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Contest: My First Ride  by Tara


Congratulations, loyal Linn Area fans! You made it through one of the hottest weeks we’ve ever had! We think it’s time to focus on something besides the heat wave!

To celebrate this summer’s amazing auto rates and the vehicles we LOVE, we want to hear all about YOUR very first car! Come on, I’m sure I’m not the only one that has some pretty fond memories of my first ride. Was yours a piece of junk like mine or were you one of the lucky ones that was gifted a brand new, shiny car?? 

We know you’d love to reminisce about that first car just for fun…  so we’re going to start a contest to make it worth your time! Just by telling us a fun story about that very first car of yours, you could win a $200 gift card (there are prizes for the runners up, too)! Check out all the deets on our “My First Ride” contest: 

How to Enter:

• To enter, email a fun story about your first car (500 words or less, please!). Don’t forget to tell us the make and model of the car. Oh, and HOW did you pay for it?? Of course, we’d LOVE to hear that you got your loan through Linn Area!) We will also consider video entries that are 3 minutes or less. The more creative, the better!

• Make sure to attach a picture of the car (if you don’t have one because your car went kaput before you ever had a picture taken, try to find one similar out on the internet!)

• All entries must be emailed to With your submission, be sure to include all of your contact information. You’ll receive an email back letting you know that we’ve received your entry.

• DO NOT submit your entry on Facebook.

• All entries must be received by no later than midnight on Sunday, August 7th

• On Tuesday, August 9th, the top 3 submissions (as selected by Linn Area Credit Union) will be announced on our blog, Facebook and Twitter.

• Area residents will then be able to begin voting for their favorite story immediately on our blog! The entry that receives the most votes will win the grand prize of $200 (2nd place receives $50 and 3rd place receives $25).

• The winning entry will be announced on our blog on Monday, August 15th.


The Rules:

• Entries received after midnight on Sunday, August 7th will not be considered (only one entry per person).

• All people that enter must live in Linn or surrounding counties.

• You do not have to be a member of Linn Area Credit Union to enter.

• Linn Area Credit Union employees and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings, spouses) are not eligible to enter.

• No purchase necessary.

• By submitting an entry, you are giving permission for Linn Area Credit Union to use your name, picture and submission for promotional and advertising purposes.

Nom the Mom: Day of Beauty  by Tara


The woman you chose as your Nom the Mom winner, Amber Nietert , finally got her chance to get pampered. Since so many of you got out there to vote, we thought that you’d like the follow up on Amber, her family and her City Looks Day of Beauty. 

If you’ll remember, Amber is the mom of two little boys. One of the boys, Brekin, has a heart condition. (For the full story, go here or to see how we surprised Amber, check out the video at the very bottom of this post!) He had another surgery in mid-June and I’m proud to report that he is doing exceptionally well! In fact, his doctor has officially cleared him to run, jump and even swim – all those things that little boys LOVE to do! (Amber said that it’s so hard to tell your 3 year old son that he can’t ride his bike when he so desperately wants to!) 

Now that Brekin is on the mend, Amber finally had a chance to focus on herself for one day. On Friday, I met Amber at the Westdale location of City Looks for her Day of Beauty. She was extremely excited! To make things even better, that particular evening she and her husband, Joe, were heading out on the town to celebrate their 6 year anniversary. Perfect timing! 

The day started off with a relaxing facial, something Amber had never tried before and absolutely adored! Next, the girls at City Looks turned their focus to Amber’s fingers and toes, giving her a fabulous manicure AND pedicure (Heaven!). After her mootsies (yeah, I made that word up) and tootsies were perfectly polished, the City Looks team turned their attention to Amber’s hair. One tiny French braid and lots of curls later, our Nom the Mom winner was ready for the last leg of her pampering experience – make up! And, let me tell you, she looked awesome! Sure, she was gorgeous before, but after a day of beauty at City Looks, Amber was simply “WOWZA”!!! 

Go here to see all the pictures of Amber’s big day of beauty.

When we chatted after it was all done, Amber said that she almost didn’t want the Day of Beauty to end! (Well, who could blame her?!) But she was definitely looking forward to hitting the town with Joe.

Thanks again to Amber and to the lovely people at City Looks for making this happen! 

So now how are we going to top this next year…?!?!?!

Get your glow on!  by Tara


We are big believers in family traditions. Every year we share one of our favorite Linn Area family traditions with our community – the Balloon Glow. This well-known event is part of Freedom Festival (it’s our favorite part, but we’re a little biased!). Heck, nearly 14,000 people enjoyed it last year alone! 

