Help us preserve our history by sharing your memory from the credit union's early days!
During this time of remembrance of Donald K. Rhine, Reliant's founder and first CEO, we would like to collect memories of the credit union's early days. By sharing your photos and memories, you will honor Mr. Rhine's contributions and help us to preserve the history of our great credit union.
To share a memory, click here.
If you would like to submit a photo of Mr. Rhine, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From its humble beginnings in a classroom in Sodus, New York, to the nine-branch, 39,000+ member organization it has become, Reliant has always been committed to serving our members.
The Start of Something Great!
Reliant Community Federal Credit Union was established in 1970 as WCTA Federal Credit Union, serving teachers in Wayne County. At that time, the mood of the banking system was not necessarily favorable to teachers and school employees. Teachers, who worked ten months of the year, might need to take out loans in the summer months to tide them over until the first paycheck of the new school year, but because they were viewed as part-time employees, some banks were reluctant to meet their lending needs.
In the 1969-1970 school year, the Wayne County Teachers Association Board, headed by Board President Donald K. Rhine, actively discussed the possibility of establishing a credit union. After extended discussions, it was determined that the schools in Wayne County would come together to form a credit union that would be of benefit to Wayne County Teachers Association teachers and other employees in Wayne County schools. Choosing the teachers association as its namesake, WCTA filed an application with the National Credit Union Administration for a Charter in June of 1970, and the original charter for WCTA Federal Credit Union was received in August of 1970.
In the beginning, each school within Wayne County had a representative who would attend monthly meetings, and who was also responsible for collecting deposits and signing up members at his or her respective school. Essentially, WCTA was kept running by a dedicated group of 15-20 volunteers. It is because of this group of individuals that Donald K. Rhine, the credit union’s first President & CEO, said, “I never doubted that the credit union would be successful. ” WCTA offered only two products at first: 6.0% share accounts and 12.0% loans! In the early days, a loan as small as $100 was not uncommon, and many loans that were made were under $1,000.
The objectives from the beginning were to provide our members with better rates and services in a personal, professional, and friendly manner. The members’ needs came first, “even if it meant sending them to the competition,” says Gail Bedell, Reliant’s President & CEO from 1994 to 2007. From the beginning, the “people helping people” philosophy of the credit union was the backbone of our organization. According to Mr. Rhine, “We literally reached out and touched members to help them with their financial needs.”
The credit union grew steadily over the years, first expanding into some Ontario County school districts. In 1998, the Credit Union Membership Access Act was signed into law, giving credit unions the ability to serve members outside of their original charters. This allowed WCTA to serve employees of area businesses and members of community organizations within Wayne and Ontario counties. In 2004, WCTA Federal Credit Union adopted a community charter, making us a community credit union that serves residents in Wayne, Ontario, and Monroe counties. In 2007, we made the decision to change our name to Reliant Community Credit Union to reflect our expanded membership base.
Throughout the years, the way that we serve and help people has evolved, but our core values and the “people helping people” philosophy of the credit union remain constant in all that we do.
Thinking back upon the credit union’s beginnings, its growth and evolution, Ms. Bedell says, “Just look at all we offer members today! And it started with 6% shares, 12% loans and the dreams of a handful of concerned teachers.”
Many thanks to Donald K. Rhine and Gail F. Bedell for their contributions to this history.