CEO Message — November 2020

Connected to Members, Committed to Community

Brandon Wittman headshotI’ve written frequently about the 7 Cooperative Principles. These principles are what set us apart from other types of utilities. The Principles serve as a guide and a constant opportunity to self-check our business activities. The 7 Cooperative Principles form our core, keep us grounded, and yet also help us strive to enable our members to succeed. We’ve always taken the mission of “empowering” our members quite seriously. We want to be more than just a power provider; working to improve lives in the communities we serve. That is why I feel strongly that the Concern for Community principle rises above the rest.

The most significant community engagement endeavor at YVEC is our Operation Round Up Program. Through the generosity of our membership, we’ve positively impacted the communities we serve the past two years, more than I could have imagined. To date, YVEC’s Operation Round Up Committee has awarded $171,295 to 39 different local non-profit charities and organizations. The genius of this program is having the local communities tell us what their needs are through the application process. These local non-profits and charitable organizations have the same goal as YVEC, to improve lives, and reflect their concern for community. No one knows their communities better than the great people that live and work there. This program has furthered the mission for senior citizen centers, volunteer fire departments, Veterans programs, health care, education programs, youth centers, and food pantries.

This program is quite simple. Member’s bills are rounded up to the next whole dollar amount. For example, if your electric bill is $88.75, it will be rounded up to $89.00, with the .25 cents going into the Operation Round Up fund. This fund is held separately and subject to annual audit. On average, each member donates less than $7.00 per year. However, when you consider the size of our membership, this spare change makes a huge difference. Just to be clear, these funds are used for local organizations only. Funds are never used for political purposes, salaries, administrative costs, or other personal benefits. Quarterly, the Operation Round Up Committee, which is comprised of mostly members at large, some YVEC staff, and one YVEC director, meet to review applications and determine which local charities receive funding. The committee then sends its choices to the YVEC Board of Directors for final approval. The engagement, thoughtfulness, and genuine concern for our communities and members alike is evident and impressive to see.

Read for yourself what a profound impact this program is having:

“What has Operation Round Up meant to our community? Plenty. When our furnace failed not only would our community have lost a church but also the Ballantine United Community Food Program that has served to date over 17,000 meals to our community would have ceased operation. The food to trunk food program that recently filled over 200 trunks with food also would not have served our community. Operation Round Up was there to help us after the August 11th storm that damaged our building and our community helping us replace damaged appliances and allowing us to focus on helping our neighbors in need. Now the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic issues are upon us Operation Round Up again is the first to step-up helping us meet the increased demand for food boxes, cleaning supplies, and other daily needs. Thank you Operation Round Up donors. You are community helping community.”

Ballantine United Food Program

We are indeed COMMITTED to the communities we serve!


Brandon J. Wittman
CEO / General Manager