May 12, 1951, ten young Ukrainian immigrants were charged with the responsibility of creating a new financial institution, to meet the needs of their fellow Ukrainians in Chicago. These individuals had been active participants in the cooperative movement of Ukraine, they were pleased to discover that Credit Unions existed in the United States. They were:
- Anton Artymowycz
- Roman Mycyk
- Alexander Atanowsky
- Stefan Sambirsky
- Bohdan Bilynsky
- Elias Semianczuk
- Joseph Datzko
- Walter Tymciurak
- Gregory Masnyk
- Elias Wytanowycz
July 2, 1951 Selfreliance Federal Credit Union received its federal charter and held its foundation meeting. Elias Semianczuk was elected President, and Omelan Pleszkewycz became the Credit Union's Treasurer/Manager.
Selfreliance Federal Credit Union's first office was located on the second floor of the Ukrainian community building "Besida", at 2408 W. Chicago Ave. From July 2, 1951 through December 31, 1953, the members of the Board of Selfreliance, together with the Manager, were the tellers, loan officers, bookkeepers - for 2½ years they worked as volunteers, in their "spare time" after full days of work in factories and offices.
In 1953, Omelan Pleszkewycz became the credit union's first salaried employee. He held this position until his retirement in1980. Mr. Pleszkewycz continues to serve as an Honorary President of the Credit Union.
By 1955, the Credit Union had grown to $650,000 in assets and to 1,100 members. Two additional full time staffers were hired. In 1955 Anton Artymowycz was elected to the position of President.
April 17, 1957 the Board of Directors authorized the purchase the building at 2351 West Chicago Avenue. The professionalism and trustworthiness of its leaders, together with a well crafted campaign of public education about cooperatives, inspired growing confidence among community members in the newly-created institution. In 1959 Anton Artymowycz resigned from the Board of Directors, taking a position as a full-time staffer of the credit union. Roman Mycyk was elected President of the Board of Directors.
During its first decade, 2,754 Ukrainians became members of Selfreliance Federal Credit Union, and credit union assets grew to over $2.5 million.