CUNA Mutual Employees Pause To Celebrate USA

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More than 2,000 CUNA Mutual Group employees gathered last week to celebrate American values of diversity, equality and opportunity.

At the "Celebrate America" rally held in the atrium of the company's headquarters office, employees donned T-shirts adorned with the American flag and heard from the CUNA Mutual Choir and the Jefferson Middle School Band.

Complete with confetti and patriotic red, white and blue bunting displayed throughout the atrium, the program was broadcast live to other CUNA Mutual sites around the country by videoconference and streaming media.

Incoming CUNA Mutual Chairman Loretta Burd, president and CEO of Centra Credit Union, Columbus, Ind., addressed the audience, as did CUNA Mutual executives Larry Blanchard, Dan Meylink and CEO Mike Kitchen.

"We thought a large employee gathering like this would be a unifying way to acknowledge and celebrate the values and diversity that make America such a unique and wonderful place to live," said Blanchard, senior VP-corporate and legislative affairs, who served as emcee. "It also gave us an opportunity to recognize our own Mike Kitchen, who will receive a 2003 Ellis Island Medal of Honor this weekend in New York City."

A native of Canada, Kitchen became a U.S. citizen in November, 2002. Ellis Island Medals of Honor are presented annually by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations to recognize outstanding citizenship, individual achievement and encouragement of cultural unity.

More than 1,200 Celebrate America T-shirts were purchased in advance by employees for $5 each, with more than $6,000 in proceeds going to the United Way Credit Union Youth Services Partnership.

In addition, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #8216 in Middleton, Wisc., provided 80 American flags for the event, most of which lined the Credit Union Center campus along busy Mineral Point Road, on Madison's west side.

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