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Tis the Season for the Industry to Celebrate With this the last issue of the year for Credit Union Times, our staff contacted its sources to find out just how they plan to celebrate the holiday season. Some organizations hold lavish holiday parties, while others prefer smaller affairs. Of course, charity is a big emphasis for most. Here’s what we found. Mica Family Christmas Memory Reflects Life of a Congressman WASHINGTON-Serving in Congress, CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica split his time between D.C. and his district in West Palm Beach, where the Mica family preferred to spend the holidays. Mica typically flew home with extra suitcases loaded up with toys and gifts at Christmas time. One year when Congress was in session particularly late in the year, the Mica family arrived back home Christmas Eve night. Of course, by that time the Christmas trees had all been sold. However, in the never-ending resourcefulness of a parent and the spirit of Christmas, the Mica family cranked up the creative juices. They purchased a few sheets of green poster board, taped them together and drew ornaments on it. The `tree’ was then suspended from the ceiling in the living room with the presents strewn all over the floor below. The grown Mica children still talk about it today! Becker Recalls `A Christmas Story’ Kind of Holiday SPRINGFIELD, Va.-For NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker, last Christmas sticks out like a sore thumb-or leg-to him. Christmas 2004 was particularly memorable for Becker who took a tumble from a ladder while stringing Christmas lights on the roof of his house for his grown daughters. Dispatching with typical safety guidelines, no one was home at the time, he spent a while sprawled in the snow with a broken leg. “Ashley (Becker’s youngest daughter) got this idea she really wanted to decorate the house,” the NAFCU head related from a Christmas a few years back. Ashley was 12 then and is now 17. When daughter Laurie, then 22 and working toward an MBA at Emory, returned home, she could hardly believe her eyes. “Laurie drove up and started to cry because she had never seen it like that,” he explained. So last year, Becker attempted to elicit the same reaction. “As I was coming down, the ladder slipped out from under me,” he said. This year, Becker was a bit more careful in his decorating. White House Tours Among Fortney’s Fondest Holiday Memories WASHINGTON-NASCUS President and CEO Mary Martha Fortney said some of her best holiday memories center around her family trips to the White House. Fortney began taking the White House Christmas Candlelight Tours as a teenager with her family. Her mother, Fee Doherty, worked at the White House during Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. Fortney herself eventually worked at the White House during Jimmy Carter’s presidency as the director of agency liaison for the Office of Presidential Correspondence. “Attending the White House Christmas was a tradition shared by my entire family for over 35 years,” Fortney commented. “Each year was unique. Every first lady chose a different theme for that season. It was a very festive occasion.” Here she is pictured with her mother (left) holding Fortney’s oldest daughter, Laura in front of the White House Christmas Tree in 1968. “As we all got older and could better appreciate the meaning and spirit of Christmas, the White House Candlelight Tours became more and more special for our entire family. It was a treasured holiday tradition.” National Federation Employees Have Holiday Time Off – But Stay Close to Phones NEW YORK – The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions generally gears down during holiday time as a relatively high percentage of staff takes time off, but employees away from the office have to pledge to check their voice mail regularly and to be ready to address any urgent problems which sometimes rear their head towards the end of the year. “We generally give a lot of people the week between Christmas and New Years off,” explained Cliff Rosenthal, executive director of the Federation, “but we still have to be wary because we have occasionally had grant makers call us with last minute detail questions of grants that need to be closed. Also, for whatever reason, NCUA has in the past moved to close CDCUs at the end of the year leading to last minute urgent phone calls,” he added. CSCU Keeps an Understated Holiday ST PETERSBURG – Card Services For Credit Unions, the association of credit unions which process their card transactions with Certegy, keeps an understated holiday, according to Sue Chrzan, spokeswoman for the association. The association decorates generally lightly and hosts a reception every year for its venders and employees from Certegy from the area with which it works. The employees of CSCU also forego giving each other presents in favor of making a donation to Toys For Tots. Bash for All Marks CO-OP Network’s Holiday Celebration ONTARIO, Calif. – CO-OP Network opts for “mild” and “restrained” holiday decorations and a large holiday party to which all of the 200 plus staff are invited, according to Jim Hanisch, senior vice president for the CO-OP. “It’s always a challenge to find a space big enough for more than 200 people, but we always manage to pull it off,” Hanisch said. “We have a D.J, and a full buffet dinner,” he added. “It’s always very well attended.” Hanisch said that each department could decorate how it liked but that the unspoken policy of the firm has been to underplay the holiday and keep the decorations generally lower-key. There are no six-foot Christmas trees around, Hanisch said, but a few of the three-foot variety. He said the firm doesn’t generally give charity during the holidays and prefers instead to support the Children’s Miracle Network at other times of the year, he added. Charity Marks PSCU Holidays ST. PETERSBURG – PSCU Financial Services, the card services cooperative that serves over 500 credit unions that process their card transactions with First Data Corp., lets its departments handle their holiday celebrations differently but usually its centered on charity involvement, according to Merry