SMECO Employees Raise Funds for Local Shelters

HUGHESVILLE, Md.—Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) employees held two fund raising events and donated $35,760 to three local shelters. The three groups that help the homeless in Southern Maryland, Lifestyles of Maryland of Charles County, Project Echo of Calvert County, and Three Oaks Center of St. Mary's County, each received $11,920. SMECO employees raised the money through a Bike Ride held in June and a Charity Golf Tournament in September. The events are supported by a group of volunteers, vendors, and the SMECO executive team. The Co-op selects a different organization each year to benefit from the fundraising events.

According to Richard Jarboe, SMECO supply chain director, "Working together with SMECO's supply chain partners to help our community is a labor of love; we work hard, we enjoy the event, and local organizations, along with the clients they serve, receive the benefits. We have held the charity golf event for 10 years and have given more than $100,000 to local organizations."

"This contribution says a lot about SMECO, its employees, and how the co-op cares about the community and what its residents need. Our average cost to provide two meals and a bed for the night is about $15, so SMECO's contribution will help support nearly 800 bed-nights," said Sandy Washington, Executive Director of Lifestyles of Maryland. She added, "We are the only facility in Charles County that provides housing for homeless men. Many of our clients are working, but they can't afford housing. We allow them to stay up to a year. While they are here, we help them establish bank accounts, develop their skills, and find more permanent housing. These are men who are trying to help themselves, and we provide a path to independent living."

"Our facility serves men, women and children. We offer a transition setting where people can stay up to 90 days. We give them time to get back on their feet," said Trisha Gipson, Executive Director of Project Echo. "Our close working relationship with local agency resources helps to keep residents as an integral part of the community. The Board of Education works with us to keep kids in their neighborhood schools. Calvert Memorial Hospital offers nutrition classes and a flu shot clinic. The Health Department, Social Services, and Southern Maryland Community Network also provide services to help residents build a foundation that will support them into the future."

H.S. Lanny Lancaster, Executive Director of Three Oaks Center, said, "We are very grateful to receive this much-needed donation. The funds we receive from community partners like SMECO go largely to provide essential items, which aren't covered by other Federal, state, and local government grants. SMECO's contribution will benefit our community's homeless individuals, families, and veterans, and provide items such as medical supplies and medication, cold weather clothing, food, furnishings, and infant needs. Three Oaks Center is serving in excess of 1,200 individuals each year. Every day, we manage approximately 140 beds; we provided 48,409 bed-nights in FY-2013. We wish to thank the SMECO employees for their many years of support to Three Oaks Center and to the homeless in our community."

Natalie Brown, SMECO's community relations specialist, added, "We are especially grateful to business partners who donated thousands of dollars to help make the SMECO 75 Bike Ride a successful fundraiser." SMECO held its second annual bike ride on June 1, 2013. More than 440 bicyclists registered for the event. Three bike routes of 29, 47, and 75 miles start at the co-op's headquarters in Hughesville and go as far as Colton's Point in St. Mary's County. "Major contributors to SMECO's bike ride include CGI, C.W. Wright Construction Company, ICF International, and IP DataSystems. We would also like to thank the following companies for their contributions: Opower; Black & Veatch; Adams, Jenkins, and Cheatham; SunEdison; Sutherland, Asbill, and Brennan; and Utilitec," Brown added. She concluded, "SMECO is planning on hosting its third annual bike ride on Saturday, May 31, 2014. We hope to raise even more money for the community next year."

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