A credit union that's all in the family


(CBS News) "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" was the advice Polonius gave his son in William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" -- advice that has long been ignored by one modern-day American family. With Faith Salie we'll give credit where credit is due:

Omaha, Nebraska, home of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Omaha Steaks . . . and the world headquarters of America's only family credit union, otherwise known as Sue's house.

Sue Cain manages Our Family Social Credit Union from her tiny home office. In it, a computer with an unbreachable security system ("We're not hooked up to the Internet") and a couple of filing cabinets containing current loan recipients, such as the borrower who bought a camper and a new car.

Our Family Social Credit Union (or OFSCU as it's called by members) was started in 1950 by the descendents of Manley and Lucy Williams, and their spouses.

"You always hear this adage, 'Never loan money to friends and family,'" said Salie. "But it seems like your extended family has been kept close by money."

"Oh, you're absolutely right!" said Cain.

For a $5 deposit, plus a 25-cent handling fee, you become a member of Our Family Social Credit Union IF you are a direct descendant of Manley and Lucy Williams, or are married to one.

Today, OFSCU has 511 members in 22 states, and assets of about a half-million dollars.

"We're a pretty small meat-and-potatoes operation, and we'll probably stay that way," said Sue's cousin, Dave Cain.

A small operation that's made a HUGE difference in the lives of family members over the years, lending money when it's needed for a new car, a new baby, or college costs.

And just what is a credit union? And how is it different from a bank?

"Banks have shareholders, and they have to satisfy their shareholders; credit unions are not-for-profit organizations," said Peggy Powell, executive director of America's Credit Union Museum in Manchester, N.H.

"That does not mean that credit unions don't make a profit," continued Powell. "It means that their profits are returned to their members."

The nation's first credit union was founded in 1908 to help French-Canadian millworkers who weren't able to get bank loans. "Millworkers would come up the hill, come in the front door, sit on the benches in the receiving hall, and wait to do business," said Powell.

After that, the credit union movement took root across the country, helping men and women save and prosper.

Our Family Social Credit Union, Peggy Powell says, is not so different from that very first one. "It's a group of people combining their resources to help one another," she told Salie.

Back in Omaha, OFSCU is pretty much a volunteer operation. Dave Cain, who's chairman of the board, teaches sixth grade English. Chief loan officer Art Peters works construction.

And Sue Cain teaches middle school math, although she gets a small stipend as credit union manager. If you need a loan, you call Sue.

"I get to hear all the good things that happen when somebody gets married, whether there's going to be a brand-new baby," she said. "But you also hear all the rotten stuff. 'I just lost my job,' if somebody is ill, if somebody passes away."