WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -As part of the effort to return to normal, the week of October 15 kicked off with a proclamation written by President George W. Bush designating Thursday, October 18, 2001 International Credit Union Day and praising credit unions for their mission. “The commitment credit unions make to the well-being of local communities reminds us of the common threads that bind us together as Americans,” Bush wrote. CUNA President and CEO Daniel A. Mica agrees and believes this year’s International CU Day takes on an even greater significance in the wake of the tragedies of September 11. “This year’s theme, `Catch our Spirit’, resonates especially strongly because our values-democratic rule, equality of membership, commitment to service, social responsibility-are also the values of America,” said Mica. “Credit unions and members represent the very best of what freedom is all about.” In Madison, Wis., employees of CUNA, the World Council of CUs Inc. and CUNA CU have designated October 16 as the “CU Day of Caring.” More than 70 employees at the CU Center took part in volunteer projects throughout Madison delivering Meals on Wheels, doing yard or garden work for Independent Living, distributing “Coats for Kids,” sorting clothes for the Community Action Coalition, and working at the Second Harvest Food Bank’s food pantry and the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore resale shop. WOCCU field offices will conduct press conferences promoting ICU Day in conjunction with the United Nations International Year of the Volunteer by talking on the air at local radio stations. On the 18th, CUNA’s Washington staff will host an afternoon reception at Credit Union House, where employees will join guests from the credit union and cooperative communities to celebrate both ICU Day and National Cooperative Month. Games are also on the agenda as CUNA’s Washington office will participate in credit-union-oriented games. Between the WOCCU emphasis on “Cooperation, the power of many to change the world” and credit unions encouraging everyone to “Catch Our Spirit” the air seems to be charged with creative CU energy. Here is just a glimpse at some CU Day festivities around the world : * In Georgia, Governor Roy E. Barnes has proclaimed October 18 as “Credit Union Day” in the state. * Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Cabinet adopted a similar resolution proposed by state Comptroller Robert Milligan naming the week of October 14-21 as International Credit Union Week. In his resolution, Milligan recognized the special efforts credit unions have made in light of September 11′s terrorist attacks. The resolution points out that CUs have established the Credit Unions Rebuild America Fund as a central collection point through which donations can be channeled directly to relief efforts. Milligan also paid special respects to the efforts of Miami Firefighters FCU, which has established several relief efforts on behalf of firefighters and the police, raising over $100,000 so far. * New Jersey state lawmakers, credit union members and representatives of the state’s Department of Transportation will commemorate the 18th as New Jersey CU Day at the state capitol. District 15 Democrats State Sen. Shirley Turner and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora will attend and present a ceremonial resolution hosted by the NJDOT. * The Maine Credit Union League opted to serve up a smorgasbord of treats from 15 countries to ring in International CU Day. The event, Taste the World Day, was a two-pronged effort to raise awareness about world hunger and raise funds for the league’s Ending Hunger campaign * The Michigan CU League and its members have thrown a media blitz CU Day party by peppering the state with credit union messages on more than 100 billboards. That, combined with newspaper editorials, radio and television segments, will result in about 58 million Michigan consumers exposed to credit unions’ message, said MCUL President and CEO David Adams. * The D.C. Credit Union League is holding a reception at the Credit Union House to celebrate its relationship with Nicaragua. Managers from that movement will visit with area credit unions and share ideas. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is expected to stop by. * Chocolate Bayou Community Federal Credit Union, kicks off its celebration with a special five-week member contest. Members who share the credit union philosophy with others have a chance to win big prizes including member coupon book, gift certificates and a personal computer. * JSC FCU will not only offer members hot dog lunches, cookies and punch but also provide free credit reports and screenings for eyes, hearing and breast cancer. * University of Michigan Credit Union has invited Congresswoman Lynn Rivers, who represents the 13th District of Michigan and is a long-time member of UMCU to meet and talk to fellow members at the main headquarters. . * NE Georgia Chapter of Credit Unions, is hosting a “Miracle Fair” complete with carnival booths, face painting, burgers and dogs, prizes, and a raffle to raise money for the Childrens Miracle Network. * In addition to branch festivities, Eagle Community Credit Union has also instituted a policy of 0% interest on existing consumer loans for its members who are called to active military duty. The new policy represents a 6% reduction on the rate currently mandated by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. * Community Trust FCU is preparing a festive circus-like atmosphere and under the Big-Top members will enjoy clowns, cotton candy and even pick up a few juggling lessons. * In Fiji, credit union awareness will be the focus all week as credit unions host celebratory events, including membership drives and new product launches. In addition, the Fiji Nursing and Associates Credit Union will be introducing a computer loan and a micro-finance/small business loan campaign on the 18th. -mbourjolly@cutimes.com