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Business & Economy

Self-Reliance and Great Asparagus: Credit Union Celebrates 30 Years Of Service

Joanne Abel
Leoneda Inge

Durham-based Self Help Credit Union is celebrating 30 years of community and financial service.

Self Help Credit Union officially opened for business in 1984 and has earned a reputation for serving the underserved.

Joanne Abel and her partner were the first to secure a home loan.  Abel remembers her home on Driver Street in East Durham, like it was yesterday.

“It was a double lot and it had the biggest white lilac bush I had ever seen in Durham before or since," said Abel.  "And I had the best asparagus bed I had ever had was on that lot.”

Abel is pleasantly surprised by how much the credit union has grown.

“I’m surprised by how big it’s gotten.  I always thought it would be in Durham and now it’s all over the state now. It’s wonderful to be in Asheville or Greensboro and see a Self Help Credit Union building," said Abel.

Today, Self Help Credit Union serves more than 100,000 families in North Carolina, California and Chicago.

Ken Kalaher chairs the Self Help Credit Union board.  He says he’s glad they were able to help during the economic downturn when several credit unions were forced to close.

“Instead of pushing those people out on the street, we merged those credit unions, brought them in to give them better services, more projects, better interest rates and less fees to help those people out," said Kalaher.  "Otherwise they would have to go out and find banks and probably have to pay more money.”

One of Self Help’s newest credit union branches is in downtown Durham, following the merger with the historically African American, Generations Credit Union.

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