We’re a month out from our hottest June on record. As record-setting temperatures and continued drought overwhelmed much of the state, walking across your lawn sounded like walking down a gravel drive. Even with lower temperatures and rain, the impact on our economy and the damage done to agriculture are severe.
In the midst of the extremes, Tennessee’s electric cooperative employees excelled in two seemingly unrelated efforts — one planned for months, one completely unexpected. Not related, yet tied together, they exhibit the core values that power our cooperatives.
The second week of June kicked off the Washington Youth Tour. With more than 180 students and chaperones, Tennessee’s delegation is the largest of any state. This continued commitment to the youth of our communities helps ensure that tomorrow’s leaders have an understanding of their nation’s history and rural electric cooperatives. It’s a major undertaking of time and resources, requiring months of planning.
What’s the payoff for the co-op? This quote from a student sums it up best; “I was very fortunate to have been able to participate in the Washington Youth Tour. I made so many friends and memories I will never, ever forget. The entire experience was simply life-changing, and I cannot possibly explain how much it means to me.”
Simply put, by investing in our youth, we’re investing in the future of our communities. To understand the full impact and scope of this trip, read the feature story on page 22.
The end of the month brought an unexpected opportunity to put our core values to the test. Cooperative members in Virginia learned a new storm word — “derecho.” Severe weather raced through their state, causing damage that rivaled any they had ever experienced. Beginning the weekend before the July 4 holiday, our co-ops sent volunteers to assist. After all, that’s what Tennessee is known for.
The challenge for this storm was finding enough crews to assist beleaguered co-ops and keep adequate manpower at home to handle local problems. With the storm causing damage from Ohio to North Carolina, crews from as far away as Mississippi rushed to help. One Virginia cooperative had assistance from 98 linemen from five different states.
Over the course of the following week, the Tennessee Valley Authority had power-supply and transmission issues; many parts of our state were battered by damaging storms. Through each challenge, crews worked long hours to restore members’ electricity as quickly and as safely as possible. That dedication to the job is always appreciated — even more so when the temperature is in three-digit territory.
Again, a co-op member (a Virginian who was without power for a week) sums it up best: “Thank you, local crews and out-of-state helpers. We were all hot, weary and scared. Thank you for sacrificing time with your own families to help us! I know I cried and jumped up and down when I saw the crews coming on Friday. Blessings to you all.”
That core value — the mission — of our cooperative employees is exhibited in both of these events: our dedication to improving the quality of life of our members. After all, that’s what we’re known for.