“People helping people”. “One person saves so another may borrow”. These adages have exemplified the foundation of Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union and its heritage since it was founded. In actuality, Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union is in existence, today, largely because of the many individuals, past and present, volunteer and paid, that have been committed to ensuring that the credit union would achieve and sustain financial prosperity, in order to benefit and serve the citizens of Genesee County and surrounding areas. TVFCU, as it is known today, is the result of a collection of credit union mergers that all had roots in the Genesee County region.
Initially called the Genesee County Teachers Federal Credit Union, the credit union’s membership was strictly a school based credit union. Its membership was comprised of employees from 16 area school districts and their families – Attica, Alexander, Batavia, BOCES, Byron Bergen, Elba, GCC, Leroy, NYSSB, Oakfield, Pavilion, Pembroke, Perry, Wyoming, Alden, and State Education Dept. “Once a member, always a member” allowed the credit union to maintain even retired and relocated employees. Allowing family members to join promoted membership growth which in turn, allowed the credit union to prosper and increase financial services to its members.
Remarkably, one of the founding treasurers of the Genesee County Teachers Federal Credit Union was acutely instrumental in the development of Batavia Federal Credit Union as well. This individual is Richard G. Shirey who is said to have operated the GCTFCU out of his own living room! This was really not an uncommon scenario, however, in the credit union world. Many fledgling credit unions share similar heritages when recalling their early years. From this residential setting, the credit union and the early manager, Beverly Johnson, moved several times. From rented spaces in the BOCES Center on Harvester Avenue to an office in Masse Mall, the credit union finally purchased its own building on West Main Street in 1982. This decision was prompted by the Board of Directors’ desire to offer share draft accounts to its members which necessitated a more secure environment for cash transactions. In addition to changing locations, the credit union, also, underwent a name change and became Education Employees Federal Credit Union in the early 1980’s.
In 1975, Batavia Federal Credit Union was chartered a community credit union. This credit union began as a Council of Churches project in an effort to provide basic financial services to people with minimal financial means. An early benefactor and major supporter of Batavia Federal Credit Union was P. W. Minor & Son, Inc. The company had offered payroll deduction to its employees and was resolute that the credit union should survive to maintain the financial relationships enjoyed by their employees.
BFCU had the opportunity to add local employee groups such as Genesee Memorial Hospital, Chapin Manufacturing, Genesee County employees and City of Batavia Employees. Three smaller credit unions, Yale Federal, Doehler Jarvis and Wyoming County Federal, were merged into Batavia FCU contributing early growth.
By 1986, both credit unions were faced with different challenges. EEFCU had reached its membership potential and BFCU lacked the resources to offer additional services to remain competitive. Combining the two credit unions was a logical solution that would be advantageous for both memberships. In 1987, the two credit unions officially merged, under the leadership of Susan J. Blanchard, CEO. A contest was held among the members to determine a new name. Submitted by Delbert Hegge, the winning entry yielded the name Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union.
Upon Susan's retirement in 2013, Kristine B. Duran was named CEO. Today, TVFCU has nearly 14,000 members and over $75,000,000 in assets. TVFCU offers savings accounts, share draft accounts, share certificates and club accounts. Payroll deduction is still a primary source of deposit as it was from its inception. Members have the opportunity to borrow from a wide variety of loan products. TVFCU’s loan portfolio includes consumer loans: car loans, personal loans, debt consolidation loans, share secured loans, boat, RV, tractor loans, motorcycle loans and paycheck plus loans. The loan portfolio also consists of: 1st mortgages, 2nd mortgages, home equity loans & lines of credit and home improvement loans. Services at the credit union include: Debit MasterCards, Gold MasterCards, ATM, Home Banking, free on-line Billpay and most are provided at no or low fees which is a fact that TVFCU often likes to boast about.
This glimpse of the history of TVFCU would not be complete or accurate without mentioning some of the pioneers that have played key roles in its legacy. The current Board of Directors is as follows: Travis Minor, Leslie Strollo, Norman Reimer, Julie Yunker, Carolyn Pratt, Jennifer Condame, Julie Mellon, Gregg Torrey and Sonja Gonyea. Our Advisory Board members are: Kevin Andrews, Gary Graber and Megan Boring.
Although the list of former Board Members that follows is lengthy, TVFCU considers this a true testament of the efforts of many who worked tirelessly to ensure that the credit union movement would survive in Batavia. The list includes:
Blanche Barqay, Shawn Barone, Thomas Bartz, Sidney Bender, Harold Blanke, Kenner Bond, Robert Burey, Dean Burt, Nancy Bush, Roger Cade, Vincent Cali, L. Casale, Marge Cervone, Alice Chapel, Robert Cheesman, Robert Cohoon, Barbara Coughlin, Richard Couture, Annette Cox, Nancy Curtis, Joseph Dermody, Don Derk, Georgia Doyle,Gerald Drosendahl, Leo Dumke, Carlos Duprat, Mary Eick, Patrick Elmore, Ann Falco, Nicholas Falco, Emily Franclemont, Gerald Foster, Monica Gibbons, Rev. Clyde Glandon, Robert Goodsell, Deanna Grefrath, Roy Griswold, Elaine Gurrant, Charles Hackenberry, Judy Hale, Beth Hildebrant, Arthur Hillis, Joyce Hinshaw, Robert Hodgins, Verna Howe, Christopher Hoy, Gerald Hugaboon, Wolcott Hinchey, Lucille James, Caroll Johnson, Paul Joslin, Carolyn Katz, George Kelsen, Richard Landwehrle, Everett Larrabee, R. Laylar, Bruce McDaniel, Kathy McDonald, Joseph Mangefrida, Al Mariani, Frances Mooney, Mayme Morelli, David Morrow, D.Michael Murray, Ugo Nanni, M. Paris, Wellington Pierson, Peggy Polk, Sylvia Polk, Dr. Fred Powell, Ted Quimby, Elaine Reiss, Suzanne Ricci, Donald Roach, George Rudman, Charles Ruffino, Vernon Rupert, John Sackett, Craig Sager, James Sando, Vincent Sando, Domenic Sapienza, Alexander Schogoloff, David Shaw, Johnna Shaw, Missy Shaw, Stanley Slivinski, Naomi Slusser, Gerald Smith, Roy Stehle, Carl Stephens, Richard Stone, Theodore Surowka, Keith Taylor, Robert Taylor, Doris True, John VonHold, Mary Yunker, Philip Green, Rachel Millspaugh, Chris Kuehl, Donna Morrill, Ed Levinstein and Jocelyn Sikorski.
Reading the history of TVFCU would be incomplete without defining the credit union philosophy and how that sets us apart from other financial institutions. A credit union is a financial coop whereby the members of the cooperative are the actual owners of the credit union and its assets. As such, the gains and losses of each credit union are shared equally by its members and not distributed to a group of stockholders who hold no connection to the credit union.
From our mission statement: “TVFCU is a community financial cooperative committed to providing quality and moderately priced financial services to the people of our community. Our mission is to promote thrift and provide a source of borrowing for provident and productive purposes; thereby helping our members understand and achieve their personal financial goals. We must also ensure that our organization is financially, ethically, and morally strong to endure for all times.”