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United 1st Federal Credit Union’s Marian Sikes was presented a certificate by Dr. John Lairsey, Superintendent of the Charlton County School System at the Charlton County School Board’s last meeting. The certificate reads: "Georgia School Board Association (GSBA) Partnership Commendation Presented in 2012 to United 1st Federal Credit Union By the Charlton County Board of Education In recognition of their support of public education in the community and dedication to Georgia’s youth." The certificate is signed by Dr. Lairsey and Matthew P. Sands, Board Chairman.

Pat Conn, CEO of United 1st said, "We are dedicated to Georgia’s youth because we realize they are our future – not just the credit union’s future, but the county, state and country. Our Board of Directors wants us to give back to the communities we serve. We do that." Mrs. Sikes said, "This year we were asked to provide calendars for the schools to help reduce the cost to the School Board. We also provided a recycle bag for every employee of the school. We are in Bethune Elementary every Thursday accepting deposits from school children. Those are just examples of us helping the school system." Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, said, "We are encouraging people to help the local businesses by shopping locally. We are giving double Scorecard Rewards points when a person uses a United 1st credit or debit card as credit in Charlton, Camden, or Ware Counties. Sales tax is an important source of revenue for Charlton County and the State of Georgia."

The locally owned credit union is at 3792 Second Street South.


Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions and generally are better for consumers than other types of financial institutions. United 1st Federal Credit Union was chartered in 1943 to provide access to capital for those who did not have ready access to capital from other financial institutions. The Eastman Member Service Center opened in 1988 and has been helping our community ever since. They can be seen at Relay for Life and in the School Fairs and in the schools talking about money matters. They even have yard sales and bake sales to benefit folks in the community who are experiencing difficult times.

Every year, the ladies at United 1st exchange names and give a gift to the person whose name they drew. That will not happen this year. The ladies at United 1st decided they wanted to do something for those less fortunate this year. They contacted Mike Grenade at the Christian Life Center and asked how they could help others. He told them they could donate money to feed a family for Christmas. Ann Harrell and her crew of caring folks decided this is what they wanted to do, so they are giving over $200.00 to the Christian Life Center to be used to buy a Christmas meal for as many families as possible.

If you would like to help in this effort, contact Mike Grenade at 478-231-1134 or go by the United 1st Member Service Center on College Street to make a monetary donation. The ladies at United 1st Eastman wish you a very Merry Christmas!!!!


Credit Union Online (CU Online) will not be available for approximately FOUR HOURS starting at 11:45 p.m., Monday, November 5, 2012. This outage is to enhance the Multifactor Authentication feature.

United 1st Celebrates International Credit Union Day With a Bodacious Coloring Contest At Fifteen Elementary Schools:

International Credit Union Day is the day set aside to observe the contributions of credit unions to the economy of the world. The United Nations designated 2012 as the International Year of the Cooperative so this year was a special celebration for one of Georgia’s oldest member owned financial cooperatives.

United 1st had a coloring contest for students in the four counties where we are located. We provided the coloring sheets and awarded the prizes. Members of the elementary schools administered the contest and selected the winners. Each school had a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize, so a total of 45 prizes were distributed. 1st prize was a Kindle Reader, 2nd was an iPod Shuffle, and 3rd was a $25.00 gift card.

According to Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, “Our Vision as solidly supported by our Board of Directors states that we will continuously invest in the communities we serve and this is a great way of doing that. If we can get kids familiar with credit union early, we have a better opportunity of them becoming members.”



Over the weekend of 13 - 14 October, 2012, United 1st Federal Credit Union was well represented in two of the Communities we serve. St Marys celebrated Hay Days and Folkston celebrated the Okefenokee Festival.

At Hay Days, businesses erect figures stuffed with hay and featuring pumpkins to celebrate the onset of autumn. The Member Service Center in St Marys made a figure and did a little advertising as well. Knowing our auto rates are some of the lowest in the area, Manager Callie Kegley had the figure holding a sign urging people to refinance with United 1st. What better way to welcome autumn than lowering a person’s car payment?

At the Okefenokee Festival, Marian Sikes and her crew had a booth with a spinning wheel to award prizes to the people who stopped. The prizes ranged from United 1st zing rings to United 1st notepads. Marian, Ashley, Sherry, Shannon, and Brenda knew most of the people who stopped and let everyone take the spinning wheel for a spin. That also gave them a chance to explain the credit union difference as well as promote our great products.

All in all, United 1st displayed a very caring attitude for the communities we serve; something many financial institutions do not take the time to display.


In a ceremony Thursday, Ed Walker, Director of Business Development for the local credit union, said, “The Member Service Center is more impressive than ever. Of course, Howe Construction has done a super job on the renovation. Their practice of using local sub-contractors has really paid off with the remodeling being finished ahead of schedule. Tommy Cannon and his staff have really done a great job providing member service while the building was refurbished.”

Walker said, “We have over forty million dollars to lend to our members. We have lower fees, lower loan rates and higher rates on savings than banks. We are able to loan money based on character because our members are our owners. The advantages to the consumer of being a member of United 1st are tremendous.” Walker noted the presence of City and County officials and thanked them as well as the Director of the Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Deborah Lee, for her attendance. The President of the Chamber complimented the Credit Union on the building and said she was pleased with the professional appearance and that she knew Pierce County was growing and would use the facility to its fullest.

County and Credit Union officials joined in a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the front door. After the ribbon cutting, Howe Construction hosted a barbeque for all attendees. Hamburgers and hot dogs were enjoyed by all.

Pat Conn, CEO of United 1stsaid, “I opened this Member Service Center in 1988, right before I became CEO. It was opened to serve the people who worked at Gilman Building Products, Blackshear Sawmill, right down the road. Now, all residents of Pierce County and Ware County are eligible for membership. We are good at what we do and it shows. We were selected as the “Best Lender in Pierce County” this past year. That is a big reason we are growing.”


Sprint offers monthly discounts to credit union members. To maintain the integrity of the program, members must periodically provide documentation to verify their eligibility.

New customers are required to fill out a verification form within fourteen (14) days of activation. Current credit union customers are required to provide proof of discount eligibility (credit union membership) when upgrading their device if it has been 20+ months since activation.

For both new and existing Sprint customers to receive the Sprint Credit Union Member Discount, they must complete a verification form. To receive the discount, members must complete these important steps:

1 - Confirm discount eligibility by showing proof of their active status as:

  • a member
  • Credit union check
  • Unexpired credit union debit/credit card
  • Current statement of account issued within the last 60 days

2 - Accept discount program offer and required new two-year Agreement (for current customers only)

3 - To make this process easy, members can visit www.sprint.com/verify and select "fax or upload your verification". 

got "more better"!!!   

LIFE IS GOOD!!! (And it just got "more better"!!!!) 

If you have a credit card that is not a United 1st VISA credit card, shame on you. Our card is one of the best in the Nation and it just got better. "How?" you may ask. There is no balance transfer fee or annual fee and the interest rate is already real low. United 1st already awards Scorecard Rewards® points for all the qualifying purchases you make and you can get neat gifts that you wouldn’t buy for yourself otherwise. You can already manage your account online and from your phone. How can it get "more better"??

Here 'tis: We now have Single Sign On and it works really well and is so simple even our Marketing guy can do it. Sign in to EZCardInfo to check your balance or whatever. On the left hand side of the screen is a blue box and in the blue box, it has a link to ScoreCard right above the spot to Log Off. Click "ScoreCard" and "poof!" you are in your ScoreCard Rewards credit card account. Is that spiffy or what????

As I said, “Life is good and it just got "more better"!!!   


The United 1st Federal Credit Union Team in Camden County celebrated Independence Day in a big way at the St Marys 4th of July parade. The theme was "Happy Birthday, USA" and United 1st followed the theme in every aspect of the float. There was a birthday cake with presents and signs saying "Happy Birthday, USA". There were children with noise makers and even an Uncle Sam. Many of the United 1st employees brought their children to walk in the parade or ride on the float. The employees handed candy and fans to the spectators along the parade route. Four young ladies led the way carrying a United 1st banner in front of the tow vehicle. There were over forty people in the parade.

The float was designed and built by SheIla and JoNathan Cross, and Faith Brown. Assisting in the decoration of the float were Marci Henry, Laura Koch, Lori Mills and her family, and Beth and Lilly Davis.


