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When 10,000 Leads to 120,000


From left, Firefly General Manager Dennis Reece, Millie Winstead, mascot Flash and Gary Wood, president and CEO of Firefly and Central Virginia Electric Cooperative. (Photo By: Steven Johnson)

Millie Winstead tells the story of a woman who sadly informed her last fall that their traditional family contribution to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank wouldn’t be forthcoming in 2020 because she and her husband had been out of work for several months. In fact, the woman tearfully asked Winstead, the organization’s director of development, how her family could get help. “For the first time, she needed to reach out and ask for the services we provide,” says Winstead, who shared information with her.

About a week later, the woman called back, Winstead says. “It was a completely different person on that day. She was just bubbling over with elation and joy and gratitude for what we had been able to provide to her.” As she recounted the story, Winstead said she, too, was filled with elation and joy and gratitude for a $30,000 contribution to the food bank, spearheaded by Firefly Fiber Broadband, a subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative.

Firefly celebrated hooking up its 10,000th rural customer to high-speed internet by donating to the food bank, with $10,000 matching contributions from S&N Communications, its construction partner, and cooperative lender CoBank. Winstead said each dollar helps the food bank provide four meals across 25 counties and eight cities. That’s 120,000 meals, or about the average number the food bank serves monthly. “This means so much because it is about community and helping those in our community,” she says.