Cooperative members in North Carolina and across the nation can count on a strong network of support when disaster strikes – not only from crews dedicated to restoring power after a storm, but through a shared spirit of generosity and a desire to help. In North Carolina, one way that employees of electric cooperatives have consistently supported their neighbors in need is through the Human Connections Fund. Activated to provide financial assistance to people and communities recovering from disasters, the Fund brought cooperatives and their employees together to provide donations totaling over $79,000 this year in the wake of tornados and flooding in Kentucky and Hurricane Ian in Florida.
“The Human Connections Fund is a great example of how cooperatives work together to support each other and to strengthen the rural communities we serve,” said Nelle Hotchkiss, senior vice president and COO of association services for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “The cooperative principles of ‘Cooperation among Cooperatives’ and ‘Concern for Community’ guide electric co-ops’ response in times of need and always, and I commend cooperative employees for contributing and making a difference.”
In December 2021, a deadly tornado tore through western Kentucky leaving massive destruction in its path. North Carolina’s electric cooperatives joined together to donate nearly $39,000 in January 2022 to Kentucky Electric Cooperatives to help with relief efforts. Disaster struck Kentucky once again in July 2022 as historic floods ravaged the eastern part of the state destroying homes, businesses and livelihoods. Co-op employees across North Carolina donated over $20,000 to the Human Connections Fund to assist communities and families impacted by the flooding. Many of the recipients of assistance were fellow cooperative staff and their families.
Following the contributions, Chris Perry, the president and CEO of Kentucky Electric cooperatives said the need in his state was great.
“We are humbled but not surprised by the generosity and leadership of North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, who immediately stepped up to help their co-op family in this critical time. When I think of the co-op spirit of North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, I am reminded of their state motto: To be, rather than to seem. Thank you for being there for Kentucky.”
North Carolina’s electric cooperatives activated the Human Connections Fund once again after Hurricane Ian struck Florida in late September. The storm slammed into Florida as the fifth most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S., leaving countless homes and businesses destroyed or underwater, and nearly 2.7 million people without power. In response, NC electric cooperative employees donated $20,000 to the Florida Association of Electric Cooperatives for relief efforts.
The Human Connections Fund was established in December 2005 and gives North Carolina electric cooperatives and their employees the ability to assist sister cooperatives and their consumer-members in times of need. Over 140 NC cooperative employees donated to the Human Connections Fund in 2022.