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HARRISBURG, Pa. – In response to what are sure to be the long term needs of survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf states, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation jointly adopted a unanimously-approved resolution to extend assistance to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. According to the resolution, PCUA will provide leadership in designing and coordinating a Pennsylvania credit union movement-wide program to send volunteers to provide direct relief to Katrina-affected areas in partnership with their local chapters of the American Red Cross. PCUA will also be encouraging CUs to volunteer staff to the Red Cross Hurricane Katrina effort for a three-week commitment while paying their salary and benefits. The Foundation’s Executive Director Joe Wambach will serve as coordinator for the state effort, but he emphasized that, “I do not deserve the spotlight. That belongs to PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack, Chairman Norb Kaczmarek, and Foundation Chairman Ron Lasich who came up with the original idea.” Wambach sent a letter with details about the program to all PCUA-affiliated credit unions on Sept. 20, and he explained that credit unions are being instructed to work through their local Red Cross chapter – there are close to 40 chapters throughout Pennsylvania with the central one being the Susquehanna Chapter that covers seven counties (there are 62 counties in Pennsylvania). Volunteers will be required to complete a volunteer application with the Red Cross that among other questions and information, requires all volunteers to attest to their own good health. Wambach stressed that “the volunteers have to understand the health risks associated with this type of volunteer work.” He also emphasized that it will be up to each Red Cross chapter to decide where volunteers will be sent, “but we’ve asked the Red Cross to let us know where they’re going once it’s decided and for credit unions to debrief these folks when they return.” “We’re trying to define this as being a broad policy and the volunteers are free to go anytime they want,” said Wambach noting that he learned that at press time several CU volunteers were ready to leave within the next several days. He added though that, “Our preference is since the Red Cross won’t have orientation sessions until October, the volunteers should wait. We’re not discouraging anyone from going now, but they way want to choose to go in a couple of months instead of right away. This is not a short term situation, the relief effort will be long term.” Wambach further added that while credit unions might be closer to a particular Red Cross chapter, “we are requesting that credit unions go to more than one chapter because we know some chapters are further along in their volunteer efforts and so some chapters may need more volunteers than others.” With so much attention focused on on-site Red Cross relief efforts in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, Wambach said it’s just as important for credit unions to remember that the Red Cross also needs assistance at the local level “because they’re being swamped with calls from donors with questions.” In addition, he’s aware of assistance the Red Cross chapter in Pittsburgh needs in loading supplies on trucks destined for the Gulf states. “We’re asking credit unions to support volunteering at both the local and Gulf state levels,” Wambach said. “Our statewide Katrina volunteer program is an exciting departure from anything we’ve ever done before, but such an extraordinary disaster in our country requires an extraordinary effort,” said Wambach. -

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