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Nom the Mom: Surprising Amber  by Tara


Welcome back to our Blog! We hope that you are enjoying reading about how we got to surprise our finalists because I certainly enjoyed meeting each of them on Friday, May 6th! Over the last few days, you’ve read what happened when I visited with finalists Dawn and Wendi. Now it’s time for the riveting conclusion to my adventure…

Last, but certainly not least, I needed to surprise the Nom the Mom winner, Amber. But this one was going to be a little bit tricky… 

The day prior, Amber’s husband Joe posted a vote on our Facebook wall. His message said, “I vote for Amber Nietert. She is sitting next to Brekin holding his hand in the hospital room in Iowa City as I type this right now and has no clue that this voting contest is even happening. Amazing Mother!” 

“Amazing Mother” is right! I was floored. I couldn’t believe that Amber had no idea about Nom the Mom, however, she had family, friends and co-workers galore voting for her religiously for the week prior. How did they manage to keep it all secret? 

Knowing that she was currently at the hospital with Brekin made me dig in a little deeper to make certain I would be able to properly surprise her. I learned that she would be at home with the boys the next day.

So Friday morning I found myself in front of Amber’s adorable home. In my right hand I held the City Looks basket and in my left I clutched a video camera, a file folder, a digital camera and the keys to my car. I must have looked odd as I bumbled my way to the door, repeatedly dropping my keys. Then it dawned on me – I was going to need to convince Amber to let me into her home when she literally had no idea about this contest. This could be awkward… 

I rang the door bell and a woman appeared along with a dog, which clearly had its owner’s best interest at heart. I smiled and said, “Hi there! Are you Amber??” 

“Yes…” she replied, friendly but unsure. 

The fact that I was holding a gorgeous basket probably helped. “I’m Tara from Linn Area Credit Union. Have you heard about our Nom the Mom contest?” 

She shook her head “no”. 

“Well you were selected as one of the 3 finalists! Do you mind if I come in and tell you a little bit more about it?” 

After putting her pup away, she invited me inside where I got to meet her two boys, Payson (4) and Brekin (2), for the first time. I wanted to get her full reaction to learning about the contest and the fact that she was chosen as the winner, so I asked her if it would be okay for me to video tape. She laughed and said that I had caught her cleaning and that she looked awful – but she was still okay with me taping her. 

Camera rolling, I explained the contest, the nomination process, the voting, and the fact that she had been selected by the community as the Nom the Mom winner taking in nearly 170 votes between the blog, Facebook and Twitter. Even on the tape it’s clear that she was in shock and just trying to take it all in.  (Click here to watch the video!)

As soon as I shut off the camera, she started to cry. I then told her about what her husband had posted on the Facebook page, which made us BOTH cry. She really was in complete shock that all of this had gone on unbeknownst to her. 

And then Amber exclaimed, “This all makes sense now!”  

Because she had been at the hospital with Brekin, she only had very limited access to Facebook and that was only on her mobile phone. She had noticed that all of her friends and family had “liked” Linn Area Credit Union. That was especially strange considering many of these very same people live a few of hours away. Amber promised herself that when she “had time to breathe” (her exact words – which I think is very telling of her situation) she would look into it further. 

It was such a pleasure meeting not only Amber, but her boys. And, let me tell you, they are definitely BOYS! They were getting such a kick out of showing me their trucks and plastic farm animals. At one point, Payson even built a ramp from the floor in order to route a truck up onto the couch. Genius! 

I have to give a quick shout out to her boys for taking a picture of their mommy and me together! The picture to the rght was actually captured by 2 year old Brekin. A little fuzzy, but it still makes me smile!

Amber’s Nom the Mom journey does not end here. We plan to join her for part of her Day of Beauty whenever she has a moment to not just breathe, but to relax. However, that moment may not be anytime soon, as Brekin has an open heart surgery coming up this summer. Please continue to keep this remarkable family in your thoughts and prayers. 

Well, friends, our very first social media contest was definitely a success! We are very grateful to City Looks for partnering with us to provide such a luxurious prize to an incredibly deserving mom. Additionally, we would like to give a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who nominated a mom, voted or who is just a fabulous mom themselves. 

So I hear Father’s Day is coming up… I think we’re going to have to come up with something a little special for Dad. What do you think??

Nom the Mom: Surprising Wendi  by Tara


Our Nom the Mom love fest isn’t over yet, friends! Yesterday you got the inside scoop on what happened when I met Dawn. 

Next stop, Wendi. 

Surprising Wendi wasn’t going to be quite as easy, considering she works at a large corporate building that has security guards. The up-side? She was nominated by a co-worker, whom I had already contacted and knew would be expecting me. Whew! 

