Next month, Oregon's Advantis Credit Union gets to celebrate its second big event marking participation in the national Homes for Our Troops campaign building homes for severely injured soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Feb. 5, the $720 million Portland CU will turn over the keys to its second HFOT home built in the last two months in a ceremony honoring U.S. Army S.Sgt Christian Bagge and his family taking possession of a home in Parkdale.
In early December Advantis executives hosted an identical turn-over-the keys ceremony for a new home built in Sandy for double-amputee Army Specialist PC Kevin Pannell, again with funds donated by CU members, employees and the public.
Pannell and Bagge are two of the dozens of war vets chosen by the Boston-based Homes for Our Troops military charity to receive the customized homes.
The Portland CU, which has long been in the forefront of CUs across the nation participating with HFOT, said its patriotic spirit and deep interest in supporting our troops "as the least we can do" has guided its fund-raising activities. CU members and volunteers have also been active in soliciting contractors and vendors in "Build Brigades" providing supplies and actually helping erect the structures.
Media attention last week on the Parkdale home for Sgt. Bagge focused on plans for a "work day" Feb. 4 in which volunteers are slated to clean the home for the former Oregon National Guardsman who lost both legs while on a road-clearing mission in a June 2005 Baghdad bombing.
The Bagge family will be escorted to their new home via a fire engine from the Parkdale Fire Department and joined by vehicles and emergency responders from six other fire departments in nearby Hood River. The processional will include a flag line and motorcyclists, members of the local Patriot Guard Riders.
"We were there when the Build Brigade took place in August and it will be an honor to be there for the completion of this project," said the district captain of Patriot Guard Riders. Also on hand will be members of the Dalles Armory forming a color guard. Joining Advantis as a sponsor of the events is a local construction firm and Safeway Stores which is filling up the kitchen cupboards of the new residences with groceries.