Tommy Cannon and Angela Robison have been doing so great on lending money to our deserving members that we have been selected as the "Best Place to Borrow Money" in Blackshear. To celebrate, we have added a lender and another Member Service Representative and now we need more room for all these people. 

So we have taken out the flower bed by the back door and that will give us room for a couple of offices.  We will put the flower bed back in when we finish the renovation. The only real loss of outdoor space is one parking spot. And the inside of the building is going to look real nice. The projected finish time is mid-July, but that does depend on the weather.

Until it is finished, come in and visit Tommy, Angela, Abby (new lender), LaDonna (new Member Service Representative), Roz, Tammy, Ann, and Lori. They are still doing the same thing they have been doing – providing great service to our members.


Linda McGunigale of United 1st Federal Credit Union was honored at the St Marys Police Department Awards Ceremony for her “diligent efforts in the development and support of the financial fraud investigation which affected a large population of the citizens in this county.”

Linda is the person responsible for issuing United 1st credit and debit cards to our members. She also monitors activity on the cards to detect fraud. In this case, malware on the server of the merchant’s processor was charging things to cards and the cardholder was unaware of those charges. Linda spotted the fraudulent charges and notified the proper authorities, including the Secret Service. Because of her diligence and meticulous attention to detail she was able to help stop the fraudulent activity for all the card issuers, not just United 1st. Linda saved the members of United 1st Federal Credit Union over a half million dollars. She does not know how much she saved other cardholders who used the merchant.

The certificate concludes, “Your valuable assistance reflects great credit upon yourself, your efficiency, and your partnership with this city. Thank you for a job well done.”

Pat Conn, CEO of the local credit union said, “We at United 1st are very proud of Linda and all she does for the members we serve. This is just one example of her stellar performance over the years.” 


United 1st Federal Credit Union was honored as the best credit union in Georgia in the social responsibility area at the Annual Meeting of the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. United 1st won the prestigious Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award for the projects undertaken by the credit union that help individuals and/or strengthen the structure of a community.

United 1st was lauded for its continued involvement in the special events of the communities we serve. At one Member Service Center or another, United 1st is involved in Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, the Southeast Georgia Cancer Walk, United Way, Salvation Army, Fourth of July parade, Okefenokee Festival, a Day of Caring, Teen Maze, financial education events, golf tournaments for worthy causes, and the sponsorships of various school events. 

United 1st is the credit union that has sponsored the International Credit Union Day coloring contests in the elementary schools in the communities. United 1st is also the credit union that has initiated "mini-branches" in some elementary schools. The staff of United 1st has done “lunch and learn” for civic employees as well as other events to offer people the opportunity to ask financial questions.

Ed Walker, Director of Business Development for United 1st, said, "United 1st was started in 1943 by a group of St Marys Kraft Bag Employees because they felt they were neglected by the banking community and were not allowed ready access to the capital they needed. They wanted to improve their station in life, so they started a credit union. We are staying true to our roots by helping our members afford life.  We have Beacon loans for people with "colorful" credit histories. If you don’t believe it, come see us. We also offer Beacon checking for people who have been unsuccessful with a checking account. We want to be everyone’s Primary Financial Institution."


Every year, the United 1st Team in Folkston serves at the cancer survivors’ dinner in Folkston. It is held at the First Baptist Church and everyone that has had cancer as well as their caregivers is invited to a meal prepared by the Church. The event was sponsored by a local insurance agent and the team from United 1st was there to help in any way they could. It is a great opportunity for United 1st employees to show they care for the people of the community we serve. Additionally, many of the survivors are members of United 1st and have been for a number of years.

Another item of note: Five employees from Camden County made the journey to help the ladies from Folkston. In short, it was a complete team effort on the part of United 1st.


A verification of members’ accounts is being performed as of December 31, 2011. All members should receive a statement. If you do not receive your statement, please contact:

Credit Union Resources, Inc.
Financial and Technology Resources
P.O. Box 655147
Dallas, TX 75265-5147


Our Scorecard Rewards® has proven to be very popular with our members. Shopping has also proven to be very popular with our members. Many of our members have expressed a fondness for their hometown/county. We decided to combine the three together and give our members what they want while boosting the local economy.

Here’s the way it works: Go shopping in Camden, Charlton, Dodge, Pierce, or Ware counties; use your United 1st VISA credit or debit card (as a credit); receive double the points you would normally receive.

We are doing this to help our members get more points and to help the local merchants/stores. This is your chance to help yourself while helping others.

The promotion will terminate January 1, 2012. Get shopping!!!!

United 1st Appoints Stewart To Board Of Directors

United 1st Federal Credit Union appointed Dr. Mark Stewart to the Board of Directors. Dr. Stewart is the Director of Administrative Services of the Camden County School Board. He has served on the Supervisory Board of United 1st for over seven years.

Dr. Stewart and his wife, Susie, live in St Marys with their son. He is an active father and still finds time to enjoy a round of golf on occasion. Board President Terry Brown said, “We are very pleased to have Dr. Stewart join our Board of Directors. He knows the way credit unions work. Like all the Directors, he is a volunteer and will not receive any compensation for his service to our members. Credit unions are owned by the members they serve and members run the credit union through the Board of Directors. Dr. Stewart was appointed to insure we will have a quorum. He will be a candidate for election at our next annual meeting February 7, 2012, at the Camden County High School Cafeteria.”



Still a Great Deal For Consumers

Some financial institutions have announced they will be charging customers to use their debit card. United 1st will not be charging for debit card usage, according to Ed Walker, Director of Business Development for the locally owned financial institution. "We have seen the reports of others raising fees and adding charges and we are not doing so at this time. Our members want us to remain the low cost leader. That is why we lowered our loan rates. We want to better the financial condition of our members. Lower loan rates and less fees do that; especially in these trying economic times."


New Scam To Get Your $$$$$

Some of our members have received phone calls from a major retailer offering FREE gift cards to consumers as a "customer appreciation program". The caller then asks for the consumer's credit card information to pay for "shipping and handling". Needless to say the caller is really not from the major retailer and the member never receives anything other than a bill for the things the caller bought using the credit card information the member supplied. The scammers even use text messages. They have also asked for debit card information and used it. They buy airline tickets and vacations.


United 1st Recognized as "Best In Show" at St Marys Fourth of July Parade

It happened again!!!! United 1st Federal Credit Union, one of southeast Georgia's oldest locally owned financial institutions, was recognized by the judges of the floats in the Fourth of July parade as "Best In Show". This is the second time in three years United 1st has been chosen as the Best Float.

SheIla Cross, Decorator Extraordinaire, designed the float and supervised the hard work of putting it together. There were over thirty people involved in the parade with SheIla and all handed out candy and zing rings as they walked the parade route. As Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, said, "This is one of the ways we give back to our community. Credit unions are member-owned financial co-operatives and our members have indicated to us that they like our participation in these community events. We enjoy it, too. The tie-died shirts and shorts are not what we usually wear to see our members and it shows a different side of us.  Of course, we are always glad to be recognized for our efforts. SheIla did a great job."

Fraud Fighter Alert

Fraudulent transactions on debit and credit cards are making the news on a regular basis.  We have even had some fraudulent activity in our area. United 1st Federal Credit Union is committed to providing you with the most advanced fraud protection available.

Due to an increase in fraudulent card activity we may be calling you. If you suspect fraudulent activity on your account, call us immediately. The phone number for lost/stolen cards can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-800-472-3272.

If you are the victim of fraud, Visa offers zero liability on fraudulent activity. 


VolunteersSometimes my job is just the best in the world. Friday, April 29, was one of those times. I was invited to Eastman to help Ann Harrell and Cindy Singletary in the "Teen Maze" for Dodge County. This is where Middle and High School students are brought in and shown the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and indiscriminate sexual activity. They get cards that say they got pregnant/died/all kinds of things. They are asked to plan how to help themselves. They also drive a golf cart with those goggles that distort your vision like you were intoxicated. United 1st was the organization asked to provide financial/budgeting information for the students. Sheila Cross made some inserts about budgeting and the Eastman staff put them in folders. Ann and Cindy gave a folder to the kids as they came through. It was a very good exercise for the young people in Dodge County. Hopefully, they learned some things.

