Self-Help Shares

Lifting Up Black Educators, Spotlighting Outrageous Interest Rates + More

By staff
  | Feb 18, 2021

It was an eventful and inspiring week here at Self-Help:

The Story of a Credit Union that Began in a Basement

Just over a year ago, Self-Help was honored to merge with First Legacy Community Credit Union in Charlotte. First Legacy was originally School Workers Federal Credit Union, started in 1941 by school principal Jefferson E. Grigsby in the basement of his home. The credit union operated out of that basement for decades, providing a safe place for Black teachers and other school employees to build savings during a highly segregated time in the South.

Home of J.E. and Purry Grigsby

The Grigsby home, where a Black-owned credit union started, still stands on St. Paul Street in Charlotte.

That basement credit union ultimately grew to be the largest Black-owned credit union in North Carolina, drawing more than 10,000 members and building $50 million in assets. Watch the story, told by people who remember.

Also, in case you missed it, last month we released the story of Firestone Credit Union in Wilson, NC—the first credit union Self-Help merged with. This merger was transformational in many ways, helping to continue affordable, locally based financial services in Wilson while also helping Self-Help expand services for all members. 

Wilson legacy video 

James Smith of Wilson, NC -- former Firestone worker and loyal credit union member -- is among those interviewed in our legacy video, "Roll and Shift: Firestone Credit Union."

In other news:

Outrageous interest rates: Our affiliate, the Center for Responsible Lending, issued a major new analysis of payday lending interest rates nationwide. The report, featured on CNBC “Make It,” shows that in some states interest rates on a $300 payday loans are as high as 600%. The report includes an interactive map that shows typical interest rates in each state. North Carolina is one of the few states with adequate protections against debt-trap payday loans, but more than 20 states are in the “red zone,” meaning debt-trap payday lending is given free rein.

 CRL typical payday interest rates map


New branch coming in Jacksonville: Construction of a new branch in Jacksonville, Florida will be completed soon. This will be one of six Self-Help branches in Florida, including those in Apopka and DeLand. The branches in Jacksonville operate as Jax Metro, a Division of Self-Help Credit Union. We're looking forward to a spring opening of this new branch located in the River City community, pictured below.

 River City branch under construction

Self-Help leader recognized for vaccination work: Recently the Charlotte Observer published an article highlighting how EMTs are providing urgently needed vaccinations in Orange County, NC.  Self-Help’s John Herrera, who is featured in the article, has several quotes, including this:

“I think it’s crucial that the Health Department [and] policy makers understand it does make a difference in a pandemic to have bilingual, bi-cultural health providers who can explain to folks in their own language, people who look like them, because that helps build trust and understanding.”

John Herrera EMT - Charlotte Observer

John Herrera--EMT, firefighter and Self-Help leader, administers a vaccine. Charlotte Observer photo by Kristin Prelipp.

John, who also serves as a volunteer firefighter, is Senior Vice President of Latino/Hispanic Affairs at Self-Help. 

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