Giving Back this Holiday Season

December means many different things to different people. For the fortunate, it’s a joyous, festive time of year, with lots of food, decorations and gifts. Others are facing financial or health concerns that can make the season hard. Our hope for all is that the holidays will be a season of sharing, caring and feeling care from others. This newsletter focuses on the importance of giving back during the holiday season.

As the year comes to a close, we look toward 2022 with great hope and determination as we continue to pursue our mission of expanding economic opportunities for all. To you, our members, we thank you for trusting us to be your partner as you seek greater financial strength and prosperity. We at Self-Help Federal Credit Union wish you the warmest of holidays and look forward to serving you in the new year!

Member Spotlight - Judy Knief -
Giving back every day!

The holidays are a special time, and many of our members make it even more special. A great example is member Judy Knief, one of the most generous people you will ever meet.  She loves to bake and bring joy to others by sharing the fruits of her talents. Judy has a regular list of people she shares her baked goods with, including neighbors, her mail carrier and—lucky for us—our Napa, California branch staff.  Judy delivers the most scrumptious baked goods: banana bread, cranberry bread, sugar cookies, chocolate/pecan turtles and more.

Judy was born in Germany right after World War II and grew up in a small town outside of Freiburg. As a young adult, Judy went into town one day and applied for a job at the United States military base near her home. One of the first people she met on the base was Napa, California native Lewis Knief. Within a year, the two were married, and Judy found herself on a plane headed to the Bay Area, where she and Lew have lived ever since.

Once home, Lew started working at the Mare Island Naval Base, where he produced the pure water that went into submarines, and was there for 30 years. Lew joined the Mare Island Federal Credit Union, which later merged with Self-Help Federal Credit Union. (See our short video that tells the story of this credit union history.) 

Nowadays Judy and Lew visit the Napa branch at least once a month, though they used to go weekly. Because of the pandemic, Judy and Lew take advantage of Self-Help’s remote services and do most of their banking online. So why visit the branch at all? 

Judy said she appreciates the service and the way she is treated at the branch. From the moment she walks in, she is greeted by name. “They know who I am and take care of my banking needs in a professional yet friendly manner.” 

Being members of the branch has become a family tradition for the Knief family. Judy and Lew’s daughter and granddaughter also have accounts at the credit union, and are part of the Napa branch family. 

Judy and Lew, we are honored you have put your trust in Self-Help Federal Credit Union, and value your membership.  Thank you for giving back; you are an inspiration to us all!

Other Ways to Give Back
Other ways to give back

Giving back can take a variety of forms. Depending on your skills and the unique nature of your community, you will find many opportunities to help those around you. Kind actions bring joy to both gift-giver and recipient. Here are a few ideas to spark your giving side:

  • Donate. Many of us have gently used things that others could use. From food to old cell phones to the clothes in the back of your closet, in-kind gifts donated to local organizations can make an immediate difference in others’ lives.
  • Recognize those who serve. Police and fire departments, local military bases and local veteran’s organizations offer the opportunity to recognize and thank those who help the community.  Supporting the troops is another option. 
  • Volunteer. Many local nonprofits could use an extra hand. At Volunteer Match, you can get in touch with a nonprofit in your area that needs your help.
  • Shop local. Our favorite neighborhood businesses depend on us to keep them in the community. When you choose to shop locally, you help these businesses come back stronger than ever.
  • Send holiday cards. Consider brightening the day of residents at local senior citizen home or first responders, like workers in the emergency room at your local hospital, with a surprise holiday card.
  • Plant a tree. Trees produce oxygen and shade and absorb carbon dioxide, making them essential for a healthy planet. Every tree that we plant is one small step toward protecting the environment in which we live. 

Do You Qualify for Free Help with Taxes?

Tax Time! Need Help?

Hiring a private accountant to help with taxes can be expensive, but some of our members may qualify for free help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Both of these programs are IRS initiatives that offer free tax preparation services for people who qualify based on income, disabilities, limited English or, in the case of TCE, age (60 or older). For VITA assistance, the maximum income to qualify is generally $57,000 or less a year.

One unique feature of VITA and TCE is that the services are provided by IRS partners and staffed by volunteers. Training is provided for volunteers who prepare returns, and all volunteers are required to protect the privacy of information provided by the people they help.

Self-Help Federal branches in Bakersfield, Chicago, Fresno, Lamont, Pittsburg, Porterville, San Diego, San Francisco, West Oakland and Wilmington are pleased to operate or partner with local organizations to offer VITA tax preparation services.  If you’re a member who uses one of these branches, don’t hesitate to inquire about local resources.

For more information on VITA and to locate a VITA/TCE site near you, click here. Interested in volunteering at one of these sites?  Click here.


  • On November 3, Self-Help Federal Credit Union held a virtual Annual Members’ Meeting to conduct business and review 2021 highlights.  The meeting included a financial review; Board elections; a message from our CEO and co-founder, Martin Eakes; information on our work in Environmental Sustainability and Green Lending; an update on the new Chatham branch makeover; and an introduction to the Dolores Huerta Peace and Justice Cultural Center, coming to Bakersfield, California. In case you missed it, you can find the meeting minutes here.
  • Do you need extra cash over the holiday season? Self-Help Federal offers Holiday Loans that could help. We are accepting loan applications through December 31, 2021.
  • Is a financial check-up on your wish list?  We partner with GreenPath, a nationally recognized nonprofit focused on financial wellness. For great financial tools and money management tips, try the self-guided modules on the GreenPath website, watch the videos, use the handy calculators or call to speak with one of their coaches. When calling, just mention that you are a member of Self-Help Federal Credit Union. The service is free to members and their families.
  • Career Opportunities. Do you like what we do at Self-Help Federal? Would you like to join our team or know someone who might be interested? Click here for a list of our current job openings.