designed to help them establish or repair credit and avoid the hidden costs of ‘payday loans.’”
The credit union has also been serving as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) preparation site for the sixth straight year. “We prepared over 755 tax returns and helped individuals recoup $1.2 million in refunds for 2011,” reports Richard. The IRS VITA program helps individuals across the country through community neighborhoods and organizations, and CFE is the only financial organization in the state of Florida that provides this service to the community, according to an IRS Report. “We are pleased to see that every year more and more people are taking advantage of the free VITA service offered by CFE,” says Joseph A. Melbourne, President & CEO of CFE. “This is just one of the many ways our credit union gives back to the community and exemplifies the credit union motto of people helping people.”
Get to know CFE Federal Credit Union by visiting their website.By Cyndi Cohen