Consolidated Electric Cooperative has donated $5,000 to the Stratford Ecological Center to fund the center’s solar and youth programs. The $5,000 donation was matched by CoBank of Greenwood Village, Colorado.
“Altogether you’ll get $10,000 for your programs,” said Pam Hawk, Consolidated Electric Cooperative community relations director.
Consolidated Electrical Cooperative is located along State Route 521 in Delaware.
Hawk said CoBank is a partner and lender of Consolidated that put together the Sharing Success Program. The bank matches donations up to $5,000 of cooperatives that donate to not-for-profits.
According to CoBank’s webpage, it is a cooperative bank serving agricultural businesses across rural America by providing financial services to rural power, water and communications providers.
Hawk said Consolidated has donated a total of $25,000 to various organizations with CoBank matching every donation.
“It’s our community outreach program,” she said. “We’ve donated to the Warming Center in Delaware, Habitat for Humanity and a lot of food banks, especially when the recession hit. We were spending a lot of dollars on replenishing food banks.”
Hawk said Consolidated’s committee chooses an organization to donate to once a year.
Jeff Dickinson, Stratford executive director, said half of the $10,000 donation will go to the center’s solar project.
“The array is going to be 156 panels to go on the machine shed and the animal barn,” he said. “We borrowed money from our endowment that we’re looking to repay.”
Dickinson said the project is scheduled to start at the end of January and, depending on the weather, could take four to eight weeks to complete.
“It’s not quite off the grid, but the panels will allow the center to cover about 90 percent of the center’s electrical usage,” he said. “We appreciate Consolidated Electric for helping us out and we’re very proud of the fact they also promote solar.”
Stratford provides hands-on education in ecological concepts and an appreciation of the natural world.
Stratford Education Director April Hoy said $5,000 of the donation will be split between a couple of the center’s local youth programs.
“We have a few different projects that serve children in Delaware County,” she said. “One program gives children a chance to experience a working organic farm and nature preserve.”
Hoy said the original idea was for Columbus inner-city kids to come and have a rural experience, but “we realized we have children right here in our local community who need these types of experiences as well.”
“We partnered last year with the Liberty Community Center,” she said. “It’s a daycare center just five minutes down the street.”
The second of the two youth programs is a pen pal program matching a fifth grader from Delaware City Schools with a senior from SourcePoint. Both pen pals read the same book and write to one another about it.
“They’re reading a book about chickens this year,” Hoy said. “They will write letters back and forth discussing the book and along the way, they get to know each other.”
Hoy said at the end of the program Stratford will host a pen pal party.
“The two pen pals get to meet face to face for the first time,” she said. “We’re going to set up experiences around the farm, in the nature preserve, and with the chickens since they are reading about chickens.”
Hoy said the teacher who started the pen pal program told her some of the kids and seniors are still pen pals. She said since there aren’t many multi-generational households, kids get a chance to spend some time with an elder person.
By bringing generations together, the kids to learn from the seniors, Hoy said.
“They have some really neat experiences the kids wouldn’t earn otherwise,” she said.