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Following Louisiana’s Hurricane Lili in October 2002, CUNA Vice President of Information Services Dave Klavitter was on the scene as the storm subsided. Klavitter was one of 14 public relations volunteers of more than 3,000 total volunteers for the American Red Cross, which was assisting in the clean up. It is unusual for some one with a full-time job to do this type of volunteer work, Klavitter said, noting that many of his colleagues were retired or college students. Prior to leaving Madison-where he was stationed with CUNA at the time-for Louisiana, Klavitter was already doing interviews with WIBA Radio, NBC-15, and Channel 3 News. During his time in Louisiana, he helped provide the public, including those affected by the hurricane, with up-to-date information about Red Cross’ efforts, ways to help, and types of assistance available to those affected. The team Klavitter worked with also coached other volunteers about media interviews. The public affairs volunteers also worked with a state senator’s office, the lieutenant governor’s office, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the Louisiana National Guard, he said. He and the rest of the public affairs volunteers devoted 14-16 hours each day, with one day off during the entire two weeks. Klavitter said he personally gave or coordinated over two-dozen electronic or print media interviews and numerous call-in radio shows. Based on his work, Klavitter’s team leaders helped promote him from technician to specialist, which put him in charge of two other technicians. Hurricane Lili was Klavitter’s first national assignment, though he had volunteered for his local chapter in Madison, Wis. so often (for local fires and other disasters) that he was honored with the Wisconsin Badger Chapter’s `Direct Impact Award’ in 2002 for more than 1,000 hours logged with the organization from 1999-2002. Since he has transferred to CUNA’s Washington, D.C. office a month ago, he has not gotten involved in Red Cross again, but plans to once he’s settled into the new job and city. “I could join the Lions Club or Rotary Club, but this suits my desire to give back in a different way,” Klavitter commented, who also served as a volunteer fire fighter when he lived for a year in Alaska. He said CUNA has been very supportive of his volunteer PR work.

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