After that, I went to Waycross where Tommy Cannon and the Blackshear crew were involved in the Southeast Cancer Unit’s event to raise awareness and money for the cancer victims in Pierce, Ware, and Brantley Counties. United 1st had a raffle and sold barbecue, funnel cakes and sodas. They had already had a raffle for a Valentine’s basket and some other fund raisers. They raised over $2,700.00 and are still getting some more. They are hoping to get over the $3,000.00 mark. And all the money stays in those three counties.

I continued on down the road to Folkston where Marian Sikes and the folks at the Folkston Member Service Center were engaged in the Charlton County Relay For Life. This is the national event to raise awareness and money for cancer research, etc. Folkston's football team has been the State Champions in their class a few times and Charlton County is justifiably proud of their accomplishments so the Folkston Member Service Center decided to have a chair decorated with Charlton Indians decals. Dalton Signs in Kingsland did that for them and then decorated one for Camden County. Both chairs are really nice in addition to being comfortable. Folkston raised over $1,090.00 for Relay.

Seeing all these people volunteering to help their neighbors was touching but seeing cancer survivors hugging the volunteers and thanking them made the long day worthwhile. Camden’s Relay for Life starts Friday, May 6, 2011. Come on out and see the Wildcat chair that Dalton Signs did for us. The drawing is at 9:00 p.m. at the CCHS track.


The mascot of Bank of Eastman and the mascot of United 1st Federal Credit Union met at the Dodge Connection Family Day held at Dodge County Recreation Facility. The event was to publicize the many services available to families through the Dodge Connection.

The mascots were there to interest the younger members of the audience in starting the savings habit.  The United 1st mascot is Sammy Savasaurus. He makes appearances at special events to attract the attention of the younger set. The goal is to start children saving so they will use the skills they learn to manage their money wisely as they age.

A United 1st adult teller is at South Dodge Elementary every Tuesday supervising youth tellers as they help their schoolmates make deposits in their accounts. Another is at North Dodge every Wednesday doing the same thing. The youngsters are given a sticker for each deposit and after three deposits they receive a certificate for a treat from McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, or Michael's Deli. Cindy Singletary, Youth Programs Coordinator for the Eastman Branch of United 1st said, "The kids seem to really enjoy getting prizes for making deposits." 

If you are interested in your child participating in the Savasaurus Club, call or visit the Eastman Member Service Center at 854 College Street.


Fox News and others have reported on two scams that are being tried in various parts of the US. The one reported on Fox was called the "Grandparents Scam" and, some would say, was not as disgusting as the earthquake/tsunami scam. The "Grandparents Scam" works this way: Grandparents receive a call from someone claiming to be their grandchild who is "in jail in Canada/Mexico and needs bail money". The bail money is in the $3,000.00 range. The grandparents send money to the address and find out later that the grandchild has not been out of the state. These scammers will need to know a lot about the grandparents and their family.

The earthquake/tsunami does not require as much knowledge about the person being scammed. It works this way: You receive a call from a person saying they represent a charitable agency such as "The Japanese Tsunami Relief Fund" or some other unknown agency and they want you to send them a sum of money. They don’t want checks; they want money orders or gift cards, especially gift cards. They give an address to which to send the gift cards or money orders and thank you for your "donation to help the people of Japan in their time of need". Some have asked for credit/debit card information but most do not.

Be very careful to whom you give or send money. There are some people out there with no conscience. 



A group from Camden County’s oldest locally owned financial institution walked the Sidney Lanier Bridge to support Camden’s only hospital. About fifty employees of United 1st Federal Credit Union and family members, most of them attired in tie-dyed red, white, and blue tee shirts, met at the foot of the bridge along with over 2,000 others to test their mettle on the run/walk. They all survived and won second place in the Team Spirit Category. There were over fifty teams entered in the race/walk. For that finish they received a spiffy crystal trophy, a medal, and bragging rights. Team runners, led by Shelby Wymer, included David and Lori Mills and Kathryn Portwood. Walkers included the CEO of United 1st, Pat Conn. Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, said, “We support our local community and help our staff stay healthy by doing things with our families. Many of us will be out for Relay for Life in May and the Fourth of July Parade. We are also helping sponsor the Memorial Day festivities in St Marys. Those are just some ways we give back to our members.” 

Monies raised from the Bridge Walk are returned to the community to help in the fight against cancer in Southeast Georgia. Each race participant received a long sleeve tee shirt and a package of goodies from Southeast Georgia Health System 


Tuesday, February 8, 2011, marked the 67th annual meeting of the membership of United 1st Federal Credit Union. The meeting was held in the Camden County High School Auditorium and was very well attended.  This year there were TWO 46” TVs as well as gift cards, a blu-ray player, and a netbook. The TVs attracted the most attention, naturally. The first one was won by Ronald Walker and the second by Barbara Moore. Other prizes included a netbook computer won by Shirley Marr, a blu-ray player won by Ulysses Skipper, and a slew of gift cards.

One purpose of the Annual Meeting is to keep the members aware of the things United 1st has done over the past year and to alert them to changes/events approaching in the coming year. The major change in 2010 was the renovation of our Eastman Member Service Center. Possibly rewarding members who use more of our services is one of the things being considered for 2011. The Annual Meeting occurs in February because that is the anniversary month of our charter in 1943. We have elections at the meeting to fill any vacancies on the Board of Directors and we also distribute the Annual Report. This year, Terry Brown, Ginny Caldwell, and Gordon Phillips were reelected to the Board of Directors. Those are the reasons for United 1st holding the meeting. 

Members attend to win the prizes. Every year the prizes have gotten better and this year was no exception. The chance to win one of two TVs was enough to draw over 350 people to the meeting. According to Ed Walker, “More people attended this meeting than any since I have been here.”  Charlotte Poston, Director of Operations, agreed, stating, “The members really seem to enjoy the meetings and it is a great opportunity for the staff to mingle with the members on a less formal basis.” One member suggested having more TVs as prizes and less gift cards. Another suggested having thirty gift card prizes and one TV. What do you think? Let us know by sending an email to nlcomments@united1fcu.org.


We want your opinion again!!! We conducted a survey in October to find out how we were doing on member service. We are doing REALLY WELL at pleasing our members and that is where we are focused. Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey. Now, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates wants your opinion about the economy and how it is affecting your savings and purchasing decisions. Simply click here to complete this short survey now. The survey will be available through December 31, 2010. Your responses are completely anonymous. We appreciate your taking a few minutes to complete this survey.


United 1st hosted coloring contests for all fourteen of the elementary schools in the counties we serve. The contest was judged by the schools and winners were selected from each school. United 1st awarded prizes to the winners. First place received a DVD player while second place was awarded a $25.00 gift card and third place garnered a sling string bag and bank.
Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, said, "This is our time to give back to the community. We had refreshments for our members at the Member Service Centers on Thursday. We gave away some Jaguars tickets. In Camden County, we had a blood drive. All these things are ways we are involved in our communities. Our members have told us what they want us to do and we do it."



We called it a “Re-Opening”, but Ann Harrell and her team never closed so it wasn’t really a re-opening. What happened was United 1st bought sandwiches from “The Butcher Block” and sodas and water and a cake and invited everyone to look at our newly remodeled Member Service Center. To generate more interest, Ann suggested giving away some money - $200.00. We did and it worked.

By the end of the day, Friday, July 23, 2010, we had over 400 members come to visit. Terry Brown, our Board Vice-President, journeyed to Eastman with our CEO Pat Conn, Senior Loan Manager Chris Voss, Operations Manager Charlotte Poston, and Information Systems Manager Butch Ford. Kelly Bowen and Linda Lowery represented Dodge County while Bea Edge represented the City of Eastman along with City Councilmen Buddy Pittman and David Rawlins. Terry Brown, who was employed by the Gilman Bag Plant when the Member Service Center was first opened, thanked Ann Harrell for all her hard work over the years and indicated she was one of the main reasons United 1st had been so successful in Eastman.

A drawing was held after the Member Service Center closed and Barbara Fordham won the prize. Koozies, pens, and pads were given to all the attendees. Ed Walker, Marketing Manager, said, “It was a really nice ceremony. I hope everyone in Eastman comes by and looks at our new facility. It is really nice and a credit to our members. We have a special drive thru lane for trucks and SUVs.”

Members of the staff in Eastman include Christy Sowell, Leslie White, Cindy Singletary, Tracy Cooper, Carminta Edge, Sheila Jones, and Blake Carr.


