Rural Missouri - August 2021 - 9

Committed to caring
Farmers' Electric helps sick kids through Area Youth Benefi t Fund
by Zach Smith | zsmith@ruralmissouri.coop
A
s the well-known African proverb says: " It takes a
village to raise a child. " Ask the members, directors
and employees of Farmers' Electric Cooperative,
and they'll tell you it also takes a village to
care for that child when they fall ill. That's why the co-op's
Area Youth Benefi t Fund, or AYBF, has been helping north
Missouri families for nearly 30 years.
" Concern for Community; that's what makes Farmers'
Electric Cooperative special and the AYBF is a perfect example
of this attribute, " says CEO/General Manager Rod
Cotton. " The board of directors and employees of Farmers'
Electric love this area of the state, and we want to improve
the quality of life for everyone that lives in this area. "
When the area's economy suffered a downturn in the
early 1990s the co-op surveyed members to ask what the
co-op could do to help, according to Dan Bryan, retired
manager of Farmers' Electric.
" Two answers were prevalent. One, outside jobs were
needed to help support their farming and the second was
they needed health care insurance, " Dan says. Farmers'
met the fi rst need through its wholly owned
subsidiary FEC Development Inc. with the
formation of the 175-acre Chillicothe Area
Industrial Park. " On the second, we knew we
couldn't provide health care, so after much
brainstorming the idea of the charity was born. "
The co-op created the fund to provide fi nancial
help toward medical bills for children under 18
who have suffered an illness or injury. The fund
is supported by a dinner and auction along with
seemed like a long shot, but it was the family's last option.
" My kid needed something and I didn't know how I was
going to make it happen. I never thought we'd be in that
position, " Teresa says, adding she was surprised to receive
the phone call from the fund's board letting them know
Logan's application had been approved. " It was surreal to
me. They were so kind about it and excited to help. "
The fund is open to members and nonmembers alike,
and those who apply don't have to live in the co-op's
service territory. Disbursals are overseen by a volunteer
board, and 100% of donations go to medical bills. Medical
providers work with the co-op to use AYBF donations
toward bills for patients from the co-op's service area.
Also supporting the fund are the member-owners of
Farmers' Electric, who voluntarily choose to round their
monthly bill up to the next highest dollar amount through
Operation Round Up. The extra change averages roughly
$6 per member per year, which when combined pump
roughly $5,000 to $7,000 into the fund. What individually
amounts to pocket change for most changed the Franklins'
lives, Teresa says.
Chillicothe
" I always felt no matter how hard I worked I would
be able to provide for them, but life throws curve balls
at you, " Teresa says of her children. " With everything
that's gone on in the past couple of years, it just gave
me some hope that good things could still happen. "
This year, Farmers' is upping their commitment:
Members who sign up for Operation Round Up
between now and the annual meeting on Sept.
21 will have their name entered in a drawing.
The co-op will donate $1,000 to Children's
Mercy Hospital in the winner's name.
Members who sign up for Operation Round Up
a golf tournament, both taking place annually in August.
Since 1993, the fund has raised and distributed more than
$848,000 to 934 families. " Our goal was to someday be
able to help to the tune of $20,000 - a goal surpassed in
a couple of years, " Dan says.
Carrollton resident Teresa Franklin says the fund was
instrumental in helping her and her husband, Chris,
afford orthodontic treatment for their 15-year-old son, Logan.
With two other sons in college and dental insurance
that didn't cover braces, coming up with an extra $5,000
for a medically necessary procedure was an impossibility.
Teresa says she found dental assistance programs
that could help, but all of them required waiting periods
of up to three years by which time Logan would be an
adult. Searching for fi nancial aid geared toward youth,
the Franklins found the AYBF and applied. Teresa says it
Teresa and Chris Franklin found fi nancial assistance for son Logan's
orthodontic needs through Farmers' Electric's Area Youth Benefi t Fund.
Farmers' members, community residents
and Missouri electric cooperatives have backed the fund in
other ways, from serving on the AYBF Board of Directors
to donating items for the auction to registering teams in
the charity golf tournament. When the dinner, auction and
tournament were cancelled in 2020 due to public health
concerns, a letter writing campaign kept AYBF donations
fl owing in uncertain times. With the golf tournament back
in play for 2021 and an online auction in the works, the
co-op hopes to be able to help more kids such as Logan.
" Life is tough sometimes, and when you're going
through it by yourself medical bills can cause a lot of
stress on families, " Rod says. " If we can relieve a little bit
of that stress, it's a blessing to be a part of. "
This year's Area Youth Benefi t Fund golf tournament is
set for Aug. 30. An online auction is forthcoming. For more
information or to apply for funds, visit www.fec-co.com/
aybf or call 660-646-4281.
AUGUST 2021 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP 9
http://www.fec-co.com/aybf http://www.fec-co.com/aybf http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - August 2021

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