July 12, 2005
Appalachian Federal Credit Union Celebrates Silver Anniversary With New HQ
by William Baue
With $16 million in assets, AFCU helps counteract poverty in one of the poorest regions of the US
by providing fairly priced loans to low-income earners, even those with bad credit histories.
Appalachian Federal Credit Union (AFCU) recently celebrated its twenty-fifth
anniversary, commemorating the past and simultaneously launching headlong into the future by
opening a new headquarters in Berea, Kentucky. The ribbon-cutting for the new building hearkened
back to the founding of AFCU by Jack and Connie McLanahan, who started laying the groundwork in
1976 for what was then called the Central Appalachian People's Federal Credit Union.
|AFCU Board Chair Beth Yost (at center in black) and CEO, Marcus Bordelon (at center in
red) surrounded by board, staff, and volunteers just prior to the ribbon-cutting.|
AFCU, which is one of the most successful rural community development credit unions
(CDCUs) with $16 million in assets, distinguishes itself through a unique tripartite affiliation
structure that operates under the moniker of "Appalbanc." AFCU collaborates with the Federation of
Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE), which
provides mortgages to low-income families, and the Human/Economic Appalachian Development
Corporation (HEAD), which promotes economic
self help for low-income community residents. These three community development financial
institutions (CDFIs) leverage each other's resources to create synergies for helping inhabitants of
one of the poorest regions in the US.
"Appalachian FCU, together with FAHE and HEAD, can
meet a whole range of human and financing needs that the credit union alone could not necessarily
address," said Cliff Rosenthal, executive director the National Federation of Community Development
Credit Unions (NFCDCU). All 225 US-based CDCUs,
which are cooperatively owned, tax-exempt nonprofits with a special mission to serve low-income
people and communities, belong to the Federation.
The poverty of Appalachia makes it
particularly vulnerable to predatory lending, or loans that abuse borrowers through overly high
interest rates or terms structured to take advantage of financial inexperience. AFCU counteracts
this problem by offering fairly priced loans to members, even those with imperfect, limited, or
nonexistent credit histories, as well as by providing financial education. Other services include
savings accounts insured up to $100,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a US government agency.
anniversary dinner, AFCU honored Mr. Rosenthal's work promoting CDCUs at the national level with
the Jack and Connie McLanahan Cooperative Spirit Award. The award was named for the pioneering
husband-and-wife team who were inducted into the National
Cooperative Business Association's Co-op Hall of Fame in 1991, in part for their role in founding
the three prongs of Appalbanc--AFCU, FAHE, and HEAD.
The AFCU anniversary dinner also
posthumously honored Mr. McLanahan, who died in 2003 at the age of 92. Mr. McLanahan was appointed
by President Truman in 1937 to represent the US cooperative/credit union movement on the national
commission for the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he met his wife and lifelong
collaborator Connie Ablett. The anniversary dinner also honored AFCU volunteer, staff and board
member Peter Reilly, who died prematurely this year at the age of 5