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DeFuniak Springs (Jan. 30, 2024) – Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CHELCO) Vice President of Member Services and External Affairs Emily Cowan has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Cooperative Family Fund, a new nonprofit that provides financial assistance to children whose parents die while employed by an electric co-op.

The Cooperative Family Fund’s mission is to provide each child of a parent who dies while an active co-op employee a trust account that will be available to the child on his or her 18th birthday. National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. (CFC) helped get the organization certified as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit, and it began accepting donations on Jan. 6, 2023.

“Serving on this board is personal to me,” said Cowan. “At CHELCO, we’ve experienced the loss of a coworker and the devastation it brings. This fund would have been a tremendous assistance to that family if it had been in place then. The children who benefit from this fund will know that the co-op is there for them.”

Once the organization learns of a co-op employee’s death, a board member will contact the co-op and provide information about how the family can apply to the fund and how the co-op can begin gathering information and photos for a memory book and offer support. Trust accounts are managed by Homestead Advisers, an institutional investment firm founded by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to manage portfolios, pension plans and mutual fund assets for rural electric cooperatives and affiliated organizations across the United States of America.

As of December 2023, 19 electric co-op employees in 14 different states have died, leaving a total of 40 children under the age of 18 without parents.

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CHELCO is a member-owned, not-for profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 62,000 accounts in Walton, Okaloosa, Holmes and Santa Rosa counties.