I parked in a visitor spot and managed to bobble my way through gaining a visitor’s pass as I waited for nominator Laurie to come “pick me up”, if you will. We glided up to the top floor of the regal looking building and I was ushered into a pod of cubes to visit a very unsuspecting Wendi. 

Once she connected the dots, her first words were, “Oh no. I look terrible today!” 

She turned a little bit red and instantly diverted the attention by commenting on how beautiful the flowers were. 

I began congratulating her on being a runner up. Wendi quickly shied from the spotlight and start to ask questions about Dawn and Amber. When I told her that Amber had won, she instantly exclaimed, “That girl should be nominated for sainthood!” 

Since Wendi was being so modest, nominator Laurie piped up and began to tell me how Wendi was really surprised when she was told that she had been nominated for this contest. Wendi felt as though she wasn’t worthy – which clearly isn’t the case! Wendi chimed in, saying that it was definitely a surprise and she really felt very honored that Laurie would think of her for this. But the surprise turned to shock and awe when she discovered that she had been selected as one of the top 3 finalists.

“How did you feel when you read all the lovely comments people were writing about you?” I asked.

“Definitely flattered and, mostly, it left me speechless – which is pretty hard to achieve,” Wendi joked. Laurie vivaciously agreed with the second part of Wendi’s comment. 

Throughout our conversation, many of Wendi’s co-workers came over to give her a hug. Several of their names I recognized from the voting process, which just proved how much support Wendi has within her large group of caring co-workers. 

Do note that she wasn’t too happy that I wanted to take a picture of her, so she hid behind her floral arrangement. Nice try, Wendi! We still see you! 

From my brief time with Wendi, it was very obvious how selfless she is. Always thinking of other people first, which was something that was deeply echoed in her nomination story. We look forward to keeping in touch with Wendi over the years! 

So how do you follow two great surprises? Well, you go give a Day of Beauty to a very deserving mommy of two. 

Were you Team Wendi? Feel free to share your love in the comments below.

Nom the Mom: Surprising Dawn  by Tara


Our Nom the Mom contest was so fun and now we’re giving you a behind the scenes look at how we surprised each of the finalists. 

First up, Dawn. 

Dawn’s story touched so many people. The simple fact that her 12 year old son, Chandler, had nominated her blew most of the voters away. That takes a pretty special mom! Chandler let me know that Dawn was going to be at work on this particular morning, so that’s where I was going to be surprising her. 

I have to be honest, I was a little nervous walking into the retail shop. Would I recognize Dawn? What exactly was I going to say? How was she going to react??

I walked into the store, flower arrangement in hand – well both hands since it was rather big! Luckily for me, a quick scan to my right led me right to Dawn. Also, fortunate? She looked just like the picture Chandler submitted.  “Whew” on both accounts!  :) 

As soon as Dawn spotted me (which didn’t take long considering the flowers and my goofy grin), she gave me a warm smile. I introduced myself. Dawn was actually right smack in the middle of training a new employee on a cash register. I could tell that this is something she definitely was good at – very patient and sweet, but full of guidance. When she had a moment, she stepped to the side with me and I presented her with the arrangement of flowers and thanked her for being such a great mom. And that’s when I got the back story.

It turns out that Dawn came into our Blairs Ferry branch one day to do business as usual and she saw one of our posters explaining the contest. She thought it looked pretty cool and so she took one of the Nom the Mom slips of paper home. That night, she showed it to her son. He’s said, “What’s that?” and Dawn explained the contest to him. “Oh, cool.” And that was that. Or so she thought. 

Chandler actually took the ball and ran with it. Unbeknownst to Dawn, he wrote down her story and emailed it to me. However, he used HER email address since he doesn’t have one of his own. So when I replied to the email congratulating Chandler on his mom becoming a finalist, Dawn was actually the one who received it. And she was in complete shock! 

And that, my friends, is when Chandler became somewhat of her campaign manager. He used her email and her Facebook account to rally up the troops, calling on friends and family to vote for his fabulous mom. He told her that this was probably the best Mother’s Day gift that he could ever give her (what a sweetheart!). 

Now, as Dawn was giving me this back story, a co-worker of hers came up and gave her a hug. “And your son nominated you? Wow. I’d hate to hear what my kids would say about me!” 

Sure, it was funny – but also really true. Dawn has obviously had such a great and positive effect on her son that it spurred him to want to go that extra step to not only nominate her, but to take the lead on encouraging people to vote for her. 

Meeting Dawn was awesome and I certainly hope that she stays in contact with us in the future. 

Did you vote for Dawn? Feel free to share some more love in the comments below!

