Committed to all things big and small

Illinois’ electric cooperatives believe in neighbors helping neighbors. That’s just another way of saying we’re committed to our communities, and it’s central to everything we do.

October is National Co-op Month, which is a perfect time to highlight our commitment to the local communities we serve.

Your electric cooperative keeps the power flowing, providing lights, running stoves, heaters, air conditioners and energizing the images we see in the game of the week or our favorite television series.

Sure, that’s our main mission, but when you look around your neighborhood, there’s a good chance the folks at your electric co-op have played some small role in helping to make things better.

It’s often co-op crews that show up with bucket trucks before the season to check the lights and change the bulbs at high school football fields that make night games possible.

Because we’re your neighbors, our kids attend the same schools. Members of our co-op staffs are right there with you at parent-teacher organization fundraisers. You can bet you’ll hear their voices among the bidders at 4-H/FFA project auctions, and some of those energy efficiency projects at the science fair might just be co-op inspired.

We see the same challenges and depend on the same services you do. At the fire hall or emergency medical services garage, you’ll see some of our lineworkers, field representatives and member services staffers listed on the roster of volunteers. You might also see a sign along the highway indicating that a co-op team helps to keep that stretch of roadway clean.

We work with members to solve the problems in our communities that members see. Whether its filling food pantries, collecting school supplies and holiday gifts or supporting temporary housing for families in crisis, in some small way, your local electric cooperative is involved.

But none of this is new. In fact, it’s why your electric co-op is not just some company. Since the beginning, the people behind the co-op have regularly gone through their communities looking for ways to meet needs.

Reliable, affordable power is still one of those needs, but listening to members still helps us to see and learn about new ones.

These days, we do that through social media or through conversations member services representatives have with members on the telephone or at our service center counters. Staffers are also listening for your concerns at churches, fast food restaurants and on the sidelines at the local ballfields.   

With us, whether you grew up on our lines or just moved into our service territory weeks or months ago, you’ll always have a voice. When we listen to you, we find out how we’re doing and that lets us know when we get it right, or need to make changes to keep from getting it wrong.

We care about the things you care about, because we live here too. We get involved early on the big economic development issues. Our engineers, lawyers and accountants work with other community leaders to find solutions creating new jobs and launching new industries.

But our commitment to community means we should be there to help with the small things too.

At the neighborhood level, it’s the little things that really make a difference. That’s always been the co-op way. Each and every one of us connected to the co-op is every bit as committed to being here and staying involved each and every day.

Derrill Holly writes on cooperative issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

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