Small change adds up
Since our earliest days, Wiregrass Electric Cooperative has been inseparable from the community we serve. When the major electric companies didn’t see profit in building lines out to this area, the people of the Wiregrass came together to build an electric system themselves. They did it because they knew the transformative power of electricity for their community would continue to be felt not just for years, but for decades into the future.
Even now, more than 80 years later, our mission has never strayed far from those roots. We are still proud to live and work alongside the people we serve each day, and concern for our community continues to be one of the core principles that guides everything we do.
I like to think that principle extends even beyond our day-to-day work as an electric cooperative. At every level, our employees are dedicated to making their community a better place for everyone to live. It may take the form of involvement in their church, leadership in local nonprofits or coaching our youth in Little League sports.
As a cooperative, we are always looking for new ways to do more, and this month marks the eighth anniversary of a particularly important program: Operation Round Up. From the start, the concept was simple but powerful — members would round up their bills to the next dollar and contribute that small change to a fund.
Each member contributes just pennies a month, never more than a dollar. But when that small donation is multiplied by the thousands of members who make up Wiregrass Electric it can add up to real help for individuals and organizations throughout the area.
In total we have been able to raise more than $800,000 for grants across the Wiregrass. Those funds have gone to help local teachers with school supplies and give them a well-deserved bonus for their hard work. More than $150,000 has gone to scholarships for graduating high school seniors to help them pay for their continued education.
Many of you also know about our Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass program, which identifies everyday people who are going above and beyond to give back to their community and provides $1,000 to help their cause. This program, in partnership with our No. 1 local station WTVY, has done so much to shine a light on the good work being done by those who ask nothing in return.
So far it has highlighted small business owners, one gentleman who barbecues to raise money for people with cancer, a member who builds crosses for deceased veterans, a local hibachi chef who ministers to his neighbors and many more.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 years since we first introduced Operation Round Up, but it is so exciting to see the impact it has already made. I can’t wait to see all the good we will be able to accomplish together over the next eight years.
Of course, Operation Round Up isn’t the only way Wiregrass Electric gives back to the community. Last year, we raised more than ever before for this year’s United Way campaign, supporting their mission to provide for those in need in our area. We’re also looking forward to the 2023 Youth Your, which always gives our young people an invaluable opportunity to see how our government works up close and learn about the role cooperatives play across the country.
We are humbled at each opportunity we have to give back to the wonderful people of the Wiregrass. And I know I speak for everyone at the cooperative when I say we are always looking for new ways to do more. After all, to be a cooperative is to be an integral part of the community we serve.
CEO Wiregrass Electric Cooperative