Small Business Spotlight: MOCEANS Center for Independent Living

I am pleased to present a monthly blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to me. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, MOCEANS Center for Independent Living in Long Branch and Toms River. — Matt Brazinski, Assistant Vice President of Business Development

Judyth Brown: Executive Director of MOCEANS Center for Independent Living

Tell us a bit about MOCEANS. We are the community hub for people who live with disability. We have a Monmouth County office in Long Branch, and an Ocean County office in Toms River. I used to say that we were like the guidance counselor for life after High School, but that metaphor only works if your guidance counselor is also a neighbor who has a disability. We’re the go-to place to find answers, solve problems, get access to support and services, peer support and advocacy. 50% of our staff are people who live with a disability, so we know about the obstacles and challenges that disability imposes on everyday living.

What are some of the keys to your success in growing the organization?
For me it’s really been about returning to our mission (providing information, instruction and support for people living with disability, their families, friends and allies in the community. Also promoting public awareness and barrier-free access in the community while supporting individual choice, advancing the independent living philosophy, promoting the civil rights and inclusion of all people living with disabilities). MOCEANS has been working for 30 years and the original need is just as pressing as it ever was. We’ve seen progress, sure, but we’ve also seen new challenges develop. So, we’ve turned back to our original mission to find ways to make our responses more relevant.

Tell me about your goals for MOCEANS, what does the future hold?
We’re dedicated to reaching people across the lifespan. We are primarily a resource for adults, but we want to be there at the times of life that make a difference. We’re looking to offer resources that make a lasting difference in people’s lives. So for the foreseeable future we’re looking to support young people in their transition to adult life, and we’re traveling to senior centers to support older caregivers too.

How can members of the local community help to support MOCEANS?
We have social and fundraising events, so we always need hands. We had our first annual Beach Bash this year, it was a fully accessible day at the beach in Long Branch. Volunteer help with events like that are priceless. Of course, we are a 501C3 and monetary donations keep us working in the community. But the most important support the community can render, is to be sure that anyone who needs assistance gets our number. Our services are free of charge and confidential.

What do you like most about First Financial FCU? I like the feel of a home town bank, First Financial is clearly invested in the welfare of the community. You support financial literacy with more than words, you go out to make sure that young and vulnerable people have the resources they need to manage their financial life, and that really speaks to me.

To learn more about MOCEANS and how you can help support the organization, visit their website at 

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.

Small Business Spotlight: Capt’n Hippo in Toms River

I am pleased to present a monthly blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to me. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle in Toms River. — Matt Brazinski, Assistant VP of Business Development

Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle:

Fishing or crabbing? Get your fresh bait and gear at Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle in South Toms River, NJ. Owners Lenny and Sandy Hahn have over 20 years experience fishing the Toms River and surrounding waters. Capt’n Hippo is proud of their small size.  They have everything needed to get you started at a very reasonable price. In fact, there is nothing in the store that costs more than $100.00! Lenny and Sandy are local, genuine, knowledgeable, and love to help people just starting out.  

Owners: Lenny and Sandy Hahn

Years in Business: 8+

Previous Careers: Lenny was a Civil Engineer CAD Manager for 25+ years. When he was laid off he had the choice of either finding a new job or starting his own business. Lenny had always loved fishing, so a bait and tackle store was the perfect fit. Capt’n Hippo was born!

What do you love most about the business?

The customers!  Making new friends and seeing parents bringing children in to learn how to fish.

What has your biggest challenge been in business?

Getting people in the door and keeping operating costs down.

What do you like most about banking with First Financial?

Ease of use, and the people at First Financial are great!

What is your key to success?

Smiling! All of the shops have the same inventory on the shelves; it is the people behind the counter that make the difference.

You can find Capt’n Hippo Bait & Tackle at:

334 Atlantic City Blvd

Toms River NJ 08757

Phone: (732) 505-3500

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.



First Financial Foundation Awards 2017 Scholarship to Stockton University Student

Press Release

FREEHOLD, N.J. – The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation ( recently awarded a $500 scholarship to Nicole Weaver of Toms River, who graduated from Toms River High School North. She is now attending Stockton University (Galloway, NJ) to pursue a B.S. in health science and then a M.S. to become a future physician’s assistant.

In order to qualify for this year’s scholarship, high school seniors attending school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties were given the option to submit a written essay or create a 60 second video clip. The students must also be attending an accredited 2 or 4 year college or university in the fall of 2017. Four winners were selected to receive a $500 First Financial Foundation 2017 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship.

This year’s essay topic: You and a friend decide that you would like to start building credit. Discuss with your friend what good credit is, ways to start building credit, how your credit union can help, and the benefits earned by having good credit.

This year’s video topic: Create a 60-second video that covers the importance of financial literacy.

Weaver submitted an essay where she explained that “having good credit is extremely important, and if you have good credit you may receive a lower interest rate on big items – such as a house or car.” She also mentioned that “a credit union such as First Financial, can help individuals start building credit by offering help or counseling on how to effectively build your credit without going beyond your means, and that credit unions can also offer low-cost secured loans.”

“We are thrilled to be able to aid these admirable and bright young students in their journey of success and education,” said First Financial President and CEO, Issa Stephan.  “Our credit union puts a high priority on education. After all, that’s how First Financial began 81 years ago – with a group of schoolteachers in Asbury Park.”

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About the First Financial Foundation: Since 1994, First Financial has supported the Monmouth & Ocean communities with the Erma Dorrer Scholarship Program. Today, that program has been extended into the First Financial Foundation to assist charitable organizations of the Monmouth & Ocean County Communities.  The First Financial Federal Credit Union Foundation is a non-profit working to support a variety of community programs and organizations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  We direct 100% of your contributions to programs because all administrative expenses are paid for by First Financial Federal Credit Union.  To learn more, visit