Jessica Lynn Brown contributes once a year to United 1st Federal Credit Union’s CUPAC (Credit Union Political Action Committee) fund. United 1st asks its members to donate $1 per year to CUPAC to provide money to share the credit union message with political figures in Georgia and Washington, D.C. Each member has the option of authorizing a once a year deduction for up to $25.00. The credit union conducts a drawing of all the contributors and gives a prize to ONE LUCKY PERSON. Jessica Brown was that lucky person this year. She is shown accepting the Acer Netbook from United 1st St Marys Member Service Center Manager Callie Kegley. Jessica said, “I am sure I will enjoy using this. Thank you, United 1st. And it was painless!!!”


Did you ever fix a problem and have the fix create another problem? You have a problem with soil erosion and plant a plant that is fast-growing. The plant stops the erosion and then takes over the yard and starts to grow over your house – kudzu. The Senate Financial Reform Bill has an amendment called the Durbin Amendment which will hurt small financial institutions just like kudzu has hurt north Georgia.

When you swipe your debit card, a very small portion of the price goes to the issuer of the card. For that small portion, the issuer guarantees payment to the merchant. The merchant does not need to worry about bounced checks or offering credit. The issuer does. The issuer must bear the expense of administering the cards, replacing lost ones, collecting bad debts, fraud, etc. Merchants want their charges to go down. Durbin says it can go down for institutions over $10 billion in assets. Small banks and credit unions are excluded from the law. Sounds okay so far, doesn’t it?

The bill allows merchants to discriminate against credit union cards by offering discounts to cards from the big banks as a result of sweetheart deals. At United 1st, for example, the legislation will mean that interchange will cover only a small part of the cost of providing debit card services to our members. To make up the difference, we could be forced to either start charging fees on other services we would rather continue offering for free, or discontinue our debit program. That’s not what our members want. The same could occur at credit unions and community banks all across the country. An exemption in the amendment designed to protect credit unions and community banks from these effects was well intentioned but won’t work in reality.

One of our Senators, Saxby Chambliss, is on the conference committee to reconcile the Senate Bill and the House Bill before it goes to President Obama. Senator Chambliss has said he supports Durbin. That is a mistake that will have dire consequences for small financial institutions. Please call or email the Senator to tell him not to support this bill.

For more information on this issue you can follow this link:   http://www.georgiacreditunions.org/financial.php. You may use the following link to send an email or print and fax a letter to our representatives:  http://www.capwiz.com/gcua/issues/alert/?alertid=15070101&type=CO.

Please stop the kudzu before it starts. Do it NOW. Thanks 


Everyone knows the younger a person is when they start saving, the better off they are going to be.  Credit unions encourage young people to save all the time, but particularly during the third full week of April.

United 1st Federal Credit Union is giving a gift to every child that comes to their local member service center and makes a deposit during the week of April 19-24, 2010. According to Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, “We want our youngsters to be financially responsible with their parents’ money and theirs. If they will come in and make a deposit, we will give them a gift. The whole purpose is to encourage saving money. In this economy, it is a really good idea to be thrifty and that is what we want our younger members to do. They can even make $25.00, if they get someone who is not a member to join our credit union.”

According to Walker, many consumer finance shows are telling people to join a credit union because the loan rates are lower and the savings rates are higher. CNN, the Huffington Post, and other news outlets are touting credit unions as a good deal for consumers. “Many banks have experienced difficulty in this economic climate. Credit unions still have money to loan and want to do just that,” said Walker. “We have always made good loans to our members and they repay us.”

Credit unions are member owned financial cooperatives that are becoming the personal financial institution of choice of many Americans. There are over 90 million members of credit unions in the United States and that number is growing. United 1st has over 18,000 members, while there are close to 2 million Georgians that use credit unions. According to Walker, “We are in schools and want to start the savings habit as early as possible. We reward the young people for making deposits at school and, for this week, we are rewarding them for making a deposit at the branch.”

United 1st has a Member Service Center in St Marys on Osborne Road and in Kingsland on Gross Road, in Folkston on 2nd Street South, in Blackshear on Highway 84, and in Eastman on College Street.


The manager of United 1st Eastman Member Service Center showed the start of the newest addition to the drive thru lane of the Center on College Street. Ann Harrell pointed to the four steel posts at the end of the roofed section of the drive thru and said, “This will be for the trucks. Our members who drive trucks and SUVs will not need to get out of their vehicles to use our drive thru. Some of the trucks are tall and the driver is forced to open the door to reach the tube. This will make it so much easier for them. Our members have asked us to do this to make it more convenient. We will have this operational in the not-too-distant future.”

According to Ed Walker, Director of Business Development for the member-owned financial co-operative, the renovations to the Eastman Member Service Center should be completed by the end of July, 2010, and a grand re-opening will be held.  He said, “Ann and her crew are continuing the great member service through the construction and we still have the lowest rates on loans.  Really, nothing has changed, yet.  We will let you know when the drive thru is open.  You can follow our progress on Facebook.”


The United 1st Member Service Center on College Street is being renovated and expanded. Ann Harrell, the Manager of the Member Service Center, said, “We opened in this location in 1996 and we haven’t had an extensive renovation since. The number of members we serve has grown and we expect that to continue.  CNN, CBS, FOX, and other media outlets are telling people what I have known for years: Credit unions are good for consumers.” 

Ms. Harrell went on to say, “This project will move the front door to what is now the side of the building and it will expand our interior space to give us more room to help our members. Our focus is member service and we need more room to serve more members. Everyone in Dodge, Telfair, Wilcox, and Wheeler Counties are eligible for membership. Our low loan rates make us a very attractive option for consumers. That is why Suze Orman recommends credit unions.”

Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, said, “Howe Construction has done numerous renovations of credit unions and we expect them to make our Member Service Center in Eastman a showcase for our credit union. We are not anticipating any break in our member service and we hope to not inconvenience anyone too much. There will be some dust but Ann and her crew have pledged to continue the great member service that makes them so well liked. I know Eastman will be proud of the end result. We hope to have the Grand Re-opening in July.”

Ms. Harrell invites all of Eastman to visit and see the architect’s plans.


Fielding a team of almost thirty people to raise money for cancer programs at Southeast Georgia Regional Health System, United 1st Federal Credit Union displayed a level of support not commonly seen in fundraising activities. As Ed Walker, Director of Business Development for Camden County’s oldest locally owned financial institution, said, “We feel strongly about this cause and it showed. One of our co-workers had cancer and she was well known and loved by us. She retired and is in remission now and we miss her.”

The money raised by the Bridge Walk/Run goes to the Southeast Georgia Health System for patient services and stays in our area. That is very important to the walkers from United 1st. According to Walker, “We do our best to keep it local. Our focus is on the people we serve.  That is the residents of Camden, Charlton, Pierce, Dodge, Ware, Wilcox, Ben Hill, Wheeler, and Telfair Counties. As everyone knows, people get solicited all the time for all kinds of causes. We like to see the folks we help, if possible.”

The United 1st “We Care” team was lead by Shelly Wymer, who was the sole runner. Everyone else was a walker and enjoyed the morning outing. “The view from the top of the bridge was beautiful and the company was a hoot,” according to Walker.


United 1st Federal Credit Union rewarded the people who braved the winter weather to attend the annual meeting at Camden County High School auditorium. Every attendee was presented with a hand trowel and a hand rake to plant flower seeds which were also provided. There was a business meeting showing the accomplishments of 2009 and plans for 2010. Some of the 2009 accomplishments were the renovations of the Kingsland and Folkston Member Service Centers and the establishment of a Savasaurus Club at Bethune Elementary in Folkston. A major project for 2010 is the renovation of the Eastman Member Service Center.

According to Director of Business Development Ed Walker, this was the highest number of attendees at the Annual Meeting in a number of years. “We notified our membership through ads in the papers, on our website (www.united 1stfcu.org) and through our online banking service. The prizes were the best we have ever given and everyone wanted to win one.”

Peggy Dubose was the winner of the biggest prize, a 42 inch Vizio lcd HDTV. One of two laptop computers was won by Alex Popham and one by Linda Ridenour. Other members won a Garmin GPS, ten $25.00 gift cards, a portable DVD player, portable cd player, and an iPod Nano. There was over $2,500.00 worth of prizes and gifts. Mr. Walker said, “Credit unions are owned by the members and this is one way we can give back to them.”


