Laurens Electric offers scholarship opportunities to qualifying students within its service area annually. Through these programs we are keeping our commitment to the community, and to the future.
Calling all rising seniors within the Laurens Electric service area: It’s time to begin preparing for the annual Washington Youth Tour. Every year, about 1,500 delegates from 39 states are sponsored by local electric cooperatives to attend a weeklong expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
Laurens Electric Cooperative will sponsor two high school juniors to attend the youth tour, explore the D.C. area, meet other participants, or delegates, from across the country, and learn more about and promote electric cooperatives.
To qualify, contestants must submit an application, complete with personal references. Finalists will be selected to appear for interviews by a committee of judges, and two winners will be announced following the interview process.
Aside from touring and promoting cooperatives, the winners, whom we call delegates, attend dances and river cruises, dine at culturally unique restaurants, and make new friends with whom many past delegates report they still keep in touch.
Washington Youth Tour takes place each June. Click here to download the application or complete the online application below. For more information about Youth Tour, contact your school’s guidance counselor, or Laurie Riser at Laurens Electric Cooperative, at 1-800-942-3141.
Student Application Instructions
- Applicant must be a high school junior at time of application.
- Applicant’s parents, guardians, or relatives may not be employed by or be trustees of Laurens Electric Cooperative. However, students whose parents are employees or trustees of the cooperative are eligible to participate in a separate Washington Youth Tour competition. Contact Laurie Riser at (864) 683-1684, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- An application and two letters of reference must be submitted.
- A copy of the reference form should be given to each person designated as a reference. References must be returned directly to Laurens Electric Cooperative by February 10, 2017.
- Only one reference may be completed by a school administrator or teacher.
- References and applications should be completed and returned by mail or email by 5 p.m. on February 10 to: Laurie Riser, LaurieR@LaurensElectric.com, Laurens Electric Cooperative, Inc., P.O. Box 700, Laurens, SC 29360.
- Candidates will be judged on the basis of their school and community involvement, references and communications skills. If chosen for an interview, a panel of three judges will question the applicants concerning their past experiences, plans for the future and knowledge of the Cooperative.
- Two winners and one alternate will be selected to represent Laurens Electric Cooperative on the tour. The alternate will attend if one of the winners is unable to participate in the tour.
- Applications and references are due no later than 5 p.m. on February 10, 2017. Any applications or references received later than February 10 will not be considered.
The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc., the association of South Carolina’s independent, not-for-profit electric cooperatives, shall award one $5,000 college scholarship to a S.C. student participating in the Washington Youth Tour who best exemplifies the cooperative principle of “concern for the community.” Just as cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities while focusing on their members’ needs, this scholarship opportunity gives students the chance to better their own local communities by completing a community service project.
The scholarship is named for Robert D. Bennett, the first general manager and executive vice president of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. Mr. Bennett, who led the state association from 1950 until his retirement in 1980, strongly believed that electric cooperatives should support their local communities—providing a better quality of life for their members. His spirit of community service is reflected in this scholarship opportunity.
All students who have been chosen by their local S.C. electric cooperative to participate in the Youth Tour will be eligible to apply.
Jenny Ballard co-founded WIRE (Women Involved in Rural Electrification) in 1981, and is the wife of then ECSC Chief Executive Officer, Al Ballard. This scholarship, in her name is sponsored by WIRE.
WIRE Jenny Ballard Opportunity Scholarship for Women Returning to College
The WIRE Opportunity Scholarship is awarded to a woman who may not have been able to attend college when she graduated from high school, but now wants to further her education.The $2,500 one-time scholarship will be presented to an electric cooperative member in South Carolina based on financial need and her personal goals.
Applicants for the WIRE Opportunity Scholarship must:
- Be a member/customer of a South Carolina electric cooperative
- Have graduated from high school or earned your GED at least 10 years ago
- Obtained acceptance into an accredited South Carolina college or university
- Demonstrate financial need
Women who have previously obtained a four-year college degree are not eligible for this scholarship; however, applicants may have previously earned a two-year degree or some college credits.
The Pay It Forward program, begun in 2015, was born out of a desire to continue the good work of the 75 Acts of Kindness community initiative.
Every Laurens Electric Cooperative employee is entered into a random drawing to receive $500 to pay forward in any way they choose. Each month a new name is drawn, and the employee then has one month to apply the funds toward their own act of kindness.
This initiative is budget-neutral; the funds will come from Laurens Electric’s charity events, which employee volunteers make possible.
Employees and the community will enable individual employees to help individuals in the community, and that’s a win-win situation.
December 2016 – Kacie Nelson
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s December recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds is Customer Service Representative Kacie Nelson.
Kacie paid forward $500 to Woodruff Manor Nursing home in Woodruff.
“I’ve worked in nursing homes as a certified nursing assistant. Christmas is a time when everyone thinks of children but maybe not of our elderly population. A lot of nursing home residents are already in an environment they are not used to, and many of them spend Christmas alone and without family,” said Kacie.
Kacie chose to fund the home’s Christmas party on December 20, which included a photo booth.
“It was such a pleasure to partner with LEC and a blessing that Kacie selected Woodruff Manor for the Pay it Forward Program. Our 88 residents had such a wonderful time with the photo booth taking pictures with family and friends making memories that all can cherish for a life time” said Crystal Lewis, Woodruff Manor’s Business Office Manager.
According to Lewis, the remaining money in their Activity Fund will pay for a New Year’s party at the nursing home.
“Some residents are completely alone for the holidays with only the staff at the nursing home. Just stopping by to speak to them or dropping off candy – little things can make their day. I hope I can give the residents a Christmas party to remember,” said Kacie.
November 2016 – Keith Mason
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s November recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds – Staking Technician Keith Mason – paid forward $500 in food and supplies to Tabernacle Children’s Home in Greenville, which houses orphaned children whose parents have died, children left from a broken home situation, as well as children from dysfunctional families.
The Home is affiliated with Tabernacle Baptist Church and depends on individual and church donations and volunteers. “That’s how they make it,” said Keith.
According to Keith there are currently 20 or so children in residence, from toddlers to high school age. “This is the only home these kids know,” he said.
“My wife Debbie and I have seen first-hand the work the Home does with these children. In the past the kids have come and participated in church events, and we’ve seen good outcomes as the program helps them through high school and beyond.”
According to Keith, the Home receives donations and many of those are “staple foods, which is practical but these kids don’t get to eat meat or treats as often,” he said. Which is why, during the Thanksgiving holiday, he made sure his donation was packed with $500 worth of goods to make the occasion memorable.
To find out more or to help, visit the Tabernacle Children’s Home web site at www.tbc.sc/home.
October 2016 – James Harlan
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s October recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds is Crew Supervisor James Harlan.
James paid forward $500 in food supplies to Upstate Backpack Blessings, a volunteer-based, donation-driven organization that provides bags of food to nearly 200 students each week in local elementary, middle and high schools.
According to www.upstatebackpackblessings.org, over 34,000 students in Greenville County Public Schools rely on free or reduced breakfasts and lunches while in school Monday through Friday. Students served by Upstate Backpack Blessings count on their weekend bags that they pick up on Friday afternoons as the leave school for the weekend, a critical time when they do not have access to school meals and often go without or have very little food.
Alice Prevatt, the founder of Upstate Backpack Blessings, started the program in 2009 when she worked in a local middle school cafeteria.
“Can you even imagine having free or reduced price lunch at school on Friday…then going home and having no dinner that night, no breakfast, lunch or dinner on Saturday OR Sunday, and then returning to school on Monday morning…expected to be ready to learn? That is when you might begin to understand hunger, said Prevatt.”
James coordinated his donation with an annual barbeque event in his neighborhood in Fountain Inn. Stanley and Kay Smith have hosted the October affair for 28 years, and have been using the event as a food drive for Upstate Backpack Blessings for the past four years. Anyone can attend – in recent years attendance has reached over 500 people – and receive a plate of barbeque in exchange for a donation of non-perishable food to be given to the program.
“This is a good cause,” said James. There are children in our community with nothing to eat, and with the ties to this event in my neighborhood, these funds could double the amount of food we are able to give to the program.”
Prevatt says volunteers are always needed, especially drivers. Anyone interested can contact her at 864-414-4579, and visit www.upstatebackpackblessings.org to make a donation or get information on hosting your own food drive.
September 2016 – Calvin Butler
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s September recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds is Lineman Calvin Butler.
Calvin paid forward $500 to the United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties.
“They help a lot of people,” said Calvin, “and there are a lot of families in need. I’ve heard first-hand about a lot of the good the United Way does in the community and with the holidays coming I know people need help more than ever. Plus, the timing is right with Laurens Electric’s own employee campaign coming up to raise funds for the United Way.”
Denise Manley, President and CEO of the United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties said, “Because of Mr. Butler and Laurens Electrics giving spirit, we will be able to further our educational initiatives with young children and our efforts in creating a culture of education attainment and success with our youth. Pay it Forward is a wonderful employee engagement effort that provides a means for the company and the employee to give back to their community.”
In 1945, the Greenwood County Community Chest was established to help fund agencies such as the Salvation Army and Tuberculosis Association. As major textile industries and other businesses grew and prospered over the years and began to fund the health and human services organizations the Community Chest officially became United Way of Greenwood in 1970 and the partnership with Abbeville County began in 1992.
The United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all in our community. Their focuses are Education, Income and Health; the building blocks needed to improve everyone’s quality of life. They achieve their goals by recruiting individuals and organizations from all across the community who bring the passion, expertise, and resources needed to get things done.
August 2016 – Phillip Wicker
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s August recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds is Facilities Maintenance Coordinator Phillip Wicker.
Phillip paid forward $500 to Joey Miller, a Line Technician at Newberry Electric Cooperative, who is battling cirrhosis of the liver.
“On top of medical costs, Joey has to do a lot of travelling to Charleston for treatment, and he also has two younger children that have to be cared for while he’s away,” said Phillip.
“I know every little bit helps.”
One of the seven cooperative principles is ‘Cooperation among Cooperatives.’ The idea is that cooperatives serve our members most effectively by working together through local, regional, national and international structures.
Often that principle is illustrated when natural disasters such as storms, floods and tornadoes overwhelm a co-op. Cooperatives from nearby – and sometimes from far away – send crews and support to make repairs and get the power flowing again.
Phillip and Joey have applied that principle on a personal level.
July 2016 – Jamesia Downs
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s July recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds is Customer Service Representative Jamesia Downs.
Jamesia paid forward $500 to single mother Loukevia Rowland. In addition to undergoing two brain surgeries this year for Pseudotumor Cerebri – also known as Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension – Ms. Rowland’s two sons both suffer from numerous medical problems of their own.
Trenton, age 9, has Amniotic Band Syndrome, ADD and Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.
Tryon, age 7, was born with a rare immune deficiency for which he receives an infusion for every 28 days to help him fight off germs and colds. He also has (CAPS) Cryopyrin-Associated Fever Syndrome, which is similar to arthritis but also causes sores, unexplained high fevers, fatigue and extreme swelling.
“I chose this family because she is a single mother who keeps pushing in spite of what she and her children are going through,” said Jamesia. “When I’m feeling down or having a bad day, her updates motivate me and make me realize that no matter what is going on I must keep on fighting – not only for me but for my son.”
June 2016 – Randy Brady
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s June recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds ProTec Services Installation Manager Randy Brady.
Randy paid forward $500 in supplies to Inman Mills Boy Scout Troop 26. The supplies will fill 2 patrol boxes for camping trips, and include such items as lanterns, camping stove, dishes, and other items to set up a camp.
According to Randy, the Troop held fundraisers to build the boxes themselves, and now they are working on filling them. Randy and his wife Tammy, who is a Troop Committee member, plan to fill one box with supplies themselves, and the Pay It Forward funds will fill two more.
With three sons in Boy Scouts (the eldest just achieved the rank of Eagle Scout), Randy says, “We need Scouts these days to help kids learn values and self-reliance; to teach them what it’s like to be a kid and help them learn how to be a man.”
May 2016 – Sherry Scott
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s May recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds Systems Information Technician Sherry Scott.
Sherry chose to pay forward $500 to a fellow member of Laurens First Assembly of God. Johnny Godfrey, an active member and deacon of the church was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2013. After numerous treatments, doctors recently told Godfrey there is no other treatment to try at this time.
“Through the years cancer has stricken several of my immediate family members and I have seen the effects of this horrible diagnosis,” said Sherry. “While undergoing this tremendous burden, Mr. Godfrey’s perseverance and unwavering faith has been such an inspiration to everyone who surrounds him. “
Sherry adds, “When I approached Mr. Godfrey about the Pay It Forward program his first reply was ‘Yes, I would love to share my story, every breath I have is a testimony.’ Then immediately he asked if it would be ok if he donated $100 of his gift to his church’s Vacation Bible School program. Mr. Godfrey is heavily involved with the children’s ministry and said his decline in health would hinder him from physically helping this year. His thoughtfulness and dedication has been an encouragement to others and has left a lasting impression.”
April 2016 – Scott Fletcher
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s April recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds is Staking Technician Scott Fletcher.
Scott chose to pay forward $500 to a co-worker who, along with his wife, is suffering from medical problems that have rendered both unable to work.
“Here at the co-op we are a family and a team,” said Scott. “When a team member is down, it’s only natural instinct for the rest of us to help him back up.”
Employees at Laurens Electric have organized various fundraisers to help their colleague and his family recently, from collecting monetary offers to holding hot dog plate sales.
“As a whole we have banded together to help this family during these tough times,” said Scott. “I feel that paying forward $500 to help another team member is just a small way of saying ‘your team is here for you.’”
March 2016 – Sarah Craft
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s March recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds Customer Service Representative Sarah Craft.
Sarah chose to pay forward $500 in supplies to the Laurens County Animal Control.
The Animal Control facility, located at 79 Mount Vernon Church Rd., typically takes in around 20 dogs a week and employs four dedicated workers.
Sarah provided dry and canned dog and puppy food, bowls, bones and cleaning supplies to the facility, which is often filled to capacity with stray and owner-surrendered dogs. Officers say they also need blankets and towels and water buckets.
“I wanted to give to animal control because I have always had a big heart for animals,” said Sarah. “Hopefully by paying it forward to them it will help get the animals the care they need to find forever homes.”
To volunteer or donate, contact Jamie Masters at 864-984-6812, and follow Laurens County Animal Control on Facebook at www.facebook.com/laurenssc.animalshelter/ to see photos of their adoptable dogs.
February 2016 – Johnny Langston
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s February recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds is Technical Services technician Johnny Langston.
Johnny chose to pay forward $500 in supplies to the Set Free To Be Ministries in Laurens.
Founded by Pastor Wayne Jones and his wife Sarah, the non-profit, non-denominational ministry includes four community outreach programs: L.I.F.E. (Living It Free Everyday) Community, Prison Ministry, R.C. (Reality Check) Ministry and Re-Entry House.
Set Free To Be has a special focus on people with addiction, behavioral and relationship issues. “We try especially to reach out to the families of these people, and educate them about enabling and co-dependency,” said Jones. “I’ve given seminars at the YMCA and City Hall, and I’d like to start talking to churches to teach them how to reach out to people with these needs.”
Johnny Langston is a member of the First Assembly of God church in Laurens, which allows the ministry to use a home on its property as a re-entry (transitional) home for people being released from addiction rehabilitation or prison. “I wanted to help a local cause and I’ve seen the impact of this ministry first-hand,” Johnny said.
Jones replied, “Our community is full of people ready to go to work. We try to find out what their passion is and plug them into a position to help.”
To find out more about contributing or volunteering, call 864-517-2443, and find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/setfreetobe/.
January 2016 – Chris Leonhardt
Laurens Electric Cooperative’s January recipient of the employee Pay it Forward funds is Apprentice Lineman Chris Leonhardt.
Chris chose to donate the entire $500 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.
“I have a soft spot for children, and St. Jude’s has a good reputation for helping kids,” Chris said.
“These funds can help a sick child get the medical treatment he or she needs,” he added. Thinking of his own 8 month old daughter, Chris added, “These kids should have their whole lives ahead of them, and I want them to have a future.”