Nom the Mom: Behind the scenes  by Tara


Our first ever nom the Mom contest was such a blazing success! We owe everything to the people who nominated the phenomenal woman and to all of you who took the time to vote. I had the pleasure of meeting with each of the women on Friday, May 6th (right before Mother’s Day). I thought you would all be interested in the behind the scenes look at the time I spent with them. 

Prior to tallying up all the votes, we decided that each of the exceptional finalists deserved to be honored in some way. Since there was only one City Looks Day of Beauty to give away, we chose to contact a local flower company and have two beautiful arrangements designed for each of the runner up Moms. Earlier in the week I connected with each on the people who nominated the finalists to find out where each woman would be on Friday morning. My due diligence was about to pay off – for me and for the finalists! 

I woke up Friday morning giddy as school girl knowing that I was about to make three women really happy.  First, I loaded my car with the two gorgeous flower arrangements and the stunning basket that City Looks put together for the winning mom. I’m not going to lie, my car smelled amazing. I plugged in the first address into my Garmin (nicknamed Lady Garmin) and off I went on a goodwill adventure. 

My first stop? Surprising Dawn. 

To make this more fun, I’ll be telling the story a little bit at a time! Keep your eye on the blog next week, as we’ll be featuring all the behind the scenes action with Dawn, Wendi and Amber!

Our Very Own History Lesson  by Tara


Teacher Appreciation Week holds a special place in our heart at Linn Area Credit Union. Did you know that our story actually began thanks to teachers? Here’s a colorful snippet of how we came to be known as The Teachers’ Credit Union:

Nom the Mom Finalists!  by Tara


Wow, wow and WOW! That’s what I have to say about all the entries we received for our first ever Nom the Mom contest. So many deserving moms – I’m certainly glad that I don’t have to be the one to pick the winner! Nope, that’s up to YOU! :o) Before I reveal your top 3 finalists, let me share with you how they were selected. 

First, I asked for a volunteer committee of five Linn Area employees to each separately review each entry and then submit their top 3 moms to me. A BIG thank you goes out to Jessica (Finance), Stacey (Member Services Representative), April (Account Rep at our Marion office), Amy (Collections) and Matt (Mortgage)! I complied their votes and the top 3 moms emerged to become your finalists in the Nom the Mom contest! I do want to share with you that this was a mighty tough decision and, in the words of our male committee member, “I think they are all quite deserving!  Now I’m going to go find some Kleenex.  Darn allergies!” 

And here they are… *Drum roll, please!!!!!!*


The Mom: Wendi Otte

Nominated by: Laurie (co-worker & friend)

I am not a person of many words and I am not good at fluff filled amazing stories,  so please bear with me as I nominate a very deserving candidate for your nom the mom promotion. 

My nominee is Wendi Otte, no she hasn’t discovered the cure for cancer, although I believe she is quite capable of doing so, but she is the most thoughtful selfless person I know.  She has had a very trying year and is still smiling!!!  

She is a mother of two beautiful girls ages 6 and 4 and she works full time. Despite her busy work schedule she always finds time to volunteer at their school events and outings in order to spend more time with them.  Many evenings after a drama filled day she manages to go home and snuggle, the girls love curling up with their mom.  It is a joy every morning to listen to the Wendi talk about what the girls did the night before, good or bad, she always has a sparkle in her eyes when she is talking about them. 

 This past year Wendi suffered two great losses, her step father passed away and shortly thereafter she experienced the loss of an unborn child.   As one would suspect the girls were her prime concern and she did a wonderful job of helping the girls understand that their baby was now an angel sent to heaven to keep grandpa and others company.   The girls have quite an imagination and Wendi is a wonderful mom who encourages that imagination by listening to their thoughts and feeling about their little angel.  

Wendi is a giver to all who cross her path, she was a great leader of a team that helped clean up after the 2008 floods, if you need an ear she listens without judging, she is the first in line to offer support when life throws you a curve ball and she does all of this unconditionally.  

I am nominating her because she thinks about everyone but herself and she deserves a little pampering (ok a lot of pampering). 


The Mom: Amber Nietert

Nominated by: Kori (friend)

Amber is an amazing wife, mother, friend and teacher.  Amber teaches 1st grade at Springville Elementary.  She has been a teacher since 2004.  I met Amber when my son was in her Kindergarten class at Springville.  We immediately fell in love with her.  She has the ability to make everyone in the room feel important.  Amber is patient and kind.  You do not have to know her well to see that she is genuine and has a passion for life and children. 

