Shaw Air Force Employees (SAFE) celebrated the 60th anniversary of its federal charter signing on January 14 with celebrations in all branches.
In January 1955, 15 civilian employees at Shaw Air Force Base organized SAFE Federal Credit Union. When SAFE first opened, it was with $75 in deposits at a borrowed desk in an office at the base civilian personnel office. More than 500 people joined the first year. Active duty military stationed at Shaw were the first additions to the credit union’s field of membership, and it remained open to only Shaw employees until the mid-1970s when Sumter governmental and school district employees were added.
The credit union relocated several times at Shaw before a two-story structure was built in 1974. Still in use, the building offers full service for deposit and loan products.
Through the years SAFE’s membership has expanded with nearly 500 additional groups and eight underserved communities now included in the credit union’s field of membership. SAFE has 17 branches; five in Sumter County, three in the Columbia area, and one each in Camden, Lugoff, Bishopville, Manning, West Columbia, Lexington, Santee, Orangeburg, and Florence. The credit union also has a call center located in the administration building in Sumter and a branch in the International Paper Mill in Eastover. In addition, SAFE has two in-school branches located at Lee Central High School and Richland Northeast High School.
SAFE, headquartered in Sumter, is the largest credit union serving the South Carolina Midlands with 108,000 members and $903 million in assets.