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In Their Words

As a not-for-profit, member owned credit union, we’re incredibly proud of our small role in opening doors –professional and personal – for our members and the communities we serve together. When our members and community partners succeed, it exemplifies how credit unions can help people achieve their dreams and improve our world.

Here are just a few of those success stories, told by our members in their own words:

Kari Kulojärvi

When Kari Kulojärvi arrived in the United States from Finland to begin his new job, everything was new. While trying to work through the complications involved with a move halfway around the world, Kari and his family also had to navigate America’s banking bureaucracy. It was overwhelming. They had no financial history in America, and faced an uphill battle in finding a home, buying a car and getting settled in their new country. 

"I had no credit history, I didn't know how to open a bank account, how to buy or lease a car. And of course, I had to close my life back in Finland, so there was a lot of things going on back there too,”  Kulojärvi said. “Closing accounts, selling cars back in Finland while buying new cars and stuff over here. Just so much going on. I didn't even know how to start.”

With the help of First Tech’s Relocation Program, Kari was able to gain the financial standing and security he needed to start his new life here. We are proud to call Kari our member, and to share his story with you. 

Aron Carleson

Aron Carleson has made First Tech a part of her family. In her role as the Executive Director of the Hillsboro Schools Foundation, Carleson has teamed up with First Tech to help bridge the digital divide by providing access to technology and STEM education for kids who need it most. But her relationship with First Tech extends beyond her job, as Carleson and her family have invested in First Tech as their primary financial institution for more than 10 years. The Carleson family has big plans for their future, with retirement on the horizon and a commitment to improving their Hillsboro community for generations to come.

“We see a long future in Hillsboro, and we’re grateful for First Tech for helping us to make those long-range plans come true,” Carleson said.

We’re thankful for members and leaders like Aron. She’s deepening her roots in Hillsboro, and building strong relationships with organizations that are invested in the community. 


Jensen Yip and 808 Grinds

Meet Jensen: a small business owner, husband, dad, and proud member of First Tech. Like so many of our members, Jensen is looking for financial security while pursuing his dreams. He hails from Hawaii and brings with him a unique flavor of the islands, which he has parlayed into a successful business. Years ago, Jensen bought a car—financed through First Tech—and later sold it to buy his first food truck serving traditional Hawaiian food in a very Portland way: unique, fast, and delicious. Jensen’s work ethic and entrepreneurial sense has helped him grow his business to include multiple food trucks—plus a brick-and-mortar location—in and around the Portland area. 

Jensen and his wife, Jesse, met years ago and shared the same belief that putting their trust in a community-oriented institution like First Tech was the best decision for their growing family. 

We are proud to have Jensen and Jesse as members of First Tech.


Hillsboro Schools Foundation

Dash and Dot are two little robots making a big impact in Hillsboro, Oregon. The project was made possible by a Hillsboro Schools Foundation innovation grant, which First Tech has been supporting for more than 10 years. By providing access to technology for kids who need it most, Hillsboro Schools Foundation is helping to bridge the digital divide. Dash and Dot provide students with an opportunity to apply creative problem solving, coding, and math in a way that is engaging and fun. We’re honored to support and fund STEM initiatives that translate to more success and involvement in the classroom. 

“Thanks to First Tech’s support, children who wouldn’t have the opportunities to engage in technology have this hands-on STEM experience in the classroom,” said Hillsboro Schools Foundation Executive Director Aron Carleson. 

Free Geek

Free Geek’s commitment to digital access and sustainable re-use is creating a more inclusive community. By introducing refurbished technology—and the tools and knowledge to use it—to the people that need it most, Free Geek is championing STEM initiatives in and around Portland, Oregon.    

The Plug into Portland program is an excellent example of how Free Geek is making a difference to bridge the digital divide. First Tech is thrilled to partner with such an empowering organization that champions digital equality.