Cooperative Choice Network Credit Union (CCNCU), which serves Illinois electric and telephone cooperative members, has established the Tootie Holmes Memorial Fund in recognition of the dedication of former longtime Credit Union Division Manager Shewan “Tootie” Holmes, who passed away unexpectedly in 2020 at age 64. Holmes worked for the credit union for 32 years.
Monies from the fund, which will be awarded to children of electric and telephone cooperative employees, will be used to sponsor a student to attend Youth Tour every year in Holmes’ memory. The Electric and Telephone Cooperative Youth Tour has taken high school students to Washington, D.C. for a week in June every year since the late 1950s.
“I remember talking about the trip with [Holmes] on several occasions and how much she encouraged people to go if given the opportunity. She was a chaperone on the trip … and said it was interesting and worthwhile,” said former co-worker and current CCNCU Division Manager Lisa Widner. “She was also a judge for several years, reading the essays the students would write and interviewing them to determine who she felt deserved to go.”
The trip, which emphasizes the importance of rural electrification and embraces the cooperative principles of giving back to the community and education, is organized so students can see their nation’s capital up close, learn about the political process and interact with their elected officials. Approximately 2,000 students from rural areas and small towns across the U.S. participate in this program every year.
“The scholarship fund was created as a way to honor [Holmes’] years of support for the Youth to Washington Tour,” added Widner.
While the fund is intended to finance the trip for one student annually, two were selected for this year’s Youth Tour. Owen Northern, son of Bridgette Northern with Adams Telephone Co-Operative, and Caroline Guthman, daughter of Brooke Guthman of Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association, will join more than 50 other students and chaperones during the trip, which will be held June 16-23.
“I have heard so much about Youth Tour, and I was unsure if I’d ever get the opportunity to go,” Caroline said. “Because of the Tootie Holmes Memorial Fund, I can attend and am looking forward to the opportunity and experience. I’d like to thank those involved in selecting me to attend in her name.”
Donations to help support the fund are accepted throughout the year. For those interested in donating, contact the credit union at 217-529-6045 or 800-757-7432.