Political Conventions Have CU Trades Gearing Up
Hospital playground dedications, the sponsorship of political panel events and casual meetings with legislators and delegates are on tap for CUNA and its Florida and North Carolina leagues as they work to promote credit unions and industry issues during the national Republican and Democratic conventions.
Topping the list of events will be the dedication of hospital playground improvement projects in the two host cities, the culmination of CUNA’s convention “leave-behind” projects, which began in 2000. In St. Petersburg, Fla., located near Tampa where the Republican National Convention will take place, CUNA and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions chose to retrofit a playground at All Children’s Hospital. A ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring credit union dignitaries and yet-to-be-named VIPs is scheduled for Aug. 29.
The project includes a sensory garden for children in rehab and all access equipment so children with special needs can play, said Mike Bridges, vice president, marketing and communications for the league.
“So much physical therapy is done inside the hospital, and this will give them a chance to go outside and get out of the hospital for a bit,” Bridges said.
A similar leave-behind project for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. will decorate and assemble a permanent therapeutic art installation as part of a rooftop playground renewal project at Levine Children’s Hospital.
John McGrail, president of the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation, called the effort in Charlotte “a whirlwind of a fundraising event,” as industry groups involved raised the $300,000 needed for each project from credit unions nationwide and other donors within a six-month period.
“It really speaks to what credit unions are willing and able to do in uncertain economic times,” he said. “These projects embody that ‘people helping people’ philosophy.”
McGrail said not only will the Levine playground benefit sick children, it will also aid their young siblings and parents.
“We know that families in these situations, due to the pressure they’re under, either bond closer or splinter. Our goals with these projects are to create an environment to get out of the hospital and into the fresh air, and foster family bonding during troubled times,” he said.
A Sept. 5 ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for the Levine playground.
McGrail said the foundation will keep the playground goodwill going with a similar project planned for the Greenville Hospital System in Greenville, S.C. That project will kick off in October, he said.
CUNA is also sponsoring political events, organized by political magazine National Journal, scheduled during the two conventions. Live Daily Briefings breakfast events will feature news regarding convention developments and political analysis by National Journal, The Atlantic and CBS News. At both conventions, each briefing will also include special daily topics like social media in politics, pollsters, congressional races and campaign managers.
The trade association will also sponsor nightly watch parties for credit union representatives who were unable to grab a coveted seat on the convention floors.
CUNA Vice President of Political Affairs Trey Hawkins said the conventions provide a good opportunity to promote credit unions, because both national and state legislators are together in one place.
“We want to make sure credit unions have a presence, so the most prominent individuals from state delegations will see what credit unions are all about,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to showcase our signature leave-behind projects and put credit unions out there as doing something distinct and different.”
CUNA Senior Vice President of Political Affairs Richard Gose added that the conventions provide a different environment from Washington, where legislators are rushing off to attend events or cast votes.
“It’s always good when people are all together in one place and you can get your issues out,” he said.