TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The staff of Envision Credit Union, likemany others across the U.S., looked forward to having the three-dayLabor Day holiday off to relax with family and friends. But theyput their plans aside to help out in relief efforts for evacueesfrom Hurricane Katrina. On Sept. 3, the American Red Cross beganissuing cash vouchers to Katrina evacuees who had made it toTallahassee. The problem though was that the city's financialinstitutions, like many businesses, were going to be closed for thethree days. That's when Florida State Rep. Lorranne Ausley(D-Tallahassee), who was at the city's Red Cross office, turned toFlorida Credit Union League EVP Alette Shutes, a close friend ofhers, for help. Shutes in turn contacted FCUL President/CEO GuyHood who got in touch with Envision CU President/CEO Ray Cromer.The result was that Cromer agreed to open the CU's branch, locatedin one of Tallahassee's Super Wal-Mart stores, for four hours eachon Sunday and Monday for evacuees to bring their vouchers to andreceive cash that would allow them to handle incidentals andexpenses. Cromer explained that Envision's Super Wal-Mart branch,opened a year ago, was selected because of its geographicalproximity to the American Red Cross shelter nearby. "It was aquestion of them finding someone with enough facilities aroundTallahassee to make it easy for the evacuees to get to. Our SuperWal-Mart branch was close to two locations where evacuees werestaying - the downtown American Red Cross headquarters andprocessing center, and a church in the northeast section of town.In addition, by cashing their vouchers at our Super Wal-Martbranch, the people could then shop in the store for whatever theyneeded," Cromer said. The CU's Super Wal-Mart branch is usuallyopen on Saturday. On Sunday and Labor Day it opened for four hourseach day from 1-4 PM only for voucher handling. Envison says itassisted over 110 individuals and families from the Gulf Coast overthe holiday weekend. Recounting what Envision successfullyaccomplished Cromer said, "I was there the entire time both days tomeet people coming in and tried to engage them in conversation.These people had lost everything, but their spirit was so amazing.They were willing to accept what happened and get on with theirlives. Many said they never wanted to return to New Orleans orMississippi and preferred to stay in Tallahassee." Since the end ofthe Labor Day weekend, Cromer has advised the American Red Crossthat all of the CU's branches, including the five in Tallahassee,will handle the evacuees' vouchers. On Sept. 6, he said Envisiontook vouchers from an additional 200 families and individuals. "Ican't say enough about my crew, I get very emotional about it. Theyall told me helping these people out was the right thing to do andnot to worry about paying them for working over the Labor Dayholiday. None of these is have been possible without the spirit ofcooperation and teamwork from a number of our crew members whovolunteered to come in and open the office and render thisservice." -

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