Hughesville, MD – Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) employees held two fund raising events and recently donated $41,322 to three local shelters. Funds will be donated to Safe Harbor in Calvert County, Lifestyles of Maryland Martha’s Place Transitional Home in Charles County and Wrapping Arms ’Round Many (WARM) in St. Mary’s County.

Each organization received $13,774. SMECO employees raised the money through the SMECO 75 Bike Ride held in June and the SMECO Annual Charity Golf Outing in October. 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.

Richard Jarboe, SMECO supply chain director, described SMECO’s involvement with the golf fundraising event. “Many co-op employees volunteer for local organizations, but this is an event that we can work together on. We join our colleagues, contribute time and funds, enjoy the event, and support the local community. We are grateful for the support we receive from SMECO’s supply chain partners who make the charity golf tournament a success. We have held the charity golf event for 12 years and have given more than $120,000 to local groups.”

“SMECO and its employees continue to be active contributors to those in need in our community. This contribution will provide much needed shelter for women and children in the county who would not have had anywhere else to lay their heads. This donation will essentially provide over 800 bed nights as well as case management services to help these families get on their feet,” said Sandy Washington, executive director of Lifestyles of Maryland in Charles County. She added, “We are honored that the co-op selected us as one of the recipients for this year, allowing us to serve these individuals who are trying to overcome so many barriers. 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 women who are trying to help themselves, keep their children in school, and implement life-changing practices to improve the quality of life for themselves and their children.”

Safe Harbor in Calvert County provides shelter for abused women and children. Together with the Calvert County Health Department, they provide food, safety, counseling, medical services, and compassion to those seeking refuge. “We rely on the hard work and generosity of the community to keep our shelter running and our women safe from eminent danger at the hands of their abusers. This tremendous donation will allow us to continue to keep our residents secure and provide them with the necessary services to assist them in their healing process,” said Cindy Dunn, shelter manager. “We support individuals for up to nine months, and we provide transportation along with other resources to help them get back on their feet.”

“The St. Mary’s County WARM program gratefully accepts this generous donation from SMECO and its employees,” said Maria Scott, WARM chairperson. WARM is a sheltering program provided by the faith community and partners in St. Mary’s County. WARM relies on over 1,100 volunteers from the community through the season to ensure its success. “We essentially provide a dry and safe place out of the elements for adult men and women to sleep during the cold months of November through March,” Scott explained. “Since WARM is a complete volunteer program and does not have any consistent grants or routine funding, this considerable donation from SMECO is significant to our organization. It will help provide supplies, cover expenses and potentially enhance the program in ways we have not been able to in the past, due to limited funding.”

Scott added, “Community partners such as SMECO, the Three Oaks Center; Walden Sierra; the St. Mary’s County Department of Social Services; the St. Mary’s County Sherriff’s office and Detention Center, the Mission, and Medstar St. Mary’s Hospital have embraced the WARM program in significant ways and we are extremely thankful for this support. We commend the SMECO employees for their efforts to make such a lasting impact on their community.”

SMECO hosted its fourth annual bike ride on Saturday, June 6. Natalie Cotton, SMECO’s community and public affairs director, added, “Our annual bike ride receives great support from the Oxon Hill Bike Club and local bicycle enthusiasts.” Participants can choose among three bike routes of 29, 47, and 75 miles that start at the co-op’s headquarters in Hughesville and go as far as Colton’s Point in St. Mary’s County. Cotton added, “We are especially grateful to business partners who participate by donating resources to help make the SMECO 75 Bike Ride a successful fundraiser. Major contributors include ICF International, Penn Line, Infor, J.M. Tennyson Construction, Origin, Adams, Jenkins and Cheatham, CGI, Cigna Health, iFactor Consulting, New River Electrical Corporation, Oracle Utilities, ProForma Johnston and Associates, Prudential, Stantec, The Meltzer Group, Barbara Ives, Booth and Associates, Cerner, EnergyHub, Good Earth Natural Foods, Integrand Information Systems, M.D. Henry Company, Manis Canning and Associates, Opower, Utilitec, and VFP, and we thank them for their contributions.”
Cotton added, “We are already planning our fifth annual bike ride for June 4, 2016.

Next year, SMECO’s contributions will go to Operation: Tohidu.” According to the Melwood website, Operation: Tohidu is a seven-day holistic retreat designed for wounded veterans and active duty military to help them overcome obstacles to their recovery and support their successful reintegration into their homes and communities. “Tohidu” is a Cherokee word meaning peace of mind, body, and spirit. Melwood’s Operation: Tohidu is an experiential rehabilitation program that focuses on confidence-building, outdoor activities, and group discussion in a relaxed, positive environment using proven techniques for the self-management of symptoms, stressors, and responses.