For the 13th year in a row, we are the sponsors of this FREE family evening. Do note that it’s only FREE with your Freedom Festival button – although kids 5 and under do not need to have a button. Balloon Glow will be held this Tuesday, June 28th at Brucemore. Gates open at 6:00 pm. Additional details can be found here (parking, shuttle buses, etc.). 

To say that this event “is for young and old alike” may sound super cheesy, but it’s the honest to goodness truth! I remember going on one of my first dates with my now husband to Balloon Glow! I packed us a picnic basket full of yummy treats and some choice beverages and away we went for a lovely evening of music and picturesque views. 

And I can’t even explain to you how much the kids LOVE this event. Whether it’s running up for their 5th Linn Area hot air balloon tattoo, grooving along to the music or ohh-ing and aww-ing over the hot air balloons, kids totally dig this family night out. 

This year you’ll be entertained by the funktastic sounds of the FunkDaddies. I couldn’t resist checking out their website, which led me to their song list. From The Commodore’s classic hit “Brick House” to “Smooth” by Santana, their grooves offer a little somethin’ somethin’ for everyone out there! (I’m personally dying to know what “The Chicken” sounds like!) See if your favorite song is on the list here or check out one of their videos here

Don’t forget to say hi to all the familiar Linn Area faces as you come in through the entrances! We’ll be the ones putting the hot air balloon tattoos on all willing participants! Around 40 of us will be there that night – even some of our very own family members will be lending a hand, as well! 

Oh, and keep your eyes open for me, Tara, as I’ll be the extremely pregnant one wandering around asking if I can take your family’s pic for our Facebook page! :o) Make sure you say hello and get your picture taken! 

What’s your favorite Balloon Glow Memory? Tell us below!

And the winner of our Father’s Day contest is…  by Tara


We are very pleased to have randomly selected the winner of our Father’s Day Contest! Before we announce who won the $200 Atira gift card, we’d like to say THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to tell us about their fathers!  We received so many entries and certainly enjoyed reading all about the rock star dads that were nominated for this contest. Unfortunately, there could only be ONE winner. Everyone that entered the contest was placed into the drawing.

Last night the VP of Human Resources at Linn Area Credit Union drew the winning name – which was Brian Johnson’s entry about his inspiring father, Rob Johnson. (It should be noted that he was also nominated by another of his sons, Lee!) 

Rob and his son Brian just stopped by the Blairs Ferry branch to pick up his Father’s Day prize. It was so fun chatting with them! I found out that Rob and his wife, Diane, have been part of the Linn Area family for nearly 30 years (which definitely wasn’t a requirement for this contest – it just worked out this way!). All three of their sons (Brian, Lee, and Luke) followed in their footsteps, beginning with Kirby Kangaroo accounts and have continued bringing their business to us. 

In fact, on the drive over, he and Brian were having a laugh over memories of the Kirby days. Rob’s rule was that whatever money the kids got, they could spend half, but the other half had to go straight into their Kirby account. Brian said that learning this early on actually transferred into his adult life. 

Rob was ridiculously flattered that he was nominated by his sons. I think the fact that two of his adult sons took the time to very thoughtfully write about how inspirational he’s been says a lot about what a great dad he is. (See their entries below.) 

How will he spend his big gift card? He’s taking a big trip in the fall to Colorado and will most likely use the money to do something fun there! (Excellent choice!) 

A big CONGRATULATIONS goes out to Rob! Not a bad way to kick off Father’s Day! :) (Below are the original entries by both Brian and Lee!)

Brian: I thank my father for inspiring my love of many things – including cycling. It is amazing to have him join me through part of RAGBRAI. He is supportive in all my activities throughout life and been powerful model of how to live my life.  Seeing this photo always makes me smile. This one’s for you Dad.


Lee: My father, Rob Johnson, is one of the most caring, positive and empathetic individuals imaginable.  Besides unquestionably supporting our family Rob started Lamba, The Linn Area Mountain Bike Association –, to freely share his zest for existence with all Iowans.  Through education and countless hours of volunteer work this man has single handedly promoted optimism and creativity to worlds of students, strangers, and friends.

Father’s Day Contest!  by Tara


With Father’s Day just around the corner we are ready to celebrate those goofy gents in our lives. That’s right – the spotlight has now shifted to you, proud papas! Hey, we’re all about family at Linn Area Credit Union so we couldn’t let this momentous day slip past us!

This contest is going to be rather simple – just post a picture of your favorite dad (your dad, your grandpa, your honey, your neighbor, your co-worker) and tell us in one or two sentences why he’s the best! The winning dad will get a $200 Atira gift card to spend however he chooses!

Enter one of three ways:

1) Go to our Facebook page (here) and upload a picture of your favorite dad. Be sure to tell us why he is the best when you upload the pic!

2) Upload a pic of your fave dad to your Twitter account and include @LinnAreaCU when telling us why he rocks!

3) Email the picture of your favorite father to along with a few words as to why this papa is simply the best. (You will receive an email back to confirm we’ve received the picture.)

The rules:

1) One entry per person. (Although one dad can be entered by more than one person. See rule #2.)

2) There can be no duplicates of pictures, even if they come from different people.

3) Pictures must be appropriate or they will be disqualified.

4) The dad that is entered MUST live in Linn or surrounding counties.

5) You do not have to be a member of Linn Area Credit Union to enter or to win.

6) Linn Area employees and their immediate families are not eligible to win, but they are still welcome to post pictures!

7) All entries must be received no later than 5:00pm on Thursday, June 16th.

8) Once an entry is submitted, the submitters name will be written down and placed into a drawing.

9) The winning entry submitter will be contacted on Thursday, June 16th to get contact info for the winning dad. The winner of the drawing will be notified in the same way they submitted their entry (eg. If you submitted via Facebook, you’ll be contacted via Facebook message. If you submit by email, you will be contacted by email.). Once contacted, we must hear back from the entry submitter by noon on Friday, June 17th. If we have not heard from the submitter by that time, a new winner will be drawn.

10) As soon as a winner is verified, we will announce it on the blog!

11) No purchase necessary.

Now go find those fun pictures of your favorite dad and get to posting!!!

Kicking Off Summer!  by Tara


Summer is crazy busy for families, and it’s no different for your Linn Area Credit Union family! Our motto “We Are Family” is very telling of the types of events that we have lined up for the blazing hot summer of 2011! We’ll keep you guys updated on these family friendly events right here on the blog, Facebook and Twitter – so keep your eyes peeled! 

Now we KNOW that most of you have seen our colorful Linn Area Credit Union hot air balloon either soaring in the sky or as part of the Balloon Glow at Brucemore. But did you know that our balloon is also part of Tanager Place’s Summer Fest? Indeed, it is! 

Kick off your summer with a FREE family festival for Tanager Place. Join in the fun TOMORROW (Saturday, June 4th) at the 21st annual Summer Fest located at the Rockwell Collins Sports Complex (F Avenue and Collins Road NE) from 3:30 to 8:30 pm. 

This event is so much fun for the whole family! With over 75 FREE activities, there’s something for everyone! Go to the General Mills Make your Own Cereal Tent or swing over to the Video Gaming Area to try your hand at some cool video games. Don’t forget to play a little mini-golf or check out all of the really cool collector cars! There is even an entire tent dedicated to kids’ crafts! 

Saving the best for last (or so WE like to think!), the event concludes with a balloon glow. We’d LOVE it if you scoped out the Linn Area balloon and got your picture taken by it! Feel free to send the picture to us or post it to our Facebook page! 

Keep your eyes open for some familiar Linn Area Credit Union faces, as many of us will be volunteering that day! We hope to see you there as we help kick off the summer of 2011!

Congrats to Ms. Rasmussen!  by Tara


Last month for Teacher Appreciation Week, Linn Area Credit Union sponsored a celebration for teachers at the Teacher Store. Shoppers had the opportunity to sign up to win a party for their classroom or school. This year’s lucky winner was Becky Rasmussen, a special education teacher from Kenwood Elementary! 

Linn Area lets the winning teacher choose what type of party to have. In the past, we’ve provided ice cream parties and popsicles for the whole school, but Ms. Rasmussen went a different route. This morning, fourteen kids loaded the bus from Kenwood and were shuttled to one of the most fun places in Cedar Rapids – the PlayStation! 

I had the pleasure of joining our Business Development Manager, Lori Vana, to visit this rocking party and, boy, did it ever look like these kids were having fun! Excitement was in the air as the kids agilely navigated the enormous indoor jungle gym. My favorite part? The ball pit. Some kids were taking turns covering each other up. Other kids turned their focus to sailing down one of the many fun and squiggly slides. 

We left as lunch was served. These kiddos were dining on some tasty chips and chicken nuggets with a dash of pop to wash it all down. Everyone looked like they were having a blast, including Ms. Rasmussen who wasn’t shy about crawling around the jungle gym with the kids. 

A big congratulations to Ms. Rasmussen! We know that teachers have a tough job, so we truly appreciate all that you do! Thanks for letting us be part of your fun party!

To see more pictures from the party, go to our Facebook page or just click here!

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!

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