First Financial Honored with 2014 CUNA Diamond Award and SIAA Awards for Outstanding Marketing Achievements

Press Release

Use this photo - CUNA and SIAA 2014

Pictured above: First Financial’s Marketing Director Jessica Revoir (L) and E-Marketing Specialist Nicole Andretta (R) with the credit union’s recent CUNA Diamond Award and SIAA Awards.

First Financial Federal Credit Union was recently honored with an “Industry’s Best” Diamond Award in electronic marketing for their new member onboarding PURL (personalized URL) campaign called Welcome2First.

The award was administered by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing & Business Development Council, a national network comprised of over 1,100 credit union marketing and business development professionals.  Awards are given in each of 29 categories ranging from advertising to community events and beyond.

“The Diamond Award competition is the most prestigious competition for excellence in marketing and business development in the credit union industry,” said Michelle Hunter, Chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, and SVP of Marketing & Development at Credit Union of Southern California. “Credit unions that receive these awards should be extremely proud of their accomplishments and know that their work represents the very best examples of creativity, innovation, relevance, and execution. The Diamond Awards are not easily earned and the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council is proud to honor those who are deserving of this recognition.”

In addition, First Financial was also awarded with two Silver Service Industry Advertising Awards (SIAA) – for their First Scoop blog and new identity theft protection products, as well as a Bronze Award for their new employee onboarding video.

Founded in 2003, SIAA is the only advertising awards program to specifically recognize the achievements of the service industry. Many other advertising awards feature consumer goods, packaged goods and other tangible products. The SIAA specifically recognizes the creativity and communication accomplishments of the service industry.

Nearly 2,000 entries were received in this year’s SIAA competition. A national panel of judges reviewed each entry for execution, creativity, quality, consumer appeal and overall breakthrough content.

First Financial also worked with Source4 business and marketing solutions in Parsippany, NJ; Grey Sky Films in Rockaway, NJ; and M2 The Agency in The Woodlands, TX on the above award-winning marketing projects.

First Financial Foundation Awards Superstorm Sandy Donations to Manahawkin Family

Press Release


Clarence and Judith Jones of Manahawkin receive a check from First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan at the credit union’s Toms River branch.

Toms River, NJ (6/24/13) – Clarence and Judith Jones of Manahawkin were delighted when they received a phone call from First Financial, letting them know they were the recipients of the First Financial Foundation’s Superstorm Sandy member donation drive.  The Jones’ met First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan, who presented them with a $330 check – most of which was collected from cash/change donation boxes that were placed in the credit union’s five branch locations in early 2013.

The First Financial Foundation was made aware that several of the credit union’s families were greatly affected by Superstorm Sandy, and wanted to contribute to the cause by helping the membership.  In early 2013, donation boxes for cash/change deposits were placed in all five of First Financial’s branch locations – as well as a link was placed on First Financial’s website for those who wanted to make an online contribution.  In addition, the Foundation contacted the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and had food collection bins placed in each of their five branch locations.  First Financial members, employees, and business account members contributed what they were able to the cause.

The First Financial Foundation received written assistance requests from 11 member families who were significantly impacted by the storm, and in April 2013 drew one of the 11 families at random to provide the amount collected from the donations.  The family drawn was that of Clarence and Judith Jones. The Jones’ home in Manahawkin, NJ was completely devastated from the storm. While their home is currently in the process of being rebuilt, the couple has been traveling back and forth between babysitting for grandchildren on Long Island and when in New Jersey, temporarily living in a camper belonging to their son, John Paul Jones, next to where their home used to be.

On receiving the donations from the First Financial Foundation – the Jones’ said, “We were managing just fine – patiently waiting as our home was being rebuilt, and residing in our camper when we were in New Jersey. Unfortunately, our camper’s water pump recently stopped functioning properly – and this generous donation will go toward its repair. We are very grateful to the First Financial Foundation and the First Financial members and employees who made contributions!”

“The main goals of the First Financial Foundation are to assist the local Monmouth and Ocean County community by providing college scholarships to area students, classroom grants to our schools, and contributing to other important causes which impact our community members in any way we can,” stated First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan.

Stephan also noted that while the Foundation wanted to be able to contribute more and give something to all of the affected member families, it wasn’t possible at this time due to the annual college scholarships that will be given out this summer and classroom grants later this fall. “Throughout the year the Foundation holds various fundraisers such as car washes, bake sales, craft fairs, and raffles in order to raise money for our annual donation campaigns. Superstorm Sandy wasn’t something anyone could’ve planned for – or known that it would affect the Jersey Shore area as much as it had. However, with our members needing help, we wanted to contribute as much as we could to those in need.  We hope our upcoming fundraising campaigns that will take place throughout the rest of this year will allow us to supply additional funds to the other ten member families who wrote to us,” said Stephan.

If you would like to donate to the First Financial Foundation, stop into any one of our branches or visit our website at and click on the donation button at the bottom of our homepage. For more information, you can contact the First Financial Foundation at or send direct requests to PO Box 1172, Toms River, NJ 08754-1172.

New Calcubot Auto Loan Calculator – Try it Today!


Found your dream car but unsure if you can afford the monthly payments? Looking for great rates on auto loans but can’t seem to find the right financial institution?

