Foundation Still Seeking Recipients For 9/11 Funds

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With the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks looming, the New York CU Foundation board had a teleconference late last week to make what are hoped to be final decisions about what to do with the more $1.3-million raised by the credit union family for CU victims of the attacks.

Meanwhile, at credit unions and associations across the country, plans have been made to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary in a variety of ways, nearly all low-key.

"The ballpark figure is just over $1.3 million, all of which came from 1,400 different donors all from the credit union family," said Frank Kerbein, executive director of NYCUF. "Because we had never seen anything like this before, we didn't set any goals or targets (for how much money to raise in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy). We were overwhelmed by the response."

The foundation has already made a few disbursements, the first was back on Sept. 14 to the Twin Towers Fund. Others have been made for things like counseling services for CU employees affected by the attacks.

"We know that those 1,400 different donors all had one thing in mind: to help credit union people who were directly affected by the attacks. One hundred percent of the money raised will be used for that purpose only," Kerbein noted. "We are not necessarily putting any deadline on when we have to make all the disbursements because we are considering ongoing grants like scholarship funds for the children of those who perished on Sept. 11, so we could be making disbursements for years to come. We are trying to be very aggressive in finding (victims' families). But they are coming forward very slowly. We didn't realize there would be such a reluctance on their parts to come forward. We are working through the state's credit unions to try to identify people eligible for this funding."

Meanwhile, the New York league said it will be marking the day "quietly, among ourselves." Although the league is based in Albany, members of its staff were gathered at an educational session at Municipal Credit Union directly across the street from the World Trade Center on the morning of the attacks. There will be a brief ceremony at which staff will gather near a weeping birch tree that was planted and a plaque that was erected at the league's headquarters, at which league CEO Bill Mellin will offer remarks.

Elsewhere around the country:

* Susan Looney, VP-human resources at the Texas league, said, "All league employees will wear red, white and blue. We're putting a big-screen TV in the boardroom, and we'll be showing the various broadcasts on it throughout the day. We want to observe it, but we also want it to be low-key...and give our employees the opportunity to show their respects."

* Lori Bahnmueller, spokesperson for the Michigan league, said officials there wanted to respect the privacy of individuals during this very "personal'" anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

In Livonia, Mich., Co-op Services Credit Union will distribute pins for staff and members to wear on September 11. The pin includes the American flag, the New York City skyline with the Twin Towers and the date of 9/11/01.

* The Indiana league plans to show its support with a patriotic theme during its annual convention to be held on Sept. 15. "Last year, our convention was two days after the planes crashed," said Kay Neidlinger, ICUL PR director.

* The Illinois CU System said employees would be asked to wear patriotic colors. Following a 9 a.m. moment of silence, the song, "God Bless America'" will be piped into the public announcement system, during which all phone calls would be diverted into voice mail.

ICUS President Daniel Plauda said employees are also being invited to watch a videotape, "America: A Tribute to Heroes," at 2 p.m.

* Becky Hart of the Ohio league said that in addition to CUNA's suggested tribute, credit unions throughout the state have their own special events planned. For example, Bay Area Credit Union, Oregon, Ohio, will hold a photo and drawing contest for its young members. The theme is "What Freedom Means To Me."

Greater Cleveland Firefighters CU planned to post the names of all the individuals who lost their lives in its lobby, which will be decorated in patriotic d?cor. Members will receive flags and pins.

* The California/Nevada league opted not to cancel a board meeting previously scheduled for Sept. 11. League spokesman Mark Lowe said the board decided to go through with the meeting after "careful consideration." In an e- mail to staff, league CEO Dave Chatfield said, "Our country's founding fathers envisioned a country with a free and bright future. They met during difficult times to fortify a country's purpose, standards and values. We will do the same."

Lowe said the board will observe a moment of silence before the meeting, and all members of the league's staff can create patriotic or other symbolic displays in their work areas.

The Washington CU League's annual meeting will begin this week on Sept. 11. "We will start the meeting with a slideshow that was made by a New York-area songwriter who gave us permission to use his song," said Education and Development Director Scott Pope. "If people want to see the slideshow, it is at www.5000heroes.com."

Following the slideshow will be a presentation of flags by Spokane-area firefighters, as well as a musical salute by bagpipers, he said.

"The speakers that day will address the theme, 'It's not what happens to you, but what you do about it,'" said Pope.

At the Colorado league, Senior VP Nancy Bunte said it will observe a moment of silence and will announce plans to participate in a blood drive. "We are encouraging our staff to...give back to the community," she said.

The Oregon CU Association also will observe a moment of silence at noon Pacific Time.

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