FirstLight Federal Credit Union - Business of the Month

May 15th, 2013

More than just numbers



By Rachel Christiansen

If you didn’t go to school for accounting, the banking world can seem like a mythical place filled with scary numbers and acronyms.

That’s why the folks at FirstLight Federal Credit Union want to make it clear they are not a typical bank – actually, they’re not a bank at all.

Instead of having customers, a credit union has members, and each of FirstLight’s 112,000 members in the Las Cruces and El Paso areas are part owners in the company.

“We don’t sell stock and our board of directors are not paid, rather they are vol­unteers,” said community marketing repre­sentative Savonne Griffin. “Because our fi­nancial institution is member owned, we can offer lower interest rates on loans and high interest rates for return on investments.”

Griffin said members are given the op­portunity to interact with the board of directors and management staff through annual events where the two groups are brought together.

“Many of their suggestions at these meetings are implemented into our products and services that you see today,” she said.

Probably one of the most important decisions adults have to make in their lives is figuring out how to handle their hard­earned money.

It can impact things on a short- and long-term basis, and that fact alone can be intimidating – not to mention everything else that goes into financial planning. If you are still lost on how to handle your financ­es, FirstLight has begun to offer monthly Financial Literacy classes in the community.

The goal of this class, Griffin said, is to provide people with budgeting tools, insight on how to get a mortgage loan in the future and help with credit scores in terms of establishing, raising, maintaining and correcting.

“When someone joins FirstLight, not only do they become a member, they enter a partnership where the ultimate goal is achieving financial success,” said CEO Karl Murphy. “We stri
The FirstLight Federal Credit on Lohman Avenue opened May 2, 2007. There are nine branches in the Las Cruces and El Paso to offer our members great products and services that will help them make their financial dreams a reality.”

The history of FirstLight is rooted in helping civilians and military personnel with their financial needs.

“In 1955, nine individuals came up with a plan to help military and civilian person­nel on Biggs Air Force Base to have more
access to credit and other financial services,” Griffin said. “Over the years our name has changed, however we have remained the same financial institution.”

FirstLight currently operates nine branches; three in Las Cruces, three on Fort Bliss and three serving El Paso County.

To maintain the strong support for the troops, Griffin said upon the opening of the East Fort Bliss branch in 2010, FirstLight donated part of the branch building to the USO, for soldiers to have a safe place to visit during the day – making it one of the largest in the county.

“We also offer a program for our mem­bers who serve in the military and have little or no credit to get a car loan,” Griffin said.

Employing a total of 350 people with­in the walls of FirstLight’s nine branches,
Griffin said they are all equally as passionate about community involvement and troop support.

Many of FirstLight’s employees can be seen at key annual community events in both Las Cruces and El Paso, such as the Bataan Memorial Death March, the Greater Chamber’s Thanks Team WSMR event and more.

The leadership team at FirstLight places an emphasis on the commitment to give back to the community.

“We feel humbled and grateful with the support the Las Cruces community has giv­en us and look forward to many more years of building great partnerships and successes together,” Murphy said.

FirstLight Federal Credit Union can be found on Facebook, and runs occasional cash and prize giveaways.

Mission: Helping our members achieve financial success