Amber has a wonderful husband Joe, and together they are proud parents of Payson, 4 and Brekin, 2.  At 20 weeks pregnant with Brekin, Amber and Joe were told that their unborn baby had multiple heart defects.   The first is Double Outlet Right Ventricle. This means the 2 main arteries (Pulmonary and Aorta) both go to the right, instead of one going right and one going left. The next thing is Transposition of the Ventricles. This means that the right and left ventricles developed opposite. The left ventricle is on the right side, and the right ventricle is on the left side. The “right” ventricle is also smaller than it should be. The last defect is a large VSD, or hole in Brekin’s heart.  On May 22, 2008 Brekin Joseph was born via scheduled C-section.  Brekin has had 1 open heart surgery so far along with grueling heart checks about every 6 months.  He has amazed family and friends with his strength.  This journey is far from over for this little boy and his family as he will continue to have surgeries throughout his life.  I believe that the reason Brekin is so strong is because he has a mother who is positive and strong! 

 Throughout Amber is a pillar of strength for her family.  She provides updates on care pages and is involved in heart walks and other activities with other heart families.  Amber would do anything for anyone who needed anything at all.  She goes above and beyond everyday in her love for her boys.                                                                                                           

I have the pleasure of being Amber’s friend and have seen how the events in her life have shaped her faith and hope.  She has so much love her family and the people around her.  Amber is so appreciative of all the support she has, she exudes gratitude.   She is truly amazing and so deserving.  Obviously her life events leave little time for pampering for herself.  Amber is a most deserving winner of a day of pampering.



The Mom: Dawn McDaniel

Nominated by: Chandler (son, age 12)

My mom is wonderful. We moved to iowa from florida when my grampa died to live with my gramma to help her out on her farm. She has had a very hard time this year. In March she had back surgery because she had a disc in her back that was hurting the nerve down her leg really bad – so bad she could hardly walk. She still went to work everyday even though she hurt so bad. After her surgery she was still very sore but made sure that she made us supper every night and then when she went back to work she was still hurting really bad. but she still gets up,makes my dads lunch, goes to work, comes home and makes supper.

Then my gramma had a surgery on her foot and can’t get up to do anything and my mom makes sure she has a cooler and food by the couch every day before she leaves for work and also does all the chores on the farm for gramma. She also now has another surgery coming up to find out if she may have cancer. I’m really worried that all of this is too much for her. But she is strong and sometimes she can hardly get up in the morning but she knows she has to make sure everyone has everything they need. Even though she is in so much pain she makes sure we all get everything we need. 

I feel bad because there isn’t anything I can do for her pain and I try to help her as much as possible. i feel she needs a day to herself where someone else takes care of her for a change. She needs a break. She used to go get her nails done all the time but now she feels she doesnt have the time for it, andi know she liked it, because it was something nice for her. If she wins this contest i think it will make her so happy.


Now it’s YOUR turn! We need you to VOTE for the mom you think is the most deserving of the  City Looks Day of Beauty prize. 

3 Ways to Vote:

  1. Blog: Leave a comment on this blog post telling us the name of the mom you are voting for and why. (Psst… to vote this way, you have to give us your name and an email addy – but no worries! Your email address will not be displayed on the comment and we won’t email you!)
  2. Facebook Page: Leave a comment on our Facebook page (here) – you guessed it! – telling us the name of the mom you are voting for and why!
  3. Twitter: Tweet the name of mom you want to win – but sure to use @LinnAreaCU in your tweet so we can record your vote!

Only one vote, per day, per person, per social media method, please! (So you can vote once a day on EACH the blog, Facebook AND Twitter, if you’d like!) 

Voting goes until 5:00pm CST on Thursday, May 5th. The Nom the Mom winner will be announced right here on our blog on Friday, May 6th – just in time for Mother’s Day! 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at!

Let the voting begin!!! 

The Winner of the Family Movie Night Package Is…  by Tara


And the winner of the fabulous Family Movie Night Package, featuring a 40” Toshiba television is…. Nicole Maas! 

I had the pleasure of meeting Nicole when she came into the beautiful Edgewood branch to pick up her fabulous TV and the prize basket that went along with it. I could immediately tell how excited she was! As we got to talking, Nicole shared with me that she had never won anything before. Nothing, nada, ziltch. 

Nicole, a member of Linn Area Credit Union since 1999, stopped by the Edgewood branch to take a peek around our new digs and to conduct her normal weekly business. On a whim, she decided to throw her name into the box-o-fun (a.k.a. the entry box).  You know what they say – “you can’t win if you don’t play”! 