Pateuk, spokeswoman for the cooperative. Pateuk noted, as an example, that some of the cooperative departments have made donations to Pinellas Village, a 120-unit apartment housing complex in Largo, Florida, for low-income, single-parent households. It provides on-site case management and child care with the goal of achieving economic independence for each family within five years. Other departments had given to Toys For Tots and other similar campaigns. Decorations are usually handled by each department as well, according to its taste, Pateuk explained. Empire Focuses on Charity ALBANY, N.Y. – Empire Corporate decided not to hold a large scale staff holiday party this year, mostly to save the costs associated with such a large event, and because the money could be better spent, and efforts could be better focused, on charity. The corporate’s Activities Committee (a team of staff members that volunteer to work on staff events of all sorts during the year), put on a “Winter Wonderland Holiday” staff celebration the week of December 5. Efforts included: * A charity bake sale; many staff members brought in their baked specialty and items were available for sale to other staff members. The proceeds from that (over $250) were donated to the Saratoga Center for the Family. *A staff raffle was held, and many items were donated by local businesses, to benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation. *A Holiday Trivia Contest was held and staff could enter their answers for a prize. *For the entire week, staff found on their desks every morning a surprise gift, with an e-mail explaining the significance of the item. For instance, one morning staffers received a dreidle, and the e-mail explained the history and rules of the game. *Empire also held a departmental decorating contest. Staff was challenged and competed with one another to decorate their areas with items they already had laying around or could create without spending money. On the last day of the Winter Wonderland Holiday celebration, Santa Joe Herbst (CEO) and his helper elves went around headquarters and judged each department’s decorating based on creativity and the like. It ended up being a four-way tie. Michigan OFIS Gets into Christmas Spirit with Annual “Giving Tree” Tradition LANSING, Mich. – Credit unions, leagues, CU trade associations and federal regulators aren’t the only ones that get into the Christmas spirit by getting involved in community activities or making donations to various organizations. State credit union regulators do their part too. The Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) does a yearly “Giving Tree” as part of its annual tradition. Giving Trees are set up throughout Lansing-area businesses, organizations, churches and schools by the St. Vincent Catholic Charities. Each tree is decorated with several cards with gift suggestions for children. The donor chooses a card, purchases the suggested gift, and returns the gift to the tree. The gifts are then distributed to the children that are served by St. Vincent’s. According to OFIS spokesperson Andy Schor, the agency places “angels” on a Giving Tree every year that it sets up in the lobby of its Lansing office. There are two price categories – $1-$10, and $10-$20. Schor said the Michigan OFIS has been doing this for about the past five years and typically receives 70-200 gifts each year. WesCorp Boards the Queen Mary to Celebrate SAN DIMAS, Calif. – How does the Queen Mary 2 sound for holding a holiday party? That’s exactly where WesCorp’s employees will be celebrating this year. The event will be held on the QE2 and include dinner, dancing and raffle prizes. WesCorp holds it in conjunction with shared branching firm FSCC, which also shares space in WesCorp’s headquarters building. Each of WesCorp’s six branches holds their own holiday parties. Its Seattle office recently did a snow train ride, where employees board a train that travels through the mountains. Charity is a big part of the season at WesCorp. It supports the Children’s Miracle network, with a holiday shopping campaign for gifts for needy children. WesCorp also does bake drives for troops overseas, and a number of other charity events. And yes when you walk into WesCorp’s headquarters, you do know it’s holiday time. There are decorations throughout the building and Christmas music is piped through the building. WesCorp Director of Training and Organizational Development said the corporate is very holiday friendly. PCUA Gets into Spirit of Giving at Holiday Season HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, like all leagues, credit unions and trade associations, doesn’t need the holiday season as a reason to give and participate in community initiatives. But the association and its employees kick their activities up at notch at this time of year. This year PCUA sponsored and participated in two initiatives. In the first one, it partnered with the Ronald McDonald House to collect household items and gift cards to be used by families staying at a local Ronald McDonald House while their loved ones were being treated at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. In addition, the PCUA Cards staff, under the leadership of Corinne Sherman, supplied meals for the entire house one day each week in December. In the second initiative, the Association under the leadership of Accounting Supervisor Tara Berdecia, partnered with WGAL-TV and the Salvation Army to sponsor a Coats for Kids telethon. The month-long drive to collect coats culminated with a 15-hour telethon at the TV station. The association donated its credit card machine and staff to take the credit card donations and paid the interchange fees so that all viewer donations went directly to the Salvation Army. Individual PCUA staffers also get into the spirit of giving of the holiday season. For example, Lori Plasic, a supervisor in the Cards Department, participates with her daughter in an annual Caroling for Cans program with the local Girl and Boy Scouts. Lastly, part-time PCUA receptionist Kathy Obrian led her church youth group’s efforts to send cards and go caroling at the homes of people in the community with limited mobility.

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