The formation of Cooperative Federal Credit Union was based on a need. It came to fruition after many hours of hard work and the untiring dedication of ordinary people, specifically the founders and members of The Cooperative Fire Insurance Companies of Sullivan and Adjoining Counties.
The organizers of the insurance company consisted of Jewish farmers who were faced with difficulties in obtaining insurance for their properties, in part due to exorbitant rates they were charged when they took in boarders on their farms to subsidize their income. They grouped together to solve their problems and by doing so they began a specialty insurance company built upon a real need.
These same individuals soon found that obtaining a legitimate loan from a financial institution would not be easy. Local banks and loan companies seemed to place obstacles in their way and made the loan application process complicated and sometimes humiliating. The requirements were difficult to say the least. It was easier for many to go to a local “shylock” and pay excessive interest rates. In addition, property owners found that certain financial institutions, if they did agree to a loan, would not recognize insurance policies issued by cooperatives.
This group of men banded together to solve their common problem. In 1931 the membership started looking into the prospect of buying or organizing a bank. Fate intervened when in June of 1934, the passing of the Federal Credit Union Law, presented them with their answer. Through the efforts of Elmer Rosenberg, Mayer Arkin and Boris Fogelson, our Charter was granted in 1936 and these men were elected as the first President, Vice President and Treasurer, respectively. The members of the first Board of Directors were Benjamin Cosor, Julius Yellin, Louis Rosenblatt, Louis Pachanik, Harry Bedik, Jacob Richman, Charles Golembe, Harry Mermelstein, Morris Cohen, Abe Gibber, Emanuel Paul and Jacob Benenson.
Members of Credit Unions were required to have a common bond, in our case, membership in the Cooperative Fire Insurance Company. Since the Insurance Company originally only conducted business in the counties of Sullivan, Orange, Ulster, Delaware and Greene, this became part of the requirement for membership along with holding an insurance policy. Those requirements still exist today. Some time later we received approval to expand our field of membership to include employees of Associated Mutual Insurance Cooperative and small business employment groups.
In 2011 we celebrated 75 years of success. Over the years we have made in excess of $61,000,000 in loans. Of that amount, less than 0.2% has been charged off.
A tradition started many years ago, the Annual Meeting-Luncheon of the members, still continues today, but has been changed to a dinner. Held in May every year, it has been referred to as the start of the social season in Sullivan County. Our membership looks forward to gathering with their neighbors to review the business of the past year, elect the members to our board, and enjoy our success and longevity.