We mourn the passing of Director Emeritus Terrell Porter, a great friend of the Credit Union. He joined our Credit Union in 1963 and was instrumental in the growth of what was then St Marys Kraft Employees Federal Credit Union. Mr. Porter worked in the Stores Department of Gilman Paper Mill until his retirement in the 80s. He was well-respected by all and carried that respect with humility. A quiet man by nature, his advice was sought by many. When he spoke, people listened. 

His appointment to various Credit Union Committees and election to the Board of Directors helped the Credit Union grow in Camden County. He was instrumental in opening the St Marys Branch outside the mill grounds in 1983. He also advocated the opening of Branches in Blackshear, Eastman, and Folkston. He was a strong supporter of our members. He wanted to give as much back to the member as possible without jeopardizing the security of United 1st

Mr. Porter was blessed with an uncommon amount of “common sense” and used it in his dealings with the membership of United 1st. While he was a good Christian man who treated others as he wanted to be treated, he expected others to use common sense in their financial matters. If a financial opportunity did not make sense, Mr. Porter expected others to see that and not participate in the opportunity. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” was an adage Mr. Porter used.

Terrell Porter will be missed by the membership, employees, and Board of United 1st Federal Credit Union.


Camden County’s oldest locally owned financial institution has a new Manager at its St Marys location at 2000 Osborne Road. Callie Kegley of St Marys has been promoted to manager after an extensive search.  Pat Conn, CEO, said, “We searched outside our organization and interviewed a number of candidates before finding the best fit right in St Marys. With her knowledge of our culture and systems, Callie will be an immediate contributor to our management team.” 

Callie is married to Steve Kegley, Jr., who works locally as a carpenter. They met at Valdosta State University before moving back to Callie’s home in Alabama, where both graduated from college. They came back to southeast Georgia because Callie’s parents moved from Alabama and Steve’s family relocated to St Marys from Waycross. Steve, Sr., is the Pastor of the First Baptist Church in St Marys. Steve, Jr., and Callie have two sons, Caleb and Shane. Caleb attends Mary Lee Clark and Shane is in pre-school. 

Mrs. Kegley has extensive financial experience, having worked as an assistant branch manager for AmSouth Bank in Alabama. Prior to her promotion, she was the trainer for United 1st, where she taught all aspects of being an employee with the credit union. Callie is known in United 1st as well as the community as a person who helps others and gets things done. “She has a “can do” attitude and she has proven she can work well with our members”, Conn said.   

Callie said, “I hope all my friends in Camden County, particularly in St Marys, will come by and visit. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.”


In a story aired December 29, 2009, Cable News Network (CNN), pointed out the differences between credit unions and banks and said that consumers should check out the possibility of joining a credit union for the higher interest rates on savings and the lower interest rates on loans. To watch the video clip, follow this link:  http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/business/2009/12/29/am.willis.credit.unions.cnn

For a print version, follow this link:  http://money.cnn.com/2009/12/29/pf/saving/credit_unions_vs_banks/ 


Once every two years, we verify all the accounts of every member. That means that all members should receive a statement, electronically or by snail mail. Having access to your e-statement is considered receiving a statement. When you receive your account statement, take the time to verify the accuracy of the statement against your records. If you find a mistake, contact Credit Union Resources, Inc., Financial and Technology Resources, P.O. Box 655147, Dallas, TX  75265-5147. If you have questions, contact your closest Member Service Center.  


Sherry Strickland, the Manager of the Member Service Center in Blackshear, is stepping down to be a fulltime Mom. After a wide-ranging search, Tommy Cannon was selected to replace Sherry. Tommy has an extensive background in finance. He is a graduate of Waycross College and Valdosta State University. He has worked with a local credit union. He also worked at another financial institution in Blackshear. Tommy and his wife, Carla, live in Waycross and have a daughter who attends Ware County Middle School in Waycross. They are active members of Jamestown Baptist Church. Tommy has many friends in the Waycross-Blackshear area and is looking forward to meeting and greeting new and old acquaintances.


The appearance of our online banking service will be changing November 2, 2009. This new version is SO SUPER it does everything but brush your teeth. Our IT guy is working on that application. 

CU Online will now be available to you on your cell phone if your cell is capable of accessing the internet. The mobile banking version is not as pretty as the computer version because of the limitations of the cell phone.

The new version of CU Online is super easy to use, too.  Some new features include local weather info, news links, and even an option for stock data. Once you log in to your account, you will be taken to a page that is different than the one we now use. The Multi-Factor Authentification (MFA) page looks different but does the same thing – keep unauthorized persons from accessing your account. If you are on a computer that is registered, the page will look similar to this:

If you are on a computer that is not registered, you will go to this page, which has changed:

From here, you will go to the Passmark screen, which has changed a bit:

Once you get completely logged in, you will enjoy the full features of the NEW CU Online:

As you can see, you can sign up for Mobile Banking, keep track of your Cards, Rewards, anything that has to do with your account. If you try these features, we are certain you will enjoy them. Butch Ford, our IT guru, has spent a lot of time getting this dramatic change done and he is proud of it. 

Let us know what you think by sending an email to NLComments@united1fcu.org


Your locally owned financial institution celebrated International Credit Union Day October 15 by having a coloring contest for all of the Elementary Schools in Camden, Charlton, Pierce, and Dodge Counties. They also had refreshments at the Member Service Centers for the members who visited. 
Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, said, “Credit unions were started in the mid-1800s in Europe to provide access to financial services for people who were denied those services by banks. We still do the same thing. Many of our members have had negative life experiences and been denied credit by other institutions. We try to help them if we can see a way to do so.” Walker went on, “There are over 90 million credit union members in the United States, and over 185 million members worldwide. In Georgia, there are 1.4 million members and United 1st has about 20,000 members. Members, not stockholders are the owners of a credit union. Because of this, we don’t need to make a profit for stockholders, and we can offer lower rates on loans and credit cards and higher rates on deposits.”
Pat Conn, CEO, said, “Traditionally, credit unions have offered basic “bare bones” accounts. Advances in technology have made it possible for us to offer all the services of our for-profit competition and, in some cases, more services. As an example, November 2 we will be one of the first financial institutions in southeast Georgia to offer mobile banking. Our members want that service and we are responsive to them.” 

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The crew from the St Marys Member Service Center made a scarecrow and placed him in the center of the median in historic downtown St Marys. People came from all over to see him so you know the United 1st crew did a good job. You don’t suppose the fact there were over 25 other scarecrows had anything to do with it, do you? 
There was candy and other goodies given away and everyone seemed to have a great time.
The survey is anonymous.  Please be candid about your answers to the questions.  It will help us correct any problems we might have and it will also help us to identify which services are wanted by our members.



We are always looking to improve our services to our members.  We have contracted with a survey firm to call you and ask what you think of our member service and other questions along that line.  One of the questions is about what new products/services you want us to offer the membership.
If you receive a phone call from someone who says they are calling on behalf of United 1st, please be nice to them and answer their questions.  They WILL NOT ask for any account information or passwords or PINs.  If someone calls and asks for any of that type of information, they are not calling on behalf of United 1st.  If you can, get a phone number and report them to the authorities.
The survey is anonymous.  Please be candid about your answers to the questions.  It will help us correct any problems we might have and it will also help us to identify which services are wanted by our members.



Marian Sikes, Manager of the United 1st Federal Credit Union Member Service Center in Folkston, announced that United 1st accepted the first deposit at Bethune Elementary Wednesday, September 16, 2009. Ms. Sikes said, "Parents can open an account for their child at Bethune or at the Member Service Center on Second Street. To open an account for the child, the parent needs to give us a copy of their driver’s license or government ID and complete an account application. The child can then make a deposit at either place." 
United 1st Federal Credit Union is one of the oldest locally owned financial institutions in southeast Georgia.  It was started in 1943 by the employees of St Marys Kraft and became Gilman Paper Employees Federal Credit Union in 1979. Many residents of Charlton County became members of the credit union through their association with Gilman. In the late '90s, membership was opened to all residents of Charlton County as well as other counties in our corner of Georgia. The Credit Union offers a full range of financial services to its membership, according to Ms. Sikes. She said, "We offer checking and savings accounts as well as loans, mortgages, and VISA credit and debit cards. Our focus is always on helping our members. That is why we are partnering with Bethune; to get people started in the savings habit early."

