The Cooperative Advantage – July 2021 CCL CEO Article
By Jim Herron, MVEA CEO
For many of us, daily life is starting to get back to normal. It is easy to forget that we were still under COVID-19 occupancy restrictions and a mask mandate going into May. And, while there is much to celebrate as the second part of 2021 brings with it hope and opportunity, for some the lingering financial impact of recently lifted COVID-19 related restrictions remains a challenge.
Much like I did last July, when we were starting to reopen for the first time, I want to reach out to our members who are looking for ways to help—who want to lend a helping hand—as well as those members who have experienced financial hardship—and may need a helping hand—and ask you to consider Operation Round Up.
Through the generosity of Mountain View Electric Association members who round up their electric bill to the nearest dollar, MVEA is able to give back to the co-op community each year through Operation Round Up. Operation Round Up is a community-focused program, unique to electric co-ops, that assists charitable organizations, communities with special needs, and MVEA co-op members who have suffered from loss, personal disaster, or medical emergencies.
Your monthly tax-deductible donation can vary between one penny per month to 99 cents. The extra change, an average of 50 cents a month or $6 a year, is your contribution to the program (the maximum yearly contribution is just $11.88 a year). This amount may not seem like much, but when multiplied by the more than 26,500 MVEA accounts that are enrolled in the program, the fund can make a little bit of change make a BIG difference. Members may also choose to give a little more. When you enroll through SmartHub, you can give a one-time extra donation to the fund. The additional amount you contribute is completely up to you and will be applied to the fund in the same manner as standard monthly contributions.
In addition to helping individual co-op members through times of hardship, the fund plays an important role in assisting charitable organizations. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, these organizations have been integral in helping our communities survive through an era of economic hardship. For instance, Tri-Lakes Cares uses grant funds to support six food insecurity programs and provides financial assistance for housing, car repair, and past-due bills. And, the Eastern Plains Community Pantry uses grant funds to purchase emergency food boxes, which contain fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, and grains. These are just two examples, from a long list of organizations, that put Operation Round Up funds to work for the greater good.
Operation Round Up has given over $100,000 back to the co-op communities we serve each year since its inception in 1999. In total, the program has distributed over $2.8 million. The program is administered by a volunteer Operation Round Up Board of Directors, which is an independent board of community leaders, who grant funds according to the program’s policies. MVEA is not involved in the distribution or awarding of funds. Funds collected stay right here in MVEA’s service territory and are used for the benefit of our members. Funds are not used to pay electric bills or for political or religious purposes. The program is always voluntary, and members may opt out of contributing at any time.
In closing, I want to personally thank the MVEA members who round up their bill through Operation Round Up. Your contributions to this charitable fund, during a time when so many people have been impacted by the pandemic, are yet another example of what it means to be co-op strong in times of need. To learn more, apply for funds, or make a tax-deductible donation by opting into the program, please visit our Operations Round Up page. A little change can make a big difference.
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