Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Electric co-ops were founded through the concept of working together to improve our communitiesBy Joshua L. Winslow
For those of us in the electric co-op world, the concept of neighbors helping neighbors is more than a rural tradition; it is the way our organizations were founded. Working together to improve the communities we live in is in our DNA. Our actions continue to be guided by the Cooperative Principles, including Concern for Community, and in a time when consuming news can be challenging, it is good to be reminded of what we can accomplish when we work together.
Concern for Community is at work when co-ops engage in business development efforts that bring employers and jobs into service territories. It’s at work when we provide the support that helps start-ups succeed. And it’s at work when we collaborate with the towns and counties we serve to help our communities grow and become even better places to live.
Showing Concern for Community also means supporting a member’s nonprofit that is making a difference. Brunswick member member Barb Dullaghan wanted to provide duffel bags with personal items to foster children, because they were often moved quickly and without any belongings. Once she turned her vision into a reality, we were able to provide one of our Community Grants to help her keep the project going. All across our state, individuals are making a difference in the lives of others, and their electric co-op is often there to support them.
Sometimes, members go above and beyond in supporting their co-op’s efforts. Brunswick member Jane-Marie Terefencko used her 70th birthday as an opportunity to help her neighbors through one of our initiatives. She celebrated by asking her friends and family to support our Warm Homes, Warm Hearts utility assistance program. They rose to the challenge, raising more than $13,000, which we matched. A lot of people were helped by the strength of her intentions.
And sometimes, co-op employees are the ones inspired to develop programs to improve the communities they serve. Brunswick employee Judy Gore was talking to a teacher who was buying school supplies with her own money, and conceived the Bright Ideas Education Grants program more than 25 years ago, which has since been adopted by co-ops across the state. Teachers in thousands of North Carolina classrooms have been awarded funding for creative classroom projects that make learning better for their students, because of an idea that was acted upon.
Having Concern for Community as a North Star — part of our core mission — encourages people to see what might be possible, and deploy the resources to make it possible. When you know and care about those who live around you, the cooperative model can motivate you to action, and provide the framework to make amazing things happen. And isn’t that the kind of inspiration we need more of these days?
About the AuthorJoshua L. Winslow is CEO and general manager for Supply-based Brunswick Electric.
Co-ops helping communities