Stephen V. Smith

When tornadoes ripped through the heart of a community a few weeks before Christmas, cooperatives banded together to help.

Pioneer Utility Resources and WordSouth staff raised funds for the West Kentucky area struck by tornadoes in December. Pioneer matched employee contributions, raising a total of $7,040 to support the community and co-op staff hit hard by the storm.

“Mayfield, Kentucky, was one of the hardest hit areas, and that’s home to broadband provider and long-time WordSouth client WK&T Telecommunications Cooperative,” says Michael Shepard, CEO of the companies. “The loss of life was heartbreaking, and the damage to Mayfield’s downtown and surrounding communities was unbelievable. I appreciate our communications team who did a stellar job supporting WK&T, but we need to do more.”

Photo by Melissa Gaines

Pioneer staff donated directly to United Way of Kentucky. Matching funds were split between the WK&T Tornado Disaster Relief Fund and the Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund, created by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association for electric cooperatives.

"Time and time again, Kentucky electric cooperative employees put their personal lives and families on the side to address the needs of their communities and the wider co-op community," says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. "The Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund will serve as a resource both for these members of our co-op family and for co-op communities."

Pioneer encourages fellow vendors and companies that support the rural broadband and electric industries to join them in an employee matching donation program.

“A statement we often use is ‘We are More Powerful Together,’ and that couldn’t be more true than it is right now,” says WordSouth co-founder and Vice President for Special Projects Stephen V. Smith. “If we pool our resources and energies, we can help these areas in the slow process of rebuilding what was lost.”

Ways to Help

  • WK&T Tornado Disaster Relief Fund: Created by WK&T to help families impacted by the tornado in Western Kentucky and Northwest Tennessee. Checks can be mailed to WK&T at 100 WK&T Technology Drive, Mayfield, KY 42066. Please include a note that your donation is for the WK&T Tornado Disaster Relief Fund.
  • Kentucky Rural Electric Disaster Fund: This fund supports members of the co-op family who face challenges after disasters, and for the aid of communities served by co-ops. Donations are being accepted at the statewide office.
  • United Way of Kentucky: “give now” button. On the donation form, indicate Graves County in the optional designation field for your funds to go directly to Mayfield and its surrounding communities.