Ms. Sikes emphasized that the credit union is encouraging the children to save on a regular basis. "We will accept small deposits from the kids. We just want them to deposit regularly. Whether it is every week or every other week, we want them to get in the savings habit. We are encouraging saving by giving them incentives for regular deposits. Plus they can set goals and start saving for things they want. This is a win-win-win for the child, the school, and United 1st."



United 1st Federal Credit Union volunteers went to four different job sites in Camden County September 10 and worked to make Camden a better place for people to live and work. The “Day of Caring” was sponsored by United Way and coordinated by Alan NeSmith of the Tribune-Georgian. Some volunteers from United 1st went to Angel Food Ministries where they distributed flyers. Some volunteers went to the Salvation Army Store where they sorted and arranged the clothes and other goods. Some went to Camden House where they sorted books and food. Another group went to the Habitat for Humanity job site where they built a fence and a ramp for wheelchair access.

The rest of United 1st Camden County stayed behind in the Member Service Centers and Admin/Operations Building to provide the service to the members for which we are famous. Pat Conn, CEO, said, “I was very impressed with the number of volunteers (15) and the team spirit shown by all of us in Camden County. I know we made a positive impact on Camden by what we did. I also know that our members still received the same great member service they deserve even though many of our key players were volunteering. The ones left behind deserve thanks as well.” 

Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, said, “It is really nice to work with a group of people who care about others and are willing to go the extra step to help their fellow man. I think we really helped the community. Thanks to Alan NeSmith and United Way for giving us the opportunity.”



United 1st Federal Credit Union has won the first place award for Georgia in the Alphonse Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award Program. The program, sponsored by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates and the Credit Union National Association recognizes credit unions for their involvement and participation in programs and activities that educate young people in budgeting, saving, and the responsible use of credit.

United 1st was commended for its commitment to financial literacy in schools – from elementary school to high school. United 1st has “Savasaurus Programs” in St Marys, Mamie Lou Gross, Woodbine, Bethune, North Dodge and South Dodge Elementary Schools as well as St Marys Middle School. A teller is in Pierce County High School to take deposits on a regular basis. Presentations were made to elementary, middle and high school classes about budgeting, saving, loans, and credit scores. United 1st representatives have also spoken to other groups about various financial topics. 

Pat Conn, CEO of United 1st, said, “We are committed to educating the membership and potential membership about how to handle money. We feel an educated consumer will choose credit unions over other financial institutions. Educated consumers want to get the most 'bang for their buck' and credit unions provide that. We are proud of our staff and their accomplishments. This is a very prestigious award and we worked hard to earn it.”

Ed Walker, Director of Business Development, said, “This award is for everybody at United 1st. Some act as tellers, some as lenders, some as managers - it really doesn’t matter.  We are all trying to do the same thing and that is to help our members get better off financially. This award recognizes our efforts. Our Board of Directors is very supportive of what we do in education. The teachers with whom we work in the different school systems make what we do easier.  Rachel Baldwin, Lynda Duchscherer, Melinda Brown, Dr. Lu Cain, and June Maxwell in Camden County; Jan Dixon in Pierce County; and, Scarlett Driggers and Jodi Brewer in Dodge County have helped a lot in the schools.”

Walker continued, “We are very proud of our accomplishments and appreciative of the recognition we have received. Wouldn’t it be great if we were the Desjardins Award winner for the Nation?” 

 That winner will be announced in February, 2010. The award is named for one of the founders of the first credit unions in Canada and the United States. Alphonse Desjardins was an advocate of youth savings clubs and in school “banks”.

Good Words!

Rachel Baldwin
Rachel Baldwin speaks on how United 1st FCU has helped students gain more financial knowledge and increased the financial literacy of the community.


We did it!!  Laura Koch of United 1st Marketing Department put together a great float design for the Fourth of July parade in St Marys and the team from United 1st built the float Saturday morning in the parking lot of Dimensional Stone Fabricators and drove it over to the parade starting point. Dimensional Stone was nice enough to let us store balloons and firecrackers in their air conditioned offices. You see, if the balloons had been outside they would have exploded because of the heat/expansion. We lost no balloons because they were air conditioned. Thank you, Dimensional Stone!!!!

The theme was patriotism, of course. And we were PATRIOTIC with a capital P. The blue balloons were tied next to the red balloons which were next to the white balloons. All were tied to some arches on the float.  On the edge of the float was a rail that was covered in red, white, and blue floral sheeting with blue garland on top of blue fringe. We also had a United 1st banner on the back of the float with some more floral sheeting and balloons. 

Our CEO, Pat Conn, drove the nicely-outfitted white Armada. It had tasteful signs advertising our offerings; FREE e-statements, bill pay. Our VISA Card, our website, like that.  We had many participants in the parade giving "zingrings" and candy to the throngs of children and adults who were in attendance. Our participants included: Charlotte Poston, Laura Koch, Marian Sikes, Jannette Velazquez, Katie O'Brien, Carmelita Bradford, Nikki Edwards, Cori White, Sheila Cross, Faith Brown, Linda McGunigale, Shannon Sasser, Kelsey Mitchell, and Ed Walker. We had a lot of young members riding the float - family members. And, of course, we had our staff photographer taking a lot of pictures.

Because of the beauty of the float and the enthusiasm of the participants, United 1st Federal Credit Union was named BEST IN SHOW and received a handsome trophy to hold for a year and a plaque to keep forever. We done good.



Everyone agrees these are troubling economic times. Many people are cutting back on what they spend and most everyone is trying to put something away for a rainy day. A lot of people can already hear the thunder of an approaching storm. Many are taking preventive measures by paying down or paying off debt.  Which debt should be the first one you eliminate? Should it be the one with the highest interest rate or the one with the largest payment? There is no one answer for everyone. 

United 1st Federal Credit Union wants to help people set some money aside. We have added a new program to our website, which can help a consumer decide which debt should be paid first. The program is called “Debt In Focus” and is available to everyone, regardless of whether that person is a credit union member or not. The program is completely anonymous and no one has access to your personal information.

The program works this way: After you get to the home page, click on the ad that says “Debt In Focus”.  That will take you to another website and there you will enter your income and debts. They put a reference number in the upper right hand corner and that is your number when you return to the debt in focus website. The website was developed by financial experts to evaluate debts and determine the impact of paying one before the other. Try it. It is totally free and the recommendations are insightful and helpful. 

Sometimes Things Work Better Than Planned: United 1st is very involved in the schools in Camden, Charlton, Dodge, and Pierce Counties.  There are Member Service Centers in Elementary Schools in Dodge and Camden Counties and a Member Service Center in St Marys Middle School in Camden County.  United 1st employees address classes in Pierce and Camden County and contribute money to all the schools in all the counties.  Our credit union does these things to give back to our members and our communities.  Phone calls and emails thank us for our efforts and complimentary letters from administrators and teachers are received.

Prizes were donated to South Dodge Elementary School for their “Family Fun Festival”.  Check out this letter from one of the attendees.

Wildcats are Winners: United 1st has always been a big supporter of education and sports. We are proud sponsors of the football games in Dodge, Pierce, Ware, Charlton, and Camden Counties.  We do other things for other sports and other extracurricular activities from band to drama. We work diligently to be fair about the expenditure of money and have sponsored activities for business classes and vocational classes. When Charlton County won their Georgia State Championships, we were the ones to step up and purchase a sign commemorating that fact. The sign hangs proudly in the entrance of Charlton County High School.

Camden County High School won the Georgia State High School Class AAAAA State Championship in 2003 and a sign was erected at the entrance to the school and another at the entrance to the football field. When the Wildcats won a second championship in 2008, United 1st wanted to improve on the previous sign and so did Coach Jeff Herron. 

Director of Business Development Ed Walker contacted Dalton Signs and talked to Kara Lindsey who designed a Wildcat worthy sign that included both championships. The sign was “dedicated” by Coach Herron, CEO Pat Conn and Dalton Signs’ Lynne Anderson Wednesday, April 29, 2009. If you get the chance, go look.

United 1st Awarded Plaque for CUPAC Contributions: At the recent Annual Meeting of the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates in Savannah, GA, United 1st Federal Credit Union was presented with a plaque commemorating the contributions made to the Georgia Credit Union Political Action Committee (CUPAC).  United 1st members contribute by authorizing an automatic deduction for a dollar or two from their account.  That mounts up to a bit of money when all the members do it.   So, why does a credit union need a political action committee?
One credit union doesn’t need a political action committee.  The Georgia Credit Union Affiliates which is the name of the organization that most of the credit unions in Georgia are a member of needs a voice in Atlanta and Washington, D.C.  Increasing the insurance on members’ funds to $250,000.00 per account is one of the things the political action committee worked on in the past year.  The voice in DC makes certain credit unions are considered in the making of laws that affect credit unions and their members.

Terry Brown, the Vice President of the Board of Directors of United 1st Federal Credit Union is pictured between Mike Mercer (left), who is the President and CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates and Warren Butler, the Chairman of the Board of Georgia Credit Union League.


Credit Cards go Platinum: United 1st is upgrading our Classic credit cards with a Platinum option. If you receive a Platinum card, please activate it and begin using it as soon as possible. Your Classic card will be closed after you receive your Platinum card. The Platinum upgrade will not affect your term, rate, or fees. If you have any questions, please contact us at 1-888-484-8328 or by email: services@united1fcu.org.

United 1st Appreciates Our Teachers: United 1st Federal Credit Union is celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week in a big way. Each teacher in Camden, Charlton, Pierce, Dodge, Ware, Bleckley, Ben Hill, Wilcox, Wheeler, and Telfair Counties, even if they are not members of United 1st received a card from the credit union. When the teacher takes the card to the closest Member Service Center they will receive a patriotic, ecologically-friendly shopping bag.

Pictured is Camden County Teacher of the Year Mark Lang, United 1st Youth Programs Coordinator Laura Koch, Camden County School Superintendent Dr. Will Hardin, Mamie Lou Gross student Ryan O’Steen and Mamie Lou Gross teacher Melinda Brown. Laura also serves as the “head teller” for the Mamie Lou Gross Member Service Center where Ryan is one of four tellers. Dr. Darlene Bruce is the principal of Mamie Lou Gross and Melinda Brown is the teacher liaison for the junior savers.

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New Look in Kingsland Member Service Center: ATTENTION CAMDEN AND CHARLTON COUNTIES!!!! Kim Mitchell and her team at the Kingsland Member Service Center have been busy repainting, refurbishing, and remodeling their Member Service Center. They are still giving the same great service they have in the past and now their Member Service Center is more reflective of their high performance. The Kingsland Member Service Center has extended hours until 6 p.m. on Friday and from 8 a.m. until noon on Saturdays. You need to go in and see it. 

There is now a member service kiosk where Michelle can assist you in opening accounts, getting a loan application, opening an IRA, or whatever help you need. There is a nice area where you can complete the deposit slips and endorse checks or write a check to get some cash. There are some chairs where you can sit and complete forms before you talk to one of the lenders, Kim Mitchell and Perri Woodard.

Of course, our loan rates are still among the lowest in the region – not just in Camden, but in Charlton, Pierce, Ware, and Dodge counties as well. Kim said it was worth the drive from Eastman to see her “new” Service Center. I don’t know. You decide.

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CEO Gets Way Younger: Every year we have the young people who serve as tellers at our elementary school branches come to the closest Member Service Center and see how the “real world” of credit unions works. Each year they get to hold a bunch of money and get to see the money counter in action. Sometimes the ones in Camden County have the opportunity to visit the Admin/Ops building and see the “back office” of United 1st

When the youngsters visit the Admin/Ops Center they all want to meet “the Boss”. Our boss is Pat Conn. He goes by the title of Chief Executive Officer and he has the “corner office”, which is the biggest one in the building. He is a nice guy and really likes kids.  He even lets them sit in his chair to see if it fits. The young fellow in the chair is practicing to be the Chief Executive Officer of United 1st Federal Credit Union. Notice how he is wearing a blue shirt and the tall kid in back of him is wearing the same color shirt?  Evidently, that is a requirement to be the CEO – you need to wear a blue shirt.

The kids had fun and so did the staff.

ATM Usage: In February of last year, CU24 reached a deal with Allpoint Financial to allow CU24 users to use Allpoint Financial ATMs. CU24 provided the service to their member credit unions for free for one year. The “free” year is over. We have received the first bill from CU24 and we cannot justify continuing the service. The surcharge-free use of Allpoint Financial ATMs will be discontinued effective April 30, 2009. We regret the inconvenience but the cost is just too much for us to absorb.

What is the “workaround”? As always, there is no charge for using the ATMs at the Member Service Centers and no charge for using any other ATM in the CU24 Network. Just log in to the CU24 site and search for ATMs. The ones from Allpoint are no longer surcharge-free. All the others are. 

Thank you for understanding this business decision. 

Better Security To Protect Your Assets: United 1st is changing the way you set your password to increase the security of your account. If you have had CU Online for over 90 days and had the same password for over 90 days, you will be asked to change your password the next time you log in to your account. The reason: Many passwords are easy to figure out because they are short or they are the name of your pet or your telephone number or something else easy for you to remember. That makes it easy for a crook to figure out and use to get in to your account. While we have not had that happen yet, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as Ben Franklin said. 

When you log in to your account, you will be asked to change your password. The instructions are right there and you should be able to do it with very little problem. If you have trouble, contact the Call Center or your local Member Service Center by calling your local number or 1-888-484-8328. 

From Left: Ed Walker, Congressman Jack Kingston, and CEO Pat Conn

Part of the Solution: In these troubling economic times, a lot of people are looking for help. Over 4,200 credit union representatives went to Washington, D. C., the last week of February to tell the members of the House of Representatives and Senators that credit unions nationwide could be a source of help for many. United 1st Chief Executive Officer, Pat Conn, and Director of Business Development, Ed Walker were two of the people who told the Georgia Congressional Delegation how credit unions could be a part of the solution. 

Most Georgia credit unions have money to lend at attractive rates. The reason:  Credit Union members are better than average savers. Credit unions lend the money to other members for cars, homes, home improvements/remodels, vacations, whatever. Credit unions are owned by their members and typically will have a lower loan interest rate than other financial institutions. That makes credit unions a good deal for everyone. While many members of Congress are also members of credit unions, a friendly reminder of what credit unions do is appropriate at this point. As Pat Conn said to Congressman Jack Kingston, “We want to be part of the solution to this financial crisis. We have money we want to loan to people so they can buy cars or fix up houses or whatever. We can help restart America’s economy.”   

Web Site Redesigned

As you probably noticed, our web site has been redesigned. We believe we have made it more appealing, especially to the younger generation – those between the ages of 18 and 34. Laura Koch of Business Development was the person who headed up the redesign effort.  She spent many long hours communicating with the web site managers with the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) in Atlanta.  Cameron Carswell and Nadine Ferere were her points of contact with GCUA. They started with a clean slate and completely redesigned the site, relying on their experience and preferences to arrive at this finished product.

How did we do? Please take the time to let us know what we did that appeals to you and what we did that does not appeal to you. Send an email to nlcomments@united1fcu.org and let us know what you think. We will have a drawing of all the people from whom we receive emails and the winner will have $50.00 deposited in his/her account. The drawing will be Friday, March 6, 2009.

December 10, 2008

Subject: Important Information Regarding Your United 1st Federal Credit Union Bill Pay Service

We take great care to keep your personal information secure. As part of these ongoing efforts, we are notifying you that the computer you use for online bill payment may be infected with malicious software that puts the security of your computer’s contents at risk. This letter will help you determine if your computer is actually infected and advise you how to fix the problem and protect yourself against future risk. The malicious software affects some but not all members who accessed online bill payment on Tuesday, December 2, 2008. For a limited period of time, some members were redirected from the authentic bill payment service to another site that may have installed malicious software. Your computer may be infected if all of the following are true:

• You attempted to access online bill payment between 12:30 a.m. and 10:10 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, December 2, 2008, and
• You were using a computer with the Windows operating system, and
• You reached a blank screen rather than the usual bill payment screen when you attempted to navigate to online bill payment, and
• After reaching the blank screen, your computer’s virus protection program did not tell you via pop-up or other messaging that malicious software was detected and quarantined.
If all four of the conditions above are true, your computer may be infected and you should take the following actions:
• From the computer that was used to access online bill payment Tuesday, December 2, please go to http://us.mcafee.com/root/campaign.asp?cid=53348 and follow onscreen instructions to install McAfee® VirusScan® Plus software.
• You will need to enter a validation code at the website to access this service. This code is valid through December 31, 2008, and may be obtained by contacting United 1st FCU.
• After you install the software, launch the McAfee® VirusScan® Plus application and run a full system scan.
• Reboot your computer after running the system scan.
• After you have removed any malicious software from your computer, please go to our online banking site to reset your online banking ID/password. You may also wish to take this step for all other password-protected sites you access through this computer.
• You may also wish to accept our offer of a complimentary two-year subscription to Deluxe ID Theft Block Plus credit monitoring service so that you may monitor your credit report for unauthorized new accounts or changes to existing accounts. You may activate this service at http://www.deluxe-idtheftblock.com/secure.
• You will need to enter a validation code at the website to access this service. This code is valid through December 31, 2008, by contacting United 1st FCU.

United 1st Federal Credit Union values your business and your trust, and we apologize for any inconvenience this recent incident has caused.

Patrick T. Conn CEO

Ridenour Retires 

On May 31, 2008, Becky Ridenour retired after a fifty year career with United 1st Federal Credit Union. “Miss Becky”, as she was known to her co-workers and the members she served, decided to retire and relax. Becky started working for United 1st when the oldest locally owned financial institution was known as St Marys Kraft Employees Federal Credit Union and primarily served the employees of the bag plant. The credit union did not disburse cash. They issued checks when lending money and the members took them to a local bank. 

As times changed, Becky and the credit union changed with them. The credit union became Gilman Paper Employees Federal Credit Union in 1979. Becky and the credit union moved from the shadow of the paper mill to a new, modern location at the corner of Osborne and Dandy Streets. They instituted checking accounts and started dispensing cash. 

In 1982, the membership was expanded to include other employee groups and the name was changed again to Gilman United Federal Credit Union. After adding Branches in Blackshear and Eastman in 1988, Pat Conn became the Chief Executive Officer. VISA cards were offered to the membership in 1988. In 1996, the Kingsland Member Service Center was opened and the Folkston and Wal-Mart Branches were opened in 2001 as the name was changed for the final time to United 1st Federal Credit Union. 

Through the location and name changes; through the growth of the membership; through the growth of the assets and loans; through it all, Becky kept one thing at the forefront:  MEMBER SERVICE. Becky has always been noted for her service to the members of the Credit Union.  When Becky started at United 1st, people would stand in line to talk with her. As she moved through the positions to loan officer, payroll, human resources, IRA Coordinator, and executive administrative assistant, members and employees could always depend on her.  When they wanted/needed something, they spoke to Becky. And Becky responded. She helped people. 

Becky was active in the community of St Marys as it grew and included the sailors from Kings Bay. She was well-known for her willingness to help others.  Miss Becky’s presence at United 1st will be missed. It is a good thing she will be close enough to come visit once in a while.

Becky was honored at the staff Christmas Party at Osprey Cove, where she was presented with a water color print of St Marys by Glenda Gillette. The print was framed by Gray’s Gallery of St Marys. Miss Becky was also given a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol. The flag was accompanied by a letter and a certificate signed by Representative Jack Kingston.    

United 1st Certified As REAL Deal Credit Union  

Credit unions are member-owned financial cooperatives that were originated to allow people of “modest means” access to monetary products and services that had only been available to people with a higher income. Credit unions have traditionally been very “service oriented” and are well-liked by their member-owners. In fact, one of the slogans of credit unions is “Not for profit, not for charity, but for service.” 

To recognize credit unions in the state that serve people of modest and moderate means, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA), the trade association for credit unions in Georgia, has established a program called “The REAL Deal” and is certifying individual credit unions that embody the principals on which credit unions were founded. United 1st Federal Credit Union was recently certified as the REAL Deal. REAL is an acronym for Relevant, Effective, Asset accumulating Members, Loyalty. United 1st was cited for its community involvement and efforts to “reach out” to the communities it serves from Eastman to St Marys. 

Ed Walker, Director of Business Development for United 1st, accepted the certification at a ceremony in Hilton Head, SC, recently. He said, “We try diligently to help our members accomplish their financial goals.  It is very nice of the Affiliates to commend us for our efforts.” Some of the programs that were mentioned in the presentation were Financial Literacy in the High Schools (Camden and Pierce); establishing savings programs for youth (St Marys, Mamie Lou Gross, and Woodbine Elementary Schools in Camden County and South and North Dodge Elementary Schools in Dodge County); working with the American Cancer Society in Camden and Charlton Counties; and, the Teacher Appreciation Program for all the counties served by United 1st.

Pat Conn, United 1st CEO and past Chairman of the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, said, “It is always nice to be recognized for the contributions you make. It is even better when it is your peers who are recognizing you.” 

CU Pay is HERE!!!!

The oldest locally owned financial institution in Southeast Georgia has a brand new 21st Century product for use by the membership of United 1st Federal Credit Union. CU Pay is the credit union’s electronic bill pay program. It is the latest in a long line of innovative programs offered to the membership of United 1st.

The service has been integrated into the Credit Union’s online banking program, CU Online. CU Online offers 24 hour access to your account through internet usage. CU Online has proven to be a very secure way to make loan payments, Visa payments, and transfer funds to other accounts within the credit union. With CU Pay, a member now has the ability to pay bills to people and companies outside the credit union. For example, most people have a water bill, power bill, phone bill, and cable or satellite bill. These can now be paid by CU Pay with a few clicks of the mouse.  

Here is how the new service will work. As a member, you log into CU Online from the homepage www.united1stfcu.org. Once you satisfy the multi-factor authentication screens, one of the buttons on the left side of the “Welcome to Personal Finance” screen is CU Pay. Once you click on that button, you will be able to enroll in CU Pay by Check Free. Once the enrollment process is complete, you can start paying your bills electronically. Most businesses, utilities, and municipalities accept electronic payments. You will begin receiving e-statements instead of paper statements. There will be little or no paper to bother you.

Enjoy your e-experience. If you have questions, give us a call.

United 1st Honored By Pierce County High School’s Work-Based Learning Program As

Ms. Jan Dixon, as the Work-based Learning Coordinator for Pierce County High School, announced at the Annual Employer Appreciation Luncheon Thursday, April 17, 2008, the selection of United 1st as the “Business of the Year” for school year 2007-2008. Ms. Sherry Strickland, Manager of the Blackshear Member Service Center, and Ms. Rosalind Inman, an employee of the credit union, accepted the award. 

Ms. Dixon cited the Credit Union for their numerous guest speakers who spoke to business classes.  The speakers talked about credit, savings, credit cards, and debit cards, as well as how to conduct oneself in job interviews. They also discussed the importance of credit scores and how the scores are used by lenders and employers. Speakers included Ms. Strickland, Ms. Jeanne Bovair, Director of Human Resources for United 1st, and Ed Walker, Director of Business Development for United 1st.

Ms. Inman of United 1st also opened a “High School Member Service Center” at PCHS and served as the teller at the high school every Tuesday. All students and teachers were able to open accounts and make deposits. Ms. Inman was the primary teller and also supervised the high school student, Suzanne Doggett, who worked part time during the school year at the Member Service Center on Highway 84. 

Ms. Dixon also mentioned the credit union’s participation in the financial literacy program held at the high school auditorium Monday, April 21, 2008. The speakers at the seminar were Ed Walker and Sherry Strickland. The staff of the Blackshear Member Service Center was on hand to answer questions and assist as needed. The credit union provided an iPod as a prize for a drawing to increase attendance. The purpose of the seminar was to increase awareness of financial matters for parents and students. It was very well attended. Sebastian Martin won the iPod.

Pat Conn, CEO of United 1st said, “We really appreciate this recognition of the efforts of the Blackshear Member Service Center Team. It is always good to be recognized for what you do and, as the credit union of choice for a lot of the education professionals in this area, recognition by a school is really special. We thank the Business Department of Pierce County High School for the plaque and the opportunity to help educate the students in financial matters.”    

Georgia Credit Unions

© 2009 United 1st Federal Credit Union. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized attempts to access, upload information, or deface this website is strictly prohibited and are subject to prosecution
under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and Title 18 U.S.C Sec. 1001 and 1030.