CEO’s Message — January 2021

Hope for the New Year
Headshot of Clay Fitch

As we welcomed the New Year, my thoughts were drawn back to this same time one year ago. There was hope and excitement for the opportunities ahead, yet we all know 2020 was not the year any of us expected. Who knew on March 13—Friday the 13th, to be exact—so many changes would happen in our communities? Life as we knew it began to look a lot different. Offices and schools closed, community meetings and activities were canceled, and we adapted to celebrating things like graduation in very different ways.

While many of these changes were difficult, there was still positivity around us. I witnessed the flexibility of our members and the dedication of your employees. Throughout the year, we adjusted where and how your employees served you. We had to complete work from a distance and had to adapt many of our service processes to maintain social distancing. Members had to adjust by communicating with their cooperative electronically.

We eagerly await the day when we can be together again for the events that make our communities such wonderful places to live. Serving our community is what makes us smile. Thank you to everyone for your understanding and flexibility.

We also got to witness our community step up in creative ways to support one another. When we learned of widespread layoffs, we immediately ramped up our efforts to help members receive financial assistance to stay warm and safe. Our member advocates worked miracles to help struggling members access existing assistance programs and new funding made available through the CARES Act. It reinforced my appreciation for our communities when members called and anonymously volunteered to help fellow members pay their bills. One of our financial partners, CoBank, also stepped up to help our members by providing a $10,000 matching grant.

I’m also grateful to the local service organizations and churches that participate in WREC’s Commitment to Community voucher program. Our combined efforts helped many members avoid disconnection and overwhelming account balances.

I’m optimistic that 2021 will be a brighter year, but I remain concerned about our friends and neighbors affected by the pandemic itself or by its financial aftermath. If you or another member you know are struggling with electricity bills that are usually higher in the winter, please contact your local office. We are eager to not only help you manage your account during these trying times, but we also have energy-efficiency and conservation programs that can help you reduce your energy consumption while enhancing the comfort of your home or business.

Best wishes for a safe and warm new year!

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer