Rural Missouri - April 2020 - 11

Rounding up bills helps
rural communities
by Heather Berry | hberry@ruralmissouri.coop

N

iangua Fire Protection District Chief Shawn Ricks
recalls the incident as if it were yesterday. The
volunteer department was called to a house fire
on a hot July day. A firefighter had gone inside
to help the resident. The roof caved in and Shawn found
himself running into the fire to try to help.
"Later when we got back to the firehouse and started
cleaning up gear and restocking the truck, all I could
think was, 'If I'd had my old protection gear, I'd have been
a goner,' " recalls Shawn. "Without the help of the Webster
photo courtesy Webster Electric Cooperative
Electric and the co-op members, our department would
still be running on outdated equipment and gear."
Last year the Fordland Memorial Library received a grant to help comThe rural fire department is one of the numerous recipiplete finishing touches for the new rural library.
ents of quarterly grants awarded by the Webster Electric
Douglas and Laclede counties - may apply for a grant.
Foundation in Marshfield. The foundation began in 1998
Since the foundation's beginning, they've been able to
as a way for Webster Electric Cooperative members to
help local libraries, food pantries, senior centers, service
round up their bills to the nearest dollar and become part
clubs, police and fire departments.
of bigger projects which help their co-op community.
Bill Gdanitz manages Fordland's and Rogersville's seOperation Round Up was started by a South Caronior housing and sees how these grants affect lives.
lina electric cooperative years ago as a way
for members to pay it forward by round"I see people trying to survive on incomes as low as
ing up their monthly bill. The extra funds
$5,000 a year," says Bill. "Most of them haven't had
are dispersed to help with everything from
the amenities many of us enjoy, like air conditioning,
a roof that doesn't leak, even a microwave.
medical needs for disadvantaged children, fire
"It's usually the small things we take for
and emergency rescue operations, or helping
granted that means so much to someone who's
upgrade libraries or nonprofit organizations afnever had something," Bill adds. "One woman
filiated with schools.
Marshfield
said she'd never had a garbage disposal before.
Concern for community is one of the seven
Another was thankful for new lights."
principles of the electric cooperative way of doing
Newborns in Need is another group that's been
business. Webster Electric Cooperative enjoys being
on the receiving end of a grant from the foundation.
part of the change for the counties it serves.
"Our main mission is to provide baby clothes and es"If a member opts to be part of Webster Electric's Operasentials for infants in need," says Patty Shull, a volunteer
tion Round Up program and their monthly bill was, say,
seamstress for the southwest Missouri chapter of the
$84.60, the bill could be rounded up to $85, putting 40
national group. The $5,000 grant they received last year
cents into the program," says Denise Holdman, office manhelped purchase 900 yards of material for volunteers to
ager for the cooperative and administrator for the Webster
sew 350 receiving blankets, 350 burp cloths, 350 bibs, 225
Electric Foundation, the program which grants funds from
gowns, 225 booties, 450 scratch mitts, 150 hooded towels
Operation Round Up. "While that might not seem like a
as well as complete 150 baby quilts, diaper bags and more.
lot of money, it's change that makes a huge difference in
someone else's life."
"We offer our services through local health and social serThe most a Webster Electric member who is enrolled in
vice departments, pregnancy centers and churches in our
Operation Round Up would see on their bill is less than
area," Patty adds, noting up to 20 ladies meet monthly to
$12 year, or 99 cents maximum per month.
sew for the project. "What a blessing it is to be able to help
Denise says around 60 percent of Webster's 20,000 ruparents who struggle providing necessities for their babies."
ral electric cooperative members currently participate, with
Programs like Operation Round Up allow members to pay
an average donation around $6 per year.
it forward, helping their community become better together.
"Those members have helped the foundation grant near"Our department operates on $42,000 a year. That budly $2 million since we started in 1998," Denise says, noting
get gets eaten up pretty quickly if you're replacing outdatthe maximum anyone can receive in a year is $10,000.
ed gear or repairing a fire truck," says Shawn, whose fam"Little by little, we're helping make lives better for our
ily participates in the program. "You can't do much with $6
community," says Tom Houston, general manager for
to $12 a year on your own, but together those dollars can
Webster Electric Cooperative. "We're excited to hit the $2
make a difference."
million mark soon and keep right on going."
Organizations in Webster Electric's service territory -
For more information about the Webster Electric Foundation,
which includes Webster, Greene, Christian, Dallas, Wright,
email Denise at holdman@webster.com or call 417-859-2216.
APRIL 2020 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

11


http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2020

Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2020 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - April 2020 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - April 2020 - Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2020 - 4
Rural Missouri - April 2020 - 5
Rural Missouri - April 2020 - 6
Rural Missouri - April 2020 - 7
Rural Missouri - April 2020 - 8
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Rural Missouri - April 2020 - 10
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Rural Missouri - April 2020 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - April 2020 - Cover4
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