Almost everyone who has dedicated their life to serving others can remember an example set for them while growing up. For me, that example came from my parents and my grandparents.
I was raised in rural Coffee County, so this area has always been home for me. But as an Army brat, I remember moving away in the fifth grade when my dad was stationed in Germany. We moved to three different cities in the our years that we were there, returning home briefly before moving to El Paso, Texas.
It wasn’t always easy, but it taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of serving others. The Army is a team unto itself, and each member of that team makes sacrifices to protect our nation. That example was echoed on a local level
when I finally returned home from El Paso as a budding college student at Troy University. Back in the community where I was born, I saw my grandparents’ involvement in their church and the way they were able to help those most in need.
I see South Alabama Electric Cooperative as a continuation of those crucial lessons I learned from my family. As a cooperative, we aren’t beholden to generating profits for shareholders on the other side of the country. The work we do every day is for our members and you alone.
Our work extends beyond simply providing reliable and affordable power. Many of you know cooperative employees through their involvement with youth sports and their leadership in events like the Relay for Life. As an organization, SAEC also strives to be active in our community.
This year, the cooperative awarded $1,000 scholarships to 10 area students, helping them pay to continue their education at either a four-year college or two year technical school. Through both the state and national Youth Tours, we sponsored students as they visited Montgomery and Washington, D.C., to learn how our government works and the crucial role cooperatives play.
These programs are an important investment in the future leaders of our community, and SAEC is dedicated to the kind of economic development that will give them opportunities they deserve right here in our service area.
Programs like the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program is one example of SAEC’s commitment. The program allows SAEC to incentivize new business and industry by offering 10-year loans at 0 percent interest.
Over the last decade, we have been able to provide nearly $7 million in loans to businesses in our area.
It’s all part of the cooperative mission to go beyond providing electric service. Our members are not just faceless consumers. You are our owners and neighbors. That means anything that benefits one of us helps all of us.
Those values aren’t new. They are the same ones I learned from my parents and my grandparents. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that takes such lessons to heart, and I hope you are, too.