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BEAVERTON, Ore. – What is it with Oregon and southwest Washington credit unions giving so generously to Credit Unions for Kids? “Remember this is where Credit Unions for Kids all started back in 1986 and I guess it’s kind of like `the perfect storm’ with three great children’s hospital units up here and dedicated credit union staff willing to work hard at fund raising,” explained Thomas Sargent, president/CEO of First Technology Credit Union, the leading U.S. booster of the Children’s Miracle Network program. Sargent, the national chairman-elect of the Salt Lake-based charity which began here with seven CUs and since adopted by CUNA in 45 states, said members and volunteers in Oregon/Washington CUs have always been supportive raising $6.2 million over the last 18 years. Apart from CEOs and boards all actively involved, “one thing we’ve done is to conduct frequent tours of the hospitals so members can see how their donations are being put to work,” explained Sargent. So this month the Credit Union Association of Oregon is touting its own accomplishment – a $1 million threshold raised for CMN over the year – a figure League officials said is significant “considering we only have 90 participating credit unions whereas Texas, also a big contributor, raises maybe couple hundred thousand more but has 600 to 800 credit unions.” Those kinds of bragging rights makes Oregon “the leader” in the nation for Credit Unions for Kids, said a CUAO spokesman. Moreover, last month-acting on its own – First Technology brought in a record $300,000 from a one-day baseball celebrity golf tournament, the most ever for CMN with the format now being copied at other CUs. “I guess we’ve made the annual golf tournament part of the culture,” declared Sargent. Now in its fifth year, the Hank & Moose Open, as it is known, is named after Hank Bauer, 82, and Moose Skowron, two retired New York Yankee ballplayers and 1950′s World Series stars, who fly in to Portland each year from their homes in Kansas City and Chicago for the First Tech tournament. “We really had a nice turnout this year of 260 participants and 50 celebrities,” said the tournament coordinator, JaReda Webb, who also is executive assistant to Sargent. The celebrity golfers include ex-ball players and sports figures from across the U.S. but the “sponsors” -the chief benefactors each putting up $1,000-$25,000 to play-include CEOs and industry vendors like Callahan & Associates of Washington. “It’s not just the golf tournament that helps us out but there are credit unions all around Portland, Longview, and Vancouver that pitch in all year round with bake sales, car washes and raffles that bring in the money,” said Sargent adding that the contributions go a long way toward CU “image building.” In news releases, the CUAO notes that funds raised for Credit Union for Kids through chapters, leagues and business partners is directed toward three children’s medical facilities: Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland and the pediatric units of Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene and Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford. “During the April 2003-April 2004 campaign year, we reached our five-year, $2.5 million fundraising goal to endow the Chief of Pediatrics Chair at Doernbecher, one year early,” said CUAO. “In recognition of our support of the chief of pediatrics, the endowment is identified, for perpetuity, as the Credit Union Chair. This is the first endowment of this kind.” In addition, CUAO said CUs are “working hard to complete a two-year campaign to raise $1.2 million to add four beds to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Doernbecher” to be known as the “Credit Unions for Kids PICU.” Scott Earl, the head of the “Credit Unions for Kids” charity for CMN in Salt Lake City and the former head of the Utah League of Credit Unions, said one reason northwest CUs perform so well in the program rests simply on the practical application of the `people helping people’ concept. “There simply is a great capacity for giving and caring,” said Earl who also credited Gene Poitras Jr. president/CEO of CUAO, with fostering the right kind of climate for charitable donations. Earl, who resigned that pressure-cooker Utah League job last November, said he thoroughly enjoys his CMN job. “You know dealing with legislators I could get pretty cynical, but here I get great satisfaction from seeing high powered CEO’s getting involved in fund raising and selling teddy bears,” observed Earl. “This is a whole different side of people that I get to see and I do enjoy it. It’s a nice shift for me.” -

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