This season, give the gift of light
Oklahoma Association of
It may be difficult for us to conceive, but today, there are still 1.1 billion people throughout the world who live without access to electricity. This number represents 15 percent of the global population, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
It was not too long ago that rural Oklahoma was included in parts of the world without access to electric service.
Electricity first arrived on rural farms and ranches throughout the United States approximately 80 years ago. Electric cooperative pioneers—empowered by the Rural Electrification Administration (REA)—brought light and power to remote and sparsely populated areas of the U.S. countryside. This access to electricity has significantly improved the quality of life in rural communities of our country. Today, we enjoy benefits that previously only urban areas could partake in such as quality housing, education, health care, and access to the latest technologies and communication tools.
Recently, I had the unique opportunity to witness a community in Central America receive first-time electricity. Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives sent 13 volunteer linemen, electricians and engineers to empower a small village in rural Guatemala. It was a privilege to see how the mir.acle of electricity will enable 65 families in the village of Chiis to enjoy a better quality of life. From children not having to do homework by candlelight to adults having access to basic ma.chinery that can empower their farming opera.tions, this community is receiving a gift that will not go away; it will remain for generations to come (read details of the project on Page 12 of this edition of Oklahoma Living).
With a desire to see the number of families living without electricity decrease, Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives have established a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, the Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation. Contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible. As you turn your lights on this Christmas season, I encourage you to consider giving to the Oklahoma Energy Trails Foundation to help support a 2018 international electrification project. Your family has been blessed with the gift of light. Won’t you pay it forward?
Be a blessing to those around you
Oklahoma Association of
It is easy sometimes to become overwhelmed with all that life throws at us. Life is often full of problems and inconveniences. At times, we succumb to the stress and fatigue they bring and may begin to feel a little sorry for ourselves. If we were to stop and look around for just a moment, we would probably see many who would gladly exchange their problems for ours if it were only possible.
Almost 15 years ago, the employees and board members of my co-op, Northfork Electric Cooperative in Sayre, Oklahoma, decided together that instead of worrying about what to buy each other for Christmas, they would look within our cooperative membership and find those who had recently experienced more than their share of life’s challenges. They organized to pool their money, time, and effort to offer these folks some love and encouragement. Over the years, other co-op members, vendors, and local businesses have stepped in to contribute as well, and the program has grown. Although the recipients appreciate the tangible gifts that are delivered near Christmastime, the biggest blessing comes from the realization that someone cares enough about them to reach out.
Northfork’s “Co-op Family Christmas” is just one example of how one small idea can turn into a blessing for so many with the help of just a few volunteers. As Christmas approaches, I would encourage you to stop, look around, and volun.teer to help someone less fortunate than yourself. There are many great opportunities all around us to make a positive impact on someone’s life. It may be through an effort such as Northfork’s Co-op Family Christmas, your church, a local Angel Tree program, the Salvation Army or other na.tionwide efforts. It could just be doing something kind for your neighbor who is struggling.
One thing I know for sure: the blessing you provide to someone else will be exceeded only by the blessing it provides your own heart.