CEO’s Message — July 2020

I’m Proud of Our Community’s Response to a Crisis

Headshot of Clay FitchI know COVID-19 has occupied our time and thoughts for the past few months, and I suspect we have a way to go before this is behind us. Recently, I’ve heard members talking about the “new normal.” It makes me wonder what that means for us as individuals, our families, our friends, our businesses, and our communities.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of our members to each other. We’ve had several members contact us about paying the bill for another member they know is struggling. We know of local businesses that continued to pay their employees even after they were ordered to close their doors. If the “new normal” means having more understanding and empathy for our fellow members, at least one good thing will have come from this pandemic.

I express my heartfelt gratitude to our employees for their dedicated service and to you, our members, for your patience and flexibility during this challenging time. The COVID-19 pandemic has required us to change how we do things, but our commitment to serving you safely, affordably, and reliably remains unwavering. In addition to being dedicated to your service, your employees have also made generous donations to help members during this challenging time.

More than a decade ago, your Board of Directors made the decision to partner with local service organizations, welfare agencies, senior centers, family resource centers, and churches to provide Commitment to Community vouchers for electricity to assist members who have encountered unexpected financial hardships.

While this program has always been important, it has been invaluable as WREC members have endured unprecedented unemployment. One of WREC’s vendors, CoBank, also provided a grant to help members through this difficult time.

If you, or someone you know, is falling behind, I hope you will contact your local WREC office. Our Member Advocates can help in ways we have never been able to before. Not only can these specially trained employees help you determine if you are eligible for one of the temporary assistance programs, but they can also help you apply for state and federal aid programs. Some of these programs have received supplemental funding and have adjusted their criteria to address the unique circumstances created by the economic impacts of COVID-19. Even if you haven’t been eligible in the past, you may be eligible now.

While no one can ever fully prepare for a crisis like we are experiencing, I am proud of our employees, ever resourceful and resilient, and I am grateful for your patience and understanding. Throughout our membership, people are rising to the occasion. We join so many others in looking forward to a brighter future filled with health, safety, prosperity, and peace.

Clay R. Fitch
Chief Executive Officer