When Nicole received the phone call telling her that she had won this fabulous grand prize, she was standing in the parking lot at her work. She instantly began jumping up and down, screaming like a crazy person (her words – not mine!). Not that she was excited or anything. ;o) 

At home, Nicole has two daughters, ages 13 and 14, who are already trying to convince their mom that they need to have the TV put into their room. Not likely, says Nicole. (I like her spunk!) Instead, the new TV was going to be put into the living room for the whole family to enjoy together. First show they planned to watch? American Idol. (Good answer!) 

Well, Nicole, on behalf of your family at Linn Area Credit Union, CONGRATULATIONS! We hope that the Family Movie Night Package brings your family lots of joy. Thanks again for coming to the new Edgewood branch and, most of all, for being part of the Linn Area family!

Contest: Nom the Mom!  by Tara


We love Moms. Seriously, we think they are awesomesauce! But they are overworked and underpaid, in most cases. (I believe I hear a chorus of hard-working Moms cheering “YEAH!” in the background.) So this year, the Linn Area Credit Union family decided it was time to honor one lucky and well-deserving Mom. We partnered with City Looks Salon & Spa (ohhhh… ahhhh!) to come up with a swoon-worthy Day of Beauty package. 

This downright luxurious prize package includes a Spa Facial or 50 minute Full Body Massage, plus a Spa Manicure and Spa Pedicure, Hair Style and Makeup application along with a beautiful basket full of Aveda Bath & Body products! This package is valued at $300! 

What Mom wouldn’t want to win that?! 

What we need from YOU guys out there is some nominations! We want to hear all about the special mamacitas in your life. Maybe it’s your mom, your wife (how sweet!), your sister, your nana, your BFF, your co-worker – anyone who is part of your life and also a deserving mom can be nominated (excluding Linn Area Credit Union employees – sorry, ladies!).  (Go to for all the details and rules!)

How can you nominate a mom? Why, you have a plethora of options! 

  • Tell us in 500 words or less why she deserves to get pampered. You can do this in a story, poem, sonnet – whatever trips your trigger.
  • Writing not your thing? We’ll also happily consider video nominations – talking, singing, interpretive dance, live footage. Just keep the videos under 3 minutes, please!

Don’t forget that creativity goes a looooong way! 

However you decide to nominate, make sure to send your submission to me at (do NOT post your submission to the blog, Facebook or anywhere else – they must come to me, the Master of “Nom the Mom”) before midnight on Sunday, April 24th. Hey, we have to cut it off at some point!

Linn Area Credit Union will select our top 3 candidates and then allow area residents to vote on who they think should win the prize of pampering!

Click here or go to for all the details and rules! 

Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments on the blog, Facebook or on Twitter

Now get nominating – that special mom in your life DESERVES it!!!

FREE Shred Event!  by Tara


This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but this happens to be Money Smart Week across the nation. It’s a time where the community collaborates with local financially minded businesses to, well, teach some money smarts. 

As part of Money Smart Week, Document Destruction & Recycling will be hosting a Free Document Shredding event THIS SATURDAY (April 9th) from 9 a.m. – noon at their building, located at 4250 6th St. SW right here in Cedar Rapids! 

Folks, this FREE community event is the perfect time to get rid of all those credit card applications that have been mailed to you, old checks, financial records you haven’t looked at in over 10 years, pay stubs from years ago, and any other sensitive information you wouldn’t want to risk having someone find in the garbage. You can bring up to five bags or boxes and Document Destruction & Recycling will happily make sure they are safely destroyed.

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of properly discarding confidential documents and safeguarding your personal information! Please take advantage of this FREE community event this Saturday. 

Don’t forget to share the love by sending this blog post onto your friends and family!

We Put the “Fun” into Fundraising  by Matt


Giving back to the community is a pretty big deal here at Linn Area. For the 8th year in a row, we organized teams to participate in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kid’s Sake fundraiser.

For those of you unfamiliar with how this works, employees volunteer to bowl, each agreeing to raise a minimum amount to cover admission. In addition to the money raised through the bowlers, we (meaning me along with my fellow bloggers  Nick and Mallory) are the chefs for several very popular breakfast fundraisers. We served our world-class pancakes, sausages  and this year we even added omelets made to order (in the form of scrambled eggs with cheese on them…) to the menu!

Ready for our final results? We had 22 bowlers raise a total of $2,343! The average bowler increased their contributions from $83.13 last year to a whopping $106.50! We did great this year, and made a strong contribution to the fundraising goals of Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

On behalf of the team of organizers, I’d like to give a big THANK YOU to everyone that was involved in this fundraiser over the last 3 months (although it may have seemed like longer to those within LACU who kept receiving my emails about it!). From the volunteers who bowled to those who participated in the breakfasts or donated to fellow employees, THANK YOU!

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