You’ve come to the right place, because with our new Auto Calcubot Loan Calculator app on our Facebook page, you can enter a vehicle price, down payment, and term and the calculator will provide you with a sample corresponding First Financial auto loan rate.* Then with just one click, voilà, your monthly payments are calculated for you and the best part is you can save your results, get advice from family and friends, apply for an auto loan online or set up alerts to see when our auto loan rates change! The application runs through Facebook, however you do not need to be logged in or even have a Facebook account to use the calculator.

So go ahead and try it out – we’ll bet you’ll be surprised how easy and cool the new Calcubot app is!

As you may have noticed, we have a new & improved blog – still the same great content, just a new versatile platform! Please enter your email address at the top right in the box under “subscribe via email” on this page to receive financial education and advice delivered straight to your inbox!

*Subject to credit approval. Credit worthiness determines your APR. Credit Union Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in New Jersey.

Wall High School’s 2012 Financial Reality Fair Video

As many of you know, we sponsored our first ever financial Reality Fair in December 2012 at Wall High School, and it was a tremendous success. There were about 150 students who participated in the financial Reality Fair, many of who were a part of the school’s Business and Finance Academy. The program was aimed at increasing their financial literacy and teaching them the value of a dollar.

Students were assigned their careers of choice, mock salaries, credit scores and $20,000 in college debt. Then they were off to buy and rent what they thought they’d need — food, shelter, cars and more — at various stations around the school’s media center, manned by credit union employees and volunteers.

“Fun, maybe. But it’s an important financial lesson for parents and educators to teach at this age and even younger,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan.

Watch the video below to get a glimpse of what was experienced at the Reality Fair!

Thank you to all our staff and volunteers who help made this day successful, we couldn’t have done it without you! To read more about Wall High School’s Reality Fair, click here.

First Financial Foundation Awards Classroom Grant to Environmental Science Teacher of Central Regional HS

jenhainesPictured above from left to right: Michelle Ramsey, Assistant Principal;  Issa Stephan, First Financial President & CEO; Graham Stevens, First Financial JFAC Managing Director; Jennifer Haines, Winning Science Teacher; Douglas Corbett, Principal; Timothy Murphy, Assistant Principal; Louise Pesci, Curriculum Supervisor; Felicya Morreale, Supervisor of Math and Science; Kevin Buscio, Supervisor of Language and Social Studies.

Bayville, NJ (12/28/12) — Central Regional H.S. Environmental Science Teacher Jen Haines, a resident of Waretown, NJ, was very excited when she received a surprise visit to her classroom by First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan, who brought her a $500 classroom grant for the 2012-2013 school year.

Ms. Haines’ supervisor, Louise Pesci, submitted a grant application on her behalf to support Haines’ ongoing efforts to conduct hands on, environmental projects that excite the students and promote transferable learning.

Pesci wrote in to the First Financial Foundation, “Ten years ago, our seventh-grade science students took part in a rain basin project, which since that time, has filtered out pollutants to the ground water and stopped non-point source pollutants from entering into our two on site storm basins. These basins empty out into the Barnegat Bay and have continued to recharge the waters entering these drains to keep our waters safe.  Students from the four classes who worked and learned about saving their environment still come back to see their handiwork, some with their own children.”

The grant money will allow Haines to expand the project to two new troubled areas on the school campus.  One area is a constantly eroding hill, and the two others are wet lands areas in front of a small storm-basin and a low lying area of land.

The grant will allow for the purchase of shovels, wet-lands plants, up-land plants and enough mulch for both project areas.  It will also allow the Science Department to invite a soil conservation specialist to come to the school and speak to the students.

Since First Financial began with a group of Asbury Park schoolteachers back in 1936, the credit union has not forgotten its educational roots.  That is why its Foundation offered current Monmouth and Ocean County educators four classroom grants to use at their schools for the 2012-2013 school year.


First Financial Foundation Awards Classroom Grant to Brick Educational Enrichment Center Teacher

Press Release


Pictured above from left to right: Graham Stevens (First Financial JFAC Managing Director), Issa Stephan (First Financial President & CEO), winning teacher Sally Flannery, Assistant Superintendent Walter Hrycenko), Jessica Revoir (First Financial Marketing Manager), and Megan Shull (First Financial Business Development Officer).

Brick Township, NJ (12/19/12) – Brick Educational Enrichment Center Teacher Sally Flannery, a resident of Wall, NJ, was delighted when she received a surprise visit to her classroom by First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan, who brought her a $500 classroom grant for the 2012-2013 school year.

Ms. Flannery submitted a grant application to purchase drop-proof iPad cases to protect the devices she uses to teach preschool children with special needs.

“The iPad is single handedly helping our children access a world they’ve never had access to before,” said Flannery. ”However, there’s one tiny, little glitch. Preschoolers drop things. Often, children on the autistic spectrum and children with behavior disorders throw things, and they are not able to differentiate between the cost of a stuffed dinosaur and a $500 iPad. The drop-proof cases will help protect our equipment and ensure our children have access to the world at their fingertips.”


Pictured above left to right: Principal Kathleen DiGrigoli, Issa Stephan, Sally Flannery, and Walter Hrycenko.

Since First Financial began with a group of Asbury Park schoolteachers back in 1936, the credit union has not forgotten its educational roots.  That is why its Foundation offered current Monmouth and Ocean County educators four classroom grants to use at their schools for the 2012-2013 school year.