In this season of giving, volunteers from Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives as well as from cooperatives in Colorado and Arkansas recently returned from a 14-day mission to light up lives for farmers in the mountainous region of Alta Verapaz in north-central Guatemala. The project – which is a partnership between the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) philanthropic arm, NRECA International, and Heifer International – consisted of conducting internal wiring of approximately 200 homes and farming structures in 38 villages.
Volunteers installed breaker boxes, light sockets, outlets and switches as well as meters on concrete poles outside of the homes.
The mission is estimated to empower nearly 1,200 farmers and their families to increase incomes and economic opportunity, improve quality of life and enable agricultural communities to thrive.
This project marks the 6th mission sponsored by Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives. Since 2016, Oklahoma co-ops have been partnering with NRECA International and sister cooperatives in other states to bring first-access to electricity in Central America and South America. To date, nearly 900 first-time connections have been made possible through the involvement of Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives.
Access to electricity will bring economic empowerment to these farmers and opportunities to enhance overall quality of life, including education, health care and safety Oklahoma coops are proud of their volunteers for leaving the comforts of their homes and for giving the people of Guatemala a boost to improve their lives.
Oklahoma volunteers serving on the project were: Team Leader Jarrod Hooper (Cotton Electric Cooperative, Walters-Okla.), Jerry Cundiff (Central Rural Electric Cooperative, Stillwater-Okla.), Stephanie Jones (Cimarron Electric Cooperative, Kingfisher-Okla.), Josh Stocum (Indian Electric Cooperative, Cleveland-Okla.), Thomas Gleason (Kay Electric Cooperative, Blackwell-Okla.), Heath Morgan (Cotton Electric Cooperative, Walters-Okla.), Billy Patterson (CKenergy Electric Cooperative, Binger-Okla.), Larry Crowell (Cotton Electric Cooperative, Walters-Okla.).
According to project team leader, Cotton Electric Cooperative’s Jarrod Hooper, serving on this mission was incredibly humbling. “Guatemalan farmers’ lives will never be the same, and the same can be said about the volunteers. We are all changed.”
Farmers and families in north-central Guatemala have electricity for the first time and just in time for Christmas.
Chris Meyers is the Executive Vice-President and CEO of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives. He is responsible for providing a number of services to the state’s Electric Cooperatives including Safety and Loss Control programs, administering the Self-insured Worker’s Comp group pool, State legislative lobbying and bill tracking, and publication of Oklahoma Living magazine which reaches more than 358,000 homes and businesses each month. Chris Meyers is a graduate of Kansas State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and of the University of Oklahoma with an MBA. He is also a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oklahoma. He began his career in the electric utility industry in 1985. In his 38-year career he has held of number of positions in utility operations, sales and marketing, and government affairs. He has been Executive Vice-President of the Oklahoma Statewide office since February of 2010.