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Houston Breakthrough, February 1979
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Houston Breakthrough, February 1979 - Page 11. February 1979. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 7, 2019. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6029/show/6008.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(February 1979). Houston Breakthrough, February 1979 - Page 11. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6029/show/6008

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, February 1979 - Page 11, February 1979, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 7, 2019, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6029/show/6008.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, February 1979
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date February 1979
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 11
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
File Name femin_201109_547ak.jpg
Transcript HAFFCU officers (I to r): Joyce Cragg (treasurer); Susan Bishop (office manager); Laura Oren (founder); and J. E. McNeil (president) meet in the new credit union offices. "We got a running start on the 90 days," she says. The credit union had a fund-raising event, and McNeil spoke to an organization every week about HAFFCU, trying to drum up support. Offices were moved to rent-free space in Cragg's antique store and HAFFCU became more diligent about collections. McNeil also asked Congressman Bob Eckhardt, her former employer, for help. She convinced him of the credit union's intentions to run a successful business and he wrote "one of the best political push letters I've ever read," McNeil says. Eckhardt's letter pointed out HAFFCU's improvement and the need for NCUA to set clearer goals for HAFFCU. The credit union had had problems with NCUA from the beginning. "Because some of the other feminist credit unions had run into difficulties with the NCUA, they thought all feminists were lunatics," McNeil recalls. HAFFCU's proposed membership base and its early policy of automatically granting loans for abortions also upset the regulating agency, Cragg says. NCUA had also requested a membership roster of each feminist group participating in HAFFCU, another unusual request, Cragg adds. But Oren's brainchild did receive a charter from NCUA and opened in October 1975, with $20,000 in deposits. "We had a grand opening," Oren recalls. "The Stand Up Sisters Feminist Theater Group performed. It was a really wonderful evening. Within two weeks we had $30,000 in deposits. We had a very auspicious start, but a tremendous amount of work was involved." The ground work had been done by six women who answered an ad Oren had placed in the January 1975 issue of Broadside, the Houston Area NOW newsletter. Oren was new to Houston and wanted to become involved in the women's movement. A friend's experience with a feminist credit union in New Haven, Connecticutt, gave her a similar idea for Houston. She placed the ad asking for other interested women. Oren says the founding members were from diverse backgrounds and had varying economic views. One was a Goldwater supporter and another a socialist, but "most of us were somewhere in the middle." Meryl Leatherman was in sales; Kathy Whitmire, an accountant; Donna Lessar, in construction; Elaine Tatar, a lawyer. The women began visiting women's organizations seeking pledges from thier members to make depositis if HAFFCU were formed. They agreed not to make a move unless pledges exceeded $20,000. Although the first years of business were difficult, HAFFCU had its successes which helped it over the bumps. "One of the very first loans was delightful," Oren recalls. "A single woman who worked as a temporary nurse was seeking a loan to tide her through a pregnancy. She had tried other lending institutions which turned her down. HAFFCU made the loan which the woman paid back after her baby was born and she returned to work. "She wrote to us saying that when her child got old enough to understand how the women's movement had helped his birth, she hoped the child would not understand, because by that point there would no longer be a need for the women's movement." HAFFCU has also helped several minority men and women establish credit which they were unable to obtain at other institutions because of discrimination. HAFFCU is also one of the oldest "umbrella" organizations of feminists in Houston. It draws members from 20 affiliating feminist groups. Together with Women in Action and the Houston YWCA, HAFFCU has formed the Credit Coalition. This is a volunteer speaker's bureau to help institutions, organizations and individual women identify, discuss and solve credit problems. As part of its credit education goal, the coalition will hold credit workshops throughout the community during the coming months. According to McNeil, HAFFCU's money goes to help women and support the feminist community, not to a corporation or a financial giant. "HAFFCU is showing that women are a viable market," McNeil says. "We are also able to apply peer pressure to other lending institutions in making credit available to women. We do not feel it is coincidental that in the past two years, all the banks in town have named women as vice presidents." HAFFCU's future looks brighter. Deposits are now over $100,000. Delinquent loans are down 13%, according to Cragg, and the credit union has moved out of her antique store to new offices at 4600 Main Street. Funding from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) has enabled HAFFCU to add three full-time employees to its staff. City Controller Kathy Whitmire, one of HAFFCU's founders, wrote the grant proposal which had formerly been denied three times, McNeil says. In the fall of 1978, HAFFCU made money for the first time and was able to pay a small dividend to its members. Donations from an organization, Friends of HAFFCU, made the dividend possible, Cragg says. HAFFCU hopes to be able to issue and pay for their own dividend by June, 1979. "We can't offer a decent dividend yet," Oren says, "so it is hard to get new members. If all the people who are waiting for us to make a dividend would contribute, we could afford to make one." HAFFCU would like to increase its membership potential by allowing more groups to affiliate, but NCUA guidelines will not permit new groups to affiliate with HAFFCU until its current membership base is saturated, McNeil says. HAFFCU now has 737 members from a potential of 2,000 in the affiliated groups. Any individual who wishes to deposit money in HA FFCU must belong to one of the affiliated groups. Three vacancies on the HAFFCU board will be filled at its annual meeting in late February, Cragg says. Two positions on the credit committee will also be filled. Cragg is hopeful that members will attend the meeting and fill the vacant slots. "Any member is eligible," she says. "We need new blood." With a transfusion of "new blood" and more members, HAFFCU may continue to climb out of its crisis and broaden its service to the Houston feminist community. February, 1979 11 Houston Breakthrough