Whidbey effort to create new credit union meets first objective

A campaign to form a federal credit union on Whidbey Island has cleared its first hurdle, organizers said this week.

Beverly Rose of Freeland and Duke LeBaron of Bayview said backers have collected more than the necessary 250 survey forms indicating interest that are required to get the project off the ground.

Rose said the next step is to gather a group of organizing subscribers “indicating to the National Credit Union Association chartering agency that they are willing to commit time and effort to start the credit union.”

“These people often become the credit union’s first board of directors,” Rose added.

She said the goal is to complete a charter application by June 30, and to “cut the ribbon and open the doors” by Sept. 30.

Rose and LeBaron envision a members-run nonprofit credit union by islanders, for islanders — a place that keeps high finance local and creates wealth for the community.

They envision a Whidbey Island Community Federal Credit Union, a cooperative financial institution for residents of the entire island that would be locally owned and controlled by the people who use it.

Rose said that credit unions exist for service, not profit, and so are typically able to offer better rates on loans and a better return on savings than for-profit banks and savings-and-loans.

LeBaron said the credit union would start small; a $10 deposit would get you in and give you a vote, and initial loans would be capped at $5,000.

There are nearly 11,000 state and federal credit unions in the United States. The Whidbey credit union would be affiliated with the Northwest Credit Union Association.

Rose said nearly all the work on the credit union during the first three years would be done by volunteers.

Rose had 30 years of banking experience before launching her own business in promotional products in 1991.

In the 1970s, she single-handedly started a women-only credit union in Chicago, Ill.

For more information or to get involved on the ground floor, call LeBaron at 321-7489 or Rose at 331-1110, or e-mail bubbybev@whidbey.com.