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Jackson EMC Foundation: 10 Years, $10 Million

This month, Jackson EMC celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Jackson EMC Foundation, formed in October 2005 as the administrative arm of our Operation Round Up® program.

Through Operation Round Up, Jackson EMC members round up their power bill to the next dollar with the extra change supporting charitable causes in our communities.

As the Foundation’s 10-year anniversary approached, we decided to do the math.

On average, each Jackson EMC member who rounds up his or her monthly power bill contributes approximately $6 annually through this program. That’s basically the cost of one fast-food meal per member, per year. But when you consider we serve more than 217,000 members – and that a full 90 percent of our members participate in this incredible philanthropic endeavor – the numbers add up quickly.

When the math was done, we were – in a word – astounded.

In 10 years, the Jackson EMC Foundation has contributed more than $10 million to charitable organizations and needy individuals within northeast Georgia.

That’s a lot of help given to those who need it the most, and it’s all thanks to our members who give up the cost of a burger and fries each year to help their neighbors in need. Due to your generosity, thousands upon thousands have been helped over the course of the past decade: The homeless have been sheltered, the hungry have been fed, and those sick have received medicine.

Operation Round Up started collecting funds on October 1, 2005, and the Jackson EMC Foundation awarded its first round of grants less than a month later. Since then, the Foundation’s volunteer board of directors has met monthly to study grant applications and fund as many as possible. Grants of up to $15,000 per year are available to charitable 501(c)3 organizations, while grants up to $3,500 are made to individuals with no other source of help.

In 10 years’ time, the Foundation has provided more than $10 million in grants to individuals and organizations that serve humanitarian needs within Jackson EMC’s 10-county service area, which includes Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Franklin, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison and Oglethorpe counties. This massive amount has positively impacted millions of people through food banks, domestic violence shelters, free clinics, after-school programs and so many more programs.

Also over the past decade, the Foundation has given about $850,000 to more than 300 individuals in dire need or emergency situations. Your contributions have paid for wheelchair ramps for the elderly and dentures for those whose health was at risk because they couldn’t chew food.

Beauty Baldwin, a director on the Jackson EMC Foundation Board since it was founded and the board’s current chairman, takes the Foundation’s mission to heart.

“We have discovered the need is great in our communities, so we never make decisions lightly,” she says. “We are honored to serve in this capacity, and we are overwhelmed at how the numbers have added up in just one decade – 10 years, $10 million, and it’s all because members of Jackson EMC give pennies when they pay their power bill, pennies that truly become powerful when multiplied.”

Grant recipients are ever-grateful for the power of those pennies.

Since awarded its first grant in January 2006, Mercy Health Center, a free clinic in Athens, has received $92,324 in Jackson EMC Foundation funding for everything from facility renovations to a dental hygiene program. The grants have helped the Center serve its 2,200 low-income patients, according to Executive Director Tracy Thompson.

“By investing in Mercy Health Center, the Jackson EMC Foundation is investing in their community,” she says.

NOA’s Ark (No One Alone), Inc. is another longtime recipient of Foundation funding. The domestic violence shelter and counseling program in Dahlonega has received $72,000 in grant monies, most for trauma counseling programs for domestic violence victims and their family members.

“We feel that counseling is the essential component here – one of the key factors in not repeating the cycle and getting out of the shelter and on with life,” says NOA’s Ark Executive Director Cara Ledford. “And that’s why we’re so grateful for the Jackson EMC Foundation.” For Derek Hutchens, director of the Boys & Girls Club of Winder-Barrow County, receiving Jackson EMC Foundation funding for the club’s after-school homework assistance programs is about much more than the money.

“Getting their support means they believe in our programs and consider us a trusted agency,” says Hutchens. “For the Foundation to grant us year after year, it means their board of directors has done their research and they believe in what we do. And it means they are willing to invest in this organization and help youth move from grade to grade to ultimately graduate from high school.”

This investment in its communities through Operation Round Up and the Jackson EMC Foundation is how Jackson EMC fulfills one of its cooperative principles: Commitment to Community. With the extra pennies members give, the dollars add up, one at a time, to benefit children who need homework help, families who need shelter from the storms of violence, individuals who need assistance paying for their medications, and so much more.

Carol, a Lawrenceville mother of four, recently received assistance at the Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry, a recipient of Jackson EMC Foundation grants for the past decade. In between jobs, she needed food and help paying the bills. Thanks to the Ministry, and Foundation funding, this mother was able to continue caring for her children.

“I’m very grateful for the help,” she said, with emphasis on grateful. “Thankful means you’re satisfied and appreciative, but grateful means very absolutely, you are appreciative. I am grateful.”