KEYS CREDIT UNION, WHICH STARTED FROM A CIGAR BOX 80 YEARS AGO, NOW HAS SIX OFFICES
Truly, the origin story of the Federal Credit Union Keys could only have happened in the Florida Keys. The financial institution was started over 80 years ago in Key West by a group of public service workers raising $ 110 in a cigar box.
Its mission – and also its slogan “locals helping locals” – has been such a success that Keys FCU is now opening its sixth branch, in Tavernier. The location has been open since April 15 at the Tavernier Towne Center next to Winn Dixie.
“We love the relationships we are able to build with our clients,” said Desiree Perez, Director of Member Services. “They are like a family.” Perez has worked for Keys FCU since August 2008.
In the late 1930s, civil servants came to Key West to reopen military bases and update infrastructure. At the time, there was only one bank, and that was only for business accounts. So on October 26, 1940, nine public service employees pooled their money to create NavSta Federal Employee Federal Credit Union.
Eventually the name was changed to Keys Federal Credit Union, and now it serves over 14,000 clients in six locations: two in Key West, one in Stock Island, one in Big Pine Key, one in Marathon and one in Tavernier.
Keys FCU offers online and mobile banking, free person-to-person payments, and financial management apps. “We do everything from personal loans and credit cards to auto loans, RV loans, motorcycle loans and mortgages,” Perez said. “And if we don’t do it, we try to find a way to do it.”
Perez’s favorite memory to help clients in times of need was after Hurricane Irma. “Our Big Pine Key branch was flooded and many members lost their vehicles,” Perez recalls. “Our IT department gave me a laptop to help members get car loans because they couldn’t get to Marathon or Key West. I sat on the porch of the bank with the laptop. We installed extension cords on the laptop until early December when we were able to open the branch. “
Keys FCU now has a mobile branch in the form of a large motorhome in case there is another storm like Hurricane Irma. “So we can go where we need it,” Perez said. The vehicle has an ATM, two ATMs and a customer service desk.
The new Keys FCU branch is located at 91200 Overseas Hwy, Suite 15, to the right of Winn Dixie in the shopping center, Tavernier Towne Plaza. More information on 305-294-6622 or keysfcu.org.