PNCU Celebrates 100 Years of Service

The Polish National Credit Union is celebrating its’ 100th Anniversary this year and there’s no better way to celebrate than by hearing from our local leaders, community figures, business owners and members!

Jody Doele, Marketing Director
Thornes Marketplace
150 Main Street, Northampton, MA

Julie Copoulos, Executive Director
The Chicopee Chamber of Commerce
48 Center Street, Chicopee, MA

Charlie Welch, Owner
Bernard Welch Realty, Inc.
198 Bowdoin Street, Springfield, MA

Jeffrey Chirgwin, President
PNCU Insurance Services
270 Westfield Road, Holyoke, MA

Julie Copoulos, Executive Director
The Chicopee Chamber of Commerce
48 Center Street, Chicopee, MA

Stephanie Shaw, Executive Director
Chicopee Department of Veterans’ Services
36 Center Street, Chicopee, MA

Tony Sosa, Owner
Sosa’s Barber Shop
85 East Street, Ludlow, MA

The first group of Polish immigrants arrived in Chicopee in the year 1880. Their roots tracing back to the southern portion of the Polish Nation, commonly referred to as Galicia. The Poles would fill many of the manufacturing jobs in the city’s textile mills, where they would earn money to pay passage to America for their relatives and friends.

The majority of American Poles, who came to Chicopee, were teenagers. By and large they were penniless and undereducated. Most of the young men and women were fleeing the poorest province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Many of the first immigrants arrived with their wives and family, entering America via Ellis Island. In 1885, according to the town census, 205 Poles resided in Chicopee. In less than 30 years from their arrival, the entrepreneurial, self-assured group created more Polish owned businesses than any other community in New England.

In the City of Chicopee on March 21, 1921 at 9:00am, the Institution, Polish National Credit Union came into existence. Fifteen men with a capital outlay of $325.00 were its founders.

Mr. Felix Furtek was the Credit Union’s first president. The institution’s Vice-President was Joseph A. Nowak, a first generation American and a key player in the success of the new Credit Union. Born in Chicopee, he graduated from Chicopee High School in 1915 and Boston University Law School in 1918. That year he began his practice of law in Chicopee as the first lawyer of Polish ancestry. The young man who was fluent in Polish and English would serve as the Credit Union’s legal counsel for nearly 50 years.

Initially, the little Credit Union endured some difficult years. Nine months after its origin, the financial statement of September and October showed an operating profit for the two months of $51.89 of which 27 cents was a fine on a delinquent mortgage payment. The Credit Union’s capital at this time was a mere $6,081.50.

Operating under the watchful eye of the state’s banking commissioners. “Furtek’s Bank” was open for business daily from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. Deposits were accepted from 50 cents and up from children and adults. 5% was paid on deposits and would be figured from the first and fifteenth of each month.

The original location and home of the Polish National Credit Union was at 222 Exchange Street. The Credit Union shared quarters with a real estate and insurance firm owned by Mr. Furtek. The entire space occupied by these two businesses was 15 feet wide and 25 feet deep.

Furtek was the prototype Polish American businessman. While working a 60 hour work week, he found the time and energy to attend evening public school to learn to read, write and speak the language of his adopted country. As the first Polish American member of the Chicopee School Committee, he urged immigrants to stay in school, master the English language and become citizens of the United States.

In February of 1967, a new Credit Union building was dedicated on Exchange Street. To mark the event, the Credit Union published a little book which was called “An American Success Story.” The new building was less than fifty yards from the first Credit Union office. The new facility was constructed on the Columbian Hotel site at the corner of Miller and Exchange Streets.

In 1985, the Credit Union acquired Granby Credit Union followed by Buxton Employees Credit Union in 1989. Then in 1989, a new, larger office was built at 46 Main Street in Chicopee Falls. In January 2006, the Credit Union’s pattern of growth continued with the acquisition of the Westfield River Federal Credit Union and the construction of a new full-service branch in Southampton, MA. Just a few years later, in November 2010, another full-service branch was opened in Hampden, MA. In 2012, the Credit Union acquired ValleyStone Credit Union and in 2016, acquired Chicopee Municipal Employees Credit Union joined.

In 2021, PNCU celebrates a century of service to its members and the Pioneer Valley community. For decades the financial outsider, PNCU is one of the region’s fastest growing savings institutions.

The Polish National Credit Union stands strong and proud as a full-service community credit union with a complete line of personal and business banking products and services. While having Polish roots, the Credit Union is open to all people and businesses in the areas it serves. Visit one of the Credit Union’s eight branches located in Chicopee, Granby, Westfield, Southampton, Hampden and Wilbraham, MA today!

Relationships Built to Last

For more information about accounts and services, find a branch nearest youuse our Contact Form, or call us at (413) 592-9495.