L to R: Judy Milner, Fulton County Senior Citizens, Kim Neville, Carlisle County Senior Citizens, Karastin Hancock and Linda Rice, Hope Center Fulton County, Phyllis Bryant, Change for the Community, Tina McAuliffe, Mission House, Rosemary Marbry, Carlisl
Change for the Community allows Gibson Electric Membership Corporation customers to round up their electric bill payments to the next dollar. The change collected over a year from customers added up to $10,000 in gifts for nonprofits in Hickman, Fulton, and Carlisle Counties. Since the program began, $47,000 has been awarded.
Debbie Weatherford, the EMC Member Care Specialist, said the name Change for the Community has a dual meaning - the change collected is designed to make a change in the community served by the utility. Gibson said customers are not required to round up their bills. Those who do not can contact the office and opt out.
This year's Kentucky recipients gathered at the headquarters of Gibson EMC on Wednesday, August 3rd to accept their awards.
Senior Citizens Centers in Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman Counties each received $1500. The Clinton Hickman County EMS received $1000. Organizations that distribute food, Carlisle County Food Bank and the Mission House of Clinton received $750 each. Fulton County Family and Consumer Sciences, the Fulton County 4-H Council each received $500. The Hickman County Historical & Genealogical Society received $500.
Senior Citizen directors spoke of funding cuts that have hurt their programs. Marge Kelly, Director of the Hickman County Senior Citizen Center, said that the state's decision to require senior citizen centers to act as daytime nursing homes with medical staff on site, caused their senior day care to close.
When asked where those who relied on the senior day care went when it closed, Kelly said some had to go into the nursing home, some moved away, others died. Some just disappeared from the center.
Other senior citizens center directors agreed that needs were great and funds were scarce. One said "they just keep cutting our funds". Others agreed that the cuts would continue.
Weatherford explained that only charitable organizations with the proper tax designation were eligible for the awards. A ten member board, composed of two Gibson employees, one director and seven community volunteers, meet to go through the applications and make the awards.
The Hickman County Historical Society plans to use its award to continue to continue to participation in the national designation as a stop on the Trail of Tears and to expand the Young Historians and other community programs and to support its historical and genealogical research.
Applications are currently being accepted for the coming year. Deadline to apply is January 31, 2017. Charitable organizations interesting in applying should contact Gibson EMC at 270-236-2521.