Virginia’s electric cooperatives are planting seeds of
hope across the state by providing modest but meaningful help to deserving
young people embarking on their educational journey beyond high school.
Outside an office window on Richmond’s western fringes,
fingers of March sunshine persistently pull the last snowy blanket from its
earth bed. After a season of slumber, life stirs and stands.
Crocuses and snowdrops peek out. Oak buds expand, pushing
stubborn leaves crinkly as parchment off their branches, downward to the
greening ground. Migrating robins return, joining the home cousins. Young
squirrels and crows emerge, first tentative, quickly raucous.
Those who venture outdoors note that yesterday’s chilled
winds are today’s moist breezes. Like sluggish dawn, spring spreads across
Following a winter of discontent, the natural world is a
refreshing elixir. The certainty of its arrival — if not the exact date — is
comforting in a world where unease and uncertainty spread like kudzu on a
Spring brings many joyful events to our lives, from
tilling soil to attending festivals to celebrating weddings and graduations.
For over a decade, Virginia’s 13 local electric cooperatives have made
graduation day a little brighter for many deserving high school seniors,
providing them with scholarship money to help with the cost of college or
This help is provided through a nonprofit foundation
created in 2000 to assist young people whose parents or guardians are
electric cooperative member-consumers. Concern for community is one of the
seven core principles that guide cooperative businesses. Helping young
people in the communities we serve is one way that Virginia’s electric
cooperatives apply passion to principle.
In the context of today’s high and ever-higher education
costs, the dollar amounts awarded are modest; it’s unlikely that a $500 or
$1,000 scholarship will transform a life. But the money does provide
tangible help with the daunting costs of today’s higher education, and
perhaps even more importantly, the award tells a young person that hard work
and persistence pay off, in applying for a scholarship, and later in earning
a college or trade school degree.
To receive an award, high school seniors must apply to
the foundation by completing a questionnaire, which is then reviewed by the
foundation’s board of directors, who make scholarship decisions based on the
applicant’s financial need, academic achievement, and written personal
Thanks to tax-deductible contributions from generous
cooperative member-consumers, the foundation’s ability to help deserving
young people has grown steadily; in fact, 2013 set a record both for total
scholarships (50) and total dollars awarded ($50,000). That’s quite an
increase from 2001, when the first five scholarships were given out, each
for $500. In total, since 2001 more than 400 young people have received over
$300,000 to help defray some of their costs for college or trade school.
And because the trade association
that publishes this magazine covers the modest overhead costs of the
foundation, literally every donated dollar is used for its intended purpose:
helping deserving young people.
If you would like to help such young people on their
educational journey, please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the
electric cooperative scholarship foundation.
Oftentimes we never see, or even know about, the results
of our good deeds. In the first half of the 20th century, a Canadian farmer
and World War I veteran named Nelson Henderson shared this thought with his
son Wesley on graduation day: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees,
under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
This thought resonates powerfully with anyone who’s ever
cared deeply about a child, a community, or a noble cause. Despite our
selfishness and short-sightedness, occasional cruelty and frequent folly, we
humans are also capable of great acts of caring and sacrifice.
And whether we donate to good causes across the globe, or
across the street, we infuse our lives with glowing meaning when we follow
Nelson Henderson’s encouragement “to plant trees.”
Because, while it’s unlikely we’ll live to see these
trees grow to maturity, there’s a sweet satisfaction in knowing that they
will shade and shelter generations we will never know, but with whom we will
forever be connected.
(To make a tax-deductible donation
to the foundation, please make your check payable to “VMD Educational
Scholarship Foundation” and mail it to the foundation at: 4201 Dominion
Blvd., Glen Allen, VA 23060, Attn: Pam Johnson. You may also email her at
firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the foundation, please go to
www.co-opliving.com or www.vmdaec.com.)