Ohio CUL Takes To Sky With Message

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During the Ohio league's annual meeting here, league officials made sure attendees of the convention and the city were aware of America's credit unions.

"The biggest display was the flying billboards towed by planes over Columbus during lunch on Thursday and Friday," said league spokesperson Becky Hart. On one side read "America's Credit Unions. The other had OCUL's 800 number.

In addition, a 15-foot banner was hung in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, and the league distributed key cards and lanyards that carried the national brand campaign logo. Volunteers received pewter key tags with the same logo as special thanks for their efforts.

Other notes from the convention:

* Willard Hopkins of Hambuco Credit Union, Fairfield, Ohio, was honored as Volunteer of the Year for his 30 years of service to the industry. "We are only one generation away from keeping our accounts in a ledger book and the membership cards in a cigar box," Hopkins told the crowd during his acceptance speech. "Now, we are offering full financial services where you have access to your money 24 hours a day and you can check on your account on the Internet."

* Gary Soukenik, president of Seven Seventeen CU, was named Professional of the Year by the OCUL.

* Special guests of the convention included the chairman of Bulgaria's national association and four Bulgarian credit union officials. The league has signed a partnership agreement with Bulgaria's credit union movement. During the Bulgarians' six-day stay, they attended the conference and visited several credit unions in Columbus and Toledo.

"They left feeling very hopeful," said John Florian, COO of OCUL, explaining that Ohio's smallest credit unions are larger in asset size than any of the kasa's (credit unions) in Bulgaria. "They said if Ohio and U.S. credit unions can succeed this well, they can do the same."

* As part of its outreach efforts, the league's credit unions raised $50,000 in cash during a six-week statewide campaign for the Children's Miracle Network. "That's more money that Ohio credit unions have raised in the last two years combined," Hart said. "It's just a start but we are really thrilled."

In addition, CU staff donated 1,100 stuffed animals for the Ohio Troopers Coalition, which will be given to kids during times of crisis, such as vehicle accidents.

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