DULUTH, Ga. -- A trick turned into a treat for Georgia Federal Credit Union's longest term board member Polly Christie Hinde.
"I was a second grade school teacher at Toney Elementary in DeKalb County when one of my friends Helen Anchors invited me to a meeting at another school," said Hinde. "Well the credit union founder Vernon Carne was a principal at that school and I didn't know it at the time but the 'meeting' was actually one of the credit union's first annual meetings. I won the top door prize of $5.00 and they told me great now I can join and become a member--and I did."
The credit union called DeKalb County Teachers Federal Credit Union was very small despite being the largest school system in Georgia at the time. Shortly after becoming a member another teacher friend Harold Smith, invited Hinde to serve on the Supervisory Committee and in 1964 she was asked to be a board member.
The rest as they say is history and Hinde continued to serve the credit union for over 43 years. She only recently retired from the board in March 2007.
"The time was right to make way for new members," said Hinde. "Georgia Federal Credit Union was formed from the DeKalb County Teachers Federal Credit Union so all of the board was from that school system until the mid-1980s when additional school systems were added. Now, we have representatives from Whitfield County, Newton County, the University of Georgia, so we're a little more diverse than the 'old days' and as more of us step down we'll see a greater change in the board."
Hinde adds that she's never felt that being a volunteer was a challenge and while the issues board members face today are a lot more complex than in the early days, she looks back on her 43 years of service with joy.
"I love the people we work with--the other board members, our managers and staff. We have an outstanding team and they are all good at what they do. Everyone gets along well and seems to like each other. I feel proud when I've attended conferences and hear that this is sometimes exceptional," said Hinde. "I can also say that as a board member I've never been afraid to ask questions which is so important."
To stay updated on the latest issues, the nine-member board relies on the GFCU management staff and Hinde says the access to staff and management ultimately has made all the difference.
"I feel fortunate that we have good relations with our CEO Warren Butler. We don't have any problems and there is always an open line of communication," said Hinde. "We have more access now to staff and management than we ever had in the past."
According to Hinde, that two-way communication that extends beyond just the monthly meetings has helped GFCU flourish and grow.
"I remember attending an Educational Credit Union Conference in the '70s where everyone was in an uproar about offering share drafts or not," said Hinde. "Well our credit union became one of the first to pilot share draft checking. For the credit union movement as a whole I just see them getting larger and implementing more changes to better serve their members. We've already seen so much change just while I've been involved that I can only imagine what the future has in store."
For GFCU, Hinde says one of its greatest accomplishments was the completion of the Georgia Credit Union Center building three years ago, which houses its corporate headquarters, as well as the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, Georgia Central Credit Union and CUNA Mutual.
"It is a testament to the cooperative nature of credit unions. Personally, I feel that I've made life-long friends at the credit union--they are like family to me," said Hinde.
GFCU is ranked as one of the top credit unions in Georgia with assets exceeding $400 million and 14 branch locations. GFCU serves employees and family members of over 365 select employee companies and school systems.
As far as what's ahead for Hinde you may spot her at the airport.
"I love to travel in my downtime. I started traveling in 1966 and have taken at least two trips a year--every year--since that time," said Hinde. "Some of my favorite trips are Ireland, Venice, Croatia, Russia, Alaska and the time we went on a buffalo roundup in the western U.S."