Betty Chamberlin celebrates 50 years of service with Members 1st Credit Union

BRATTLEBORO — This year marks an important milestone for Betty Chamberlin of Vernon. She has worked and/or volunteered for Members 1st Credit Union for 50 years.

The credit union was originally founded in 1957 for the employees of The Book Press. Chamberlin was the first paid employee of the credit union in 1972. She worked for many years, as the CEO (including serving one year with no pay).

“I remember starting in the Book Press Building and working out of a small office,” Chamberlin said in a news release. “I could hold out both arms and hit both walls.“

The company later constructed a larger credit union office for its members, who at first were all employees of The Book Press.

“After a few years, we moved to an office in the lower level of the current King's Electric building.,” she said. That was around the time that the credit union changed its name to the Graphic Communications Credit Union and expanded membership to employees of other printing businesses in the Brattleboro area.

When The Book Press closed in the mid-1990s, membership eligibility was expanded to include all residents of Windham, Windsor, Bennington, and Rutland counties in Vermont; Sullivan and Cheshire counties in New Hampshire; Franklin County in Massachusetts, and the credit union was renamed Members 1st.

Not long afterward, when the corner lot on Browne Court became available, Chamberlin said the Board “purchased it and had the current building constructed. After a few years, we decided to add a two-story addition on the east side.”

After retiring from the credit union, Chamberlin continued to serve on the Members 1st Board of Directors in several positions as well as volunteering in the Vermont Credit Union Association.

She says she has seen many changes in financial regulations, practices, and policies. However, her friends and colleagues say one thing hasn't changed, and that has been her dedication to helping the member/owners of the credit union in any way she could.

Ted Wunsch, a past president, remembers that “Betty never wanted your credit score to be a deciding factor toward getting a loan.”

David Cotton, the current chairman, said he appreciates that “Betty always discussed financial issues with me in straight forward easy to understand language.”

Outside the credit union, Chamberlin has a long volunteer history in southern Vermont, especially in the town of Vernon where she has worked with Brattleboro Area Hospice since 2002. She has served in several positions with the Vernon Seniors and been very active with various fundraisers for the March of Dimes and the Lupus Foundation.

Chamberlin continues to advocate for small credit unions everywhere. Over the years, she contributed her talents, professionalism, and experience to the Vermont Credit Union League (now AVCU) from 1989 to 2001.

She is now “semi-retired” from Members 1st, but all the directors, volunteers, members, and employees who have plenty of fond memories and stories about Chamberlain know she'll always be part of the credit union she helped to build and grow over the past half-century.

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