When Annie Wilma Vamper passed away on May 19, 1990, the community development credit union movement lost one of its heroes — and an important part of its history.


For more than 30 years, Annie Vamper served in virtually every role that the credit union movement has to offer. Born in Bessemer, Alabama in 1933, she started as a volunteer with the College City Elks Lodge FCU in 1958. By 1962, she began working with the M.C.E. FCU, where she served as manager until 1966.


During the War on Poverty in the 1960s, Annie was recruited to become the Credit Union Coordinator for Dade Economic Opportunity Program in Florida, where she organized, chartered, and trained the staff of twelve neighborhood credit unions. Her work caught the attention of the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions, and she became a Limited-Income Credit Union Specialist for the Southeast Region.


She joined the team of Project Moneywise, to promote consumer education and cooperation among low-income people. In 1972, as the nation began to turn away from the problems of the poor, Annie returned to managing a credit union, Coulter Electronics Employees FCU, where she served for 8 years before being recruited again by the National Credit Union Administration.


With the passage of the Community Development Credit Union Revolving Loan Fund, NCUA moved to establish a new CDCU division, and Annie became its second in command. But by 1982, the office was dissolved, a victim of deregulation and the ebbing interest in programs to help the poor. Annie accepted a transfer to New Jersey, where she entered into training to become a field examiner for NCUA. But by this time, her unique skills and interest no longer were valued by the agency. In September 1983, she left NCUA for the last time.


It was then that she came to the National Federation of CDCUs, joining its only remaining staff member, Cliff Rosenthal, in the rebuilding the Federation. She became Associate Director — and chief financial officer, Capitalization Program staff, regulatory analyst, and “godmother” to half a dozen new CDCUs formed during the 1980s.


Until her death in 1990, she gave every ounce of her strength, her commitment, and her love to the CDCU movement. In 1993, the “Helping Hands” Award was created to honor Annie Vamper’s memory, along with the dedication of the Federation’s training center at our New York City headquarters.


The “Helping Hands” Award celebrates those individuals whose unselfish work for the CDCU movement carry-on Annie’s legacy.