On October 26th 1951, our founding fathers met at St. Paul’s Catholic Church to learn about how their community would benefit from having a credit union. Credit Unions are Member-Owned, have lower fees, lower loan rates, higher dividends, and exceptional service. By the end of this meeting, the Onaway Community Federal Credit Union had been formed. It was to serve a 20 mile radius around St. Paul’s Catholic Church. The forethought of our founding fathers and the continued insight of ALL members, including our Board of Directors, Managers, and Employees have allowed us to grow and expand, while still being able to offer quality financial services to ALL members. Our first Treasurer’s Report reflected deposits of $1,634.25. Today, our credit union holds assets of over $80 million and is serving over 10,000 members.
The Onaway Community Federal Credit Union took its first deposits and gave out its first loans in the living room of Mike O’Meara’s house. Mr. O’Meara was the first CEO at the Onaway Community Federal Credit Union. Business hours were on Monday evenings from 8:30Pm to 10PM. The Credit Union switched locations and CEO’s many times over the next few years, largely because the position was on a volunteer basis. CEO’s included John Stoner, James Snoduy, Mack McCloud, and Lois Hoffmaster. Locations included St. Paul’s Hall, Great Northern Drug, and the old Tom’s IGA building. Finally in 1956, construction of the Onaway Community Federal Credit Union’s first home commenced. It was located on the corner of First and State Streets where Mr. Wayne McFall accepted the position as CEO.
On October 17, 1977, Mr. Len Gaynor accepted the position as the CEO of the Onaway Community Federal Credit Union. He led our credit union through many big changes over his 17 year tenure, with assets starting at $6 million and ending around $31 million upon his retirement. 1978 marked the year of opening our first branch office, which was located in Indian River and shared with Straits Area Federal Credit Union. Quickly thereafter, the credit union opened a Rogers City office in Erkfitz Plaza in the spring of 1979. The Onaway Community Federal Credit Union was growing fast, so an expansion was needed. On May 2, 1979 Groundbreaking and Construction commenced at 20855 Washington Ave, which is now the current home of our Main Office in Onaway. Doors opened for our new spacious building on January 21, 1980. At the request of Wolverine residents and business owners, in 1988 we opened our Wolverine branch next to the Wolverine Post Office. In 1993 a new Rogers City office was built at its current location, so members would have access to a Night Depository and a drive through window.
On November 1, 1994 Tom Peacock assumed the position as the CEO of the Onaway Community Federal Credit Union. With our continued growth at our branches, we decided to build new branch offices in both Indian River and Wolverine during the spring of 1998. Then in 1999, our growth made it necessary to add on to both the North and South Wings of our Main Office in Onaway.
In the spring of 2001, Scott Pauly of Rogers City accepted the position of CEO at the Onaway Community Federal Credit Union and continues to lead us today. Assets have gone from a little over $46 million to currently a little over $80 million. On September 19th, 2011 the Onaway Community Federal Credit Union proudly opened the doors of its new Lending Center in Indian River. Then on November 30, 2011 we received acceptance from NCUA to expand our field of membership. We are now able to serve members who live, work, worship, attend school in, or own a business located in the Northernmost Eight Counties of Lower Michigan, which include; Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Montmorency, Otsego, Alpena, Emmet, Charlevoix, and Antrim Counties.
On October, 15 2012 the Onaway Community Federal Credit Union officially changed its name to Awakon Federal Credit Union. With the expansion of membership, a name change was needed to better represent our field of membership. The new name does just that, it represents ALL of our members, without being geographically restrictive.
However, since our Credit Union was founded in Onaway, we wanted to incorporate Onaway’s heritage into the new name. In the 1880’s, Marritt Chandler named Onaway after a stanza in the poem titled “The Song of Hiawatha” by Longfellow. That same stanza of the poem mentioning Onaway, was later composed into a song, titled “Onaway, Awake, Beloved” by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Onaway is an Ojibwa Native American cry, that when translated into English means Alert or Awaken. To further accentuate the Onaway roots in our name, we purposely spelled Awakon with an O-N.
We owe our success to the loyalty and support of ALL of our members, together living the credit union motto of “People Helping People.”