Member newsletter for Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative

At SMECO, we understand the impact of our actions on the communities we serve. This understanding is rooted in the cooperative’s principles—SMECO belongs to this community and is connected to the community’s needs.

Throughout 2023, the cooperative remained steadfast in its commitment to supporting the local economy and fostering community resilience. A major employer in Southern Maryland, the cooperative also supports initiatives for economic development and partners with local businesses as much as possible. SMECO continues to serve as a catalyst for growth and prosperity in the communities we call home.

In addition to the cooperative’s financial and physical support, SMECO’s employees also give of their time and money.

Linemen display a bucket truck at the Touch a Truck and Heavy Equipment Spooktacular.

Building blocks of the future—our local youth

A big portion of the cooperative’s community outreach involves education and the youth. SMECO works with local school systems to sponsor educational programs, including the MATHCOUNTS competition for middle school students and the annual Elementary Mathematics Challenge. Each year, SMECO also gives out four $2,500 scholarships to high school seniors living in the service territory. These awards are based on scholastic achievement, financial need, and school and community involvement. In 31 years, the cooperative has awarded scholarships to 124 students. SMECO also takes high school students to Washington, D.C. for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour.

Teachers are integral to building a strong foundation for success for their students and SMECO also recognizes the work of local educators. Each year, SMECO honors outstanding teachers in the areas of mathematics, science, and STEM. In 2023, 22 educators from Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties received Outstanding Teacher awards. In 32 years, SMECO has recognized 480 local math and science teachers.

SMECO employees volunteer to score tests at MATHCOUNTS.

Charitable giving

Cooperative employees raised $58,000 through the 2023 Annual Charity Golf Outing in September. This event draws support from SMECO vendors, the cooperative’s board and executive team, and employees who volunteer.

Employee fund-raisers have contributed more than $542,000 to local organizations over the last 11 years.

The cooperative selects different organizations each year to benefit from its fundraising events. Funds in 2023 were donated to Cornerstone Southern Maryland in support of their efforts to help people with behavioral health disorders enhance their quality of life and realize their potential as citizens of the community.

As a CoBank customer, SMECO was eligible to receive a $10,000 contribution from CoBank to award to local organizations that SMECO had supported with matching funds. Each of the following received $2,500 in 2023:

    1. Calvert County Meals on Wheels
    2. Charles County Meals on Wheels
    3. St. Mary’s County Home Delivered Meals Program
    4. Clements Cuties Foundation

CoBank’s Sharing Success program is a $5 million fund to benefit cooperatives and the charitable groups they support. CoBank and its customers have partnered to contribute $76 million in combined donations since 2012.

Team members from multiple departments select families with whom they can share holiday joy through Adopt-A-Family.

Cooperation among cooperatives

Cooperative businesses support each other and their communities. When a storm impacts a region, other cooperative workers hit the road to lend a hand when possible. Cooperatives also work together to help others. In October 2023, three SMECO employees joined more than a dozen other volunteers from cooperatives in Virginia and Maryland to help bring electric service to the village of Santa Isabel in Guatemala for the first time. The team worked for much of October in hot and humid conditions—and endured bumpy roads—to help change the lives of 500 people in the village.

Lineworkers from Maryland and Virginia work together to bring power to a small village in Guatemala.

For the birds

The Southern Maryland community includes local wildlife. The cooperative is also dedicated to keeping the local environment safe and beautiful.

When a summer storm toppled a pole that held an Osprey nesting box, leaving two fledgling ospreys homeless, community members reached out for help. A Maryland Department of Natural Resources police officer rescued the wild birds and, on January 26, 2023, a SMECO crew installed a new pole with a new nesting box, along with another box on a nearby utility pole.

Ospreys are a protected species under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. By installing alternative nesting locations near SMECO electric lines, the cooperative can prevent the raptors from building directly on the utility poles, which can be deadly for the adults and their offspring. SMECO also puts up deterrents to persuade the ospreys to relocate to the nesting boxes.

Moving into 2024, SMECO remains committed to making a meaningful difference in the lives of its members and the world around us. Together we are shaping a brighter, more sustainable future for all.

Children/Youth: $18,153 Civic/Community Development: $29,350 Arts & Culture: $2,800 Education: $21,032 Environment: $6,050 Health & Welfare: $100,605

Investing in the community

For $1 per member per year, the cooperative is able to invest in many of Southern Maryland’s local non-profits.

SMECO’s contributions committee meets monthly to review requests and award sponsorship money to eligible organizations. The diverse committee is comprised of seven employees who represent different parts of the service territory and departments within SMECO. The committee votes to ensure the investment is distributed equitably throughout the service territory.

$177,990 to 240 local organizations
$10k in scholarships awarded each year

Board of Directors