Rural Missouri - October 2013 - (Page 5)

Hart to Heart A do-it-yourself kind of business E by Barry Hart very October, those of us who work for cooperatives take time to recognize the significance of the cooperative way of doing business. Nearly everyone in rural Missouri does business with a cooperative — some without even realizing it. There are more than 200 businesses in Missouri that operate as cooperatives, meaning they are owned by those who use the co-op’s products and services. Millions of Missourians are member-owners of cooperatives, buying everything from agricultural products, insurance, hardware, telephone service and, of course, electricity. Cooperatives in Missouri include some of the state’s largest businesses, such as Dairy Farmers of America, MFA Incorporated and Associated Electric Cooperative. They also include small local co-ops that serve a relatively small group. But large or small, cooperatives exist for only one reason, and that is to provide service to members who would not prosper as well or at all under a for-profit business model. It’s this focus on service to members that sets cooperatives apart from other forms of business. Your local electric cooperative was formed because the traditional model for an electric utility would not work in rural Missouri. The state’s first utilities were either owned by towns that stopped service at the city limits or by investor-owned utilities organized so investors could make a profit off their investments. It’s not hard to understand there would be no profit providing electricity to a small group of people through many miles of line built in a hostile terrain. Instead, the future members of the electric cooperative built the lines themselves, with loans — not handouts — from the government. This grassroots, do-it-yourself mentality can be found at the root of nearly every cooperative in the nation. Ag cooperative MFA Incorporated, for example, was established to provide affordable wire to farmers desperately trying to reduce their expenses. Telephone cooperatives in Missouri were formed the same way electric cooperatives got started, and in many cases, it was the same people who got them off the ground. “The tremendous contribution of cooperatives to the quality of life needs to be recognized, and that is the purpose behind Cooperative Month.” Barry Hart The local boards elected by the membership to run the cooperative often are involved in many other community projects. Their first responsibility is to make sure the cooperative is providing good service and is being managed on a sound financial basis. Beyond that, they look at ways they can better serve their membership. This is called “Concern for Community,” and it is one of the seven guiding principles under which cooperatives operate. This commitment to making their world a better place to live, work and raise families is yet another example of the cooperative difference. It would be impossible to list all of the ways cooperatives improve the lives of those around them. The tremendous contribution of cooperatives to the quality of life needs to be recognized, and that is the purpose behind Cooperative Month. This month, please join me in expressing your thanks to those who bring cooperative services to you. Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Guest Column A stranger in the mirror I by Ray Speckman am so scared.” Marti said it just once. It was in our jungle-like patio where we had spent, and would spend, so many special hours together. She never said those words again. Marti had breast cancer. It was in her lungs; eventually the cancerous army of destructive cells would invade her brain. Marti died. Marti, the survivor, the fighter, the optimist and the avoider lost her final battle. She was 49. That is how I began telling the story of a very courageous woman, my wife, Marti. She spent a lifetime helping others. To me, she was the wind beneath my wings. I was not the only beneficiary of her graciousness and generous personality. She was a young widow with two small children when we met. They were her life, but never to the exclusion of others. She tolerated my nomadic spirit. She readily assisted others. Marti was straightforward and said what she thought and meant what she said. With her children almost raised, she enrolled in college. She excelled. Others attending college, young and old alike, sought out her help in subjects she had struggled to master on her own. She graduated with honors, and to accommodate me in my pursuits, we moved to Springfield, Mo. She enrolled in graduate school there. Then, only a summer semester away from graduation, she told me she had a lump in her breast. Marti had put off getting mammograms. After all, she opined, she had breast cysts previously and they had gone away. Also there was no family history of cancer. Treatments, reaction to chemotherapy, led to Marti postponing her last semester in college. It was not quitting or stopping in her mind, it was just putting off until she was well. Through Thanksgiving and Christmas following the May diagnosis of cancer, Marti continued to receive treatments. At a Christmas gathering with our combined families, she became very disoriented. The cancerous army had marched to her brain. Further testing confirmed it was in her lungs. Radiation followed. Nothing worked. She never expressed fear. She was, to the end, delightful, upbeat and giving. In March following her diagnosis the previous May, Marti died. Her memorial services were attended by a broad assortment of friends, as varied as was her life’s associations. She was buried in a special place in Notch, Mo., a place that was special to both of us. Southwest Missouri “I hope at least one person takes heed of the message from Marti’s story. October is National Breast Cancer Month. Get a mammogram.” Ray Speckman OCTOBER 2013 State University posthumously conferred her master’s degree, a recognition of the esteem she had earned at the college even though her last semester was not completed. At Ozarks Technical College in Springfield, the Speckman Learning Center was established. Here, students can receive help in basic core courses. It is the kind of place where Marti would have worked. I had no purpose when I began to write the story. Later, as I worked on it, I thought it would be a good thing for others to read. It might save one life if timely medical examinations would occur. “Stranger in the Mirror” lay dormant for more than a decade. Joyce Mitchell, a new lady in my life, hinted and then insisted that I publish it in e-book form. I did and the success of the story was unbelievable. I hope at least one person takes heed of the message from Marti’s story. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Get a mammogram. Speckman is a freelance writer from Tipton. “Stranger In The Mirror” can be downloaded at https://www.smashwords. com/books/view/69872. You may email Ray at 5

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2013

Rural Missouri - October 2013
Schooled on sailing
A deer dilemma
Therapy for the heart & soul
Out of the Way Eats
Gone RVing
Charge of the Iron Brigade
Hearth and Home
Underwater fun
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - October 2013