Cooperatives around the globe adhere to the “Seven Cooperative Principles” that guide our activities — from how we run the co-op to how we engage with our local communities. Concern for Community is the seventh principle, and it is one that our team at Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative takes seriously. As we approach the end of a challenging year and the time of Thanksgiving, Concern for Community seems especially important.
Under normal circumstances, we show our concern for the communities we serve through economic development and support for local schools. These efforts have a meaningful impact on our communities and our future leaders.
This year, though, as the coronavirus pandemic impacted our communities in significant ways, our team sought out unique, meaningful ways for the co-op to serve. Many of these efforts were led by our employees and board, and it was inspiring to see how they worked to support their neighbors and friends in need.
We have reported in past months on the decision by the SVEC board of directors to suspend disconnections and late fees during the shutdown in March. We also partnered with TVA to donate additional funds to local food banks in each of our counties during the period when so many of our members were out of work and children who depended upon school meals were out of school.
As the pandemic drags on, we have made adjustments to nearly every aspect of our community involvement: from canceling the annual Washington Youth Tour trip and instead providing college scholarships to the writing contest winners to moving our annual meeting messages and Senior Expo educational speakers online. While these events were not the social, in-person gatherings we are accustomed to, current technology allows us the potential to reach far more of our members than live events.
The Tennessee Electric Co-op Day of Service occurs each October, and this year, our teams chose to honor our public health workers with the Tennessee Department of Health by donating Subway restaurant gift cards to the local staff in the county offices. Since we can’t gather together to honor them, we found another way to provide a healthy meal to them while also supporting our hard-hit local businesses.
As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, we have been forced to rethink our annual Holiday Food Drive and Angel Tree programs as well. While we know that there is an even greater need for assistance for families this holiday season, we do not want to risk the exposure to the coronavirus that shopping for canned goods and gifts could bring to our members and employees. So we are asking those who can afford it to make monetary donations this year. We will be awarding gifts of appreciation to those who make donations to each of the programs (see pages 20 and 21).
We know that our core job is to keep the lights on, but our passion is our community because we live and work here, too, and we want to make it a better place for everyone. If there’s anything we can do to help you — whether providing energy-saving advice to help lower your monthly bill or discussing payment plan options during these difficult times — please visit svalleyec.com or call your local office.
Concern for community is the heart and soul of who we are. And no matter what the future brings, you can count on your electric co-op to care about you.