For a long time it was felt that there should be a financial institution catering to the needs of the Sikh community, Sikh Heritage Foundation of New York under the coordination of Dr. Gureharan Singh had organized a workshop during the fall of 1987. Similar workshop was repeated in May 1988 at the Glen Rock Gurudwara Sahib in New Jersey, and this workshop was coordinated by, S. Daljit Singh Jawa.
Prominent Sikh persons from many states had participated in both the workshops where issues related to the current and future State of affairs were discussed and Suggestions were made for appropriate actions. At both the workshops strong desires were expressed to have a financial institution that would serve the monetary needs of the community. S. Jasbir Singh Sethi from Huston was instrumental in providing the necessary lead for the establishment of a credit union.
With the encouragement from many friends and a strong support from the community, efforts were started to have a credit union, and thus a first step in having a financial institution for the Sikh community.
With Wahegurv’s Blessing, His Grace, and dedicated efforts of few individuals, we have been successful in obtaining a federal charter for the “Sikh Federal Credit Union” Therefore, now we have our first financial institution to serve the Sikh community in the USA.
A federal credit union is a cooperative nonprofit financial institution organized to provide its members with a place to save and a source of loans at reasonable rates. It is a corporation chartered under the Federal Credit Union to serve groups having a common bond of occupation or association, or groups within a well-defined community. It belongs to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a federal agency (such as FDIC) and functions almost like a bank.
Credit Union offers many services, such as:
*Savings: Credit Unions help people to meet their financial goals. Share or pass book accounts are basic saving accounts where your money earns money. Credit Union checking accounts that pay interest are called share drafts. They are similar to the interest bearing checking accounts available elsewhere, but they usually have low or no service fees or minimum balances and that means more money in your pocket.
*Payroll Deposit: Members can have their paycheck, social security checks and many other types of regular payments sent directly to their credit union account, Direct deposit is a great convenience, *Payroll Deductions: Credit Union offers members the opportunity of having loan payments and savings deposits regularly from their paychecks.
*Personal Loan/Business Loan: Credit Union will give loan when you might not qualify at other financial institution. Only members can borrow from the credit union. Interest rates are usually lower than those offered by other lenders.
*Certificate: Credit Union offers savings certificates at or better market interest rate.
*Other services: Such as Credit Cards, Money Orders, Travelers Cheques, Home Equity Loans, Home Mortgage Loans, Life Savings Insurance, Market Savings Accounts, Loan Protection Insurance etc.,
*Each account is federally insured up to the maximum of $100,000.00.
Three committees of volunteers manage the affairs of a credit union.
- Board Of Directors: The board of directors has responsibility directing and controlling the affairs of the credit union and providing effective and efficient management of the credit union’s operations. To carry out its responsibilities, the board sets realistic policies that are carefully designed to enable the credit union to function in a way that best serves the interest and needs of the membership.
- Credit Committee: The credit committee has responsibility for the processing of loan and credit requests and has the authority to appoint one or more loan officers for the processing of loan applications. Credit Committee may reject a loan application and the member then may appeal to the board for reconsideration.
- Supervisory Committee: The supervisory committee is an essential part of the credit union’s management. This committee may appoint public accountant and other qualified persons to perform work under its supervision. This committee makes sure that the credit union operates satisfactorily.
Current plans are that the Sikh Federal Credit Union will start functioning on a limited basis on or around Vaisakh day next month. There is still a lot of work needs to be done before actual operations could begin. Extensive efforts are underway to meet the ambitious target of starting business next month or as soon as possible. The credit union will operate from two gurdwaras:
*Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Glen Rock New Jersey.
*Garden State Sikh Association, Bridgewater, New Jersey.
For a successful operation and existence for a credit union, it is essential that community and other organizations (gurdwaras) provided necessary support. However, it must operate as an independent body with its own management team. The Sikh Federal Credit Union plans to do just that, and hopefully in the very near future it will have a conveniently located business office to serve its members.
Once the operations are stream lined other Gurdwaras and Sikh associations may join the credit union. Contacts have already been made with the community leaders from the other areas in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Since it is a federally chartered credit union, we will be able to have branch offices across state boundaries. The only condition will be that the community needs must support the existence and Operation of such an office. It is hoped that within one year this credit union will establish itself on & sound footing. It will earn the respect and confidence of the community, and be ready to serve the needs and meet the aspirations of its members.