The first Magic Valley Electric Cooperative utility pole went up in 1937.
It was on Mile 9 West in Weslaco. The cooperative was in business and would establish seven principles that would guide it. The seventh principle is one that is at the heart of what Magic Valley has done for more than 80 years. It’s “Concern For Community,” as the value states.
This is a value that still lives today in the Magic Valley Employee Community Fund that donates thousands yearly to deserving non-profit organizations. It’s also apparent in the special projects that MVEC undertakes in serving rural communities that depend on the cooperative for their electric needs.
Lasara in Willacy County is one of those communities. Magic Valley partnered with Noble Texas Builders in 2018 to share the cost of building a $50,000 playground in Lasara. Children who who had not previously enjoyed such a facility in their town now have a place to go.
“It goes back to our core,” said Abraham Quiroga, the business and employee development division manager for MVEC. “Our mission is to improve the lives of our members and the communities we serve.”
Magic Valley as a cooperative refers to its customers as members. It is a not-for-profit operation that is owned by those who use it services. The concept goes back to the 1930s when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act into law. It set about to bring electrical power to America’s rural areas and the Rio Grande Valley was one of those regions. Today, Magic Valley is the third largest electric cooperative in Texas and the 22nd largest in the nation.
Employee Community Fund gives back
Magic Valley’s legacy of giving back to communities in five South Texas counties is demonstrated in MVEC’s Employee Community Fund. Magic Valley’s employees work diligently throughout the year to raise funds for worthy organizations.
Choice employee parking spots at MVEC’s headquarters in Mercedes and its three area offices are put up for auction. Employees can also give donations to wear blue jeans to work on Thursdays. A company golf tournament raises funds for the Employee Community Fund. Quiroga said it is the employees who make the decisions where the funds will go and then take the lead in presenting the donations.
“It empowers our employees,” he said. “They are the ones that are front and center in giving the donations out and seeing the difference they’re making.”
In 2019, the Employee Community Fund has donated $7,000 to the Children’s Bereavement Center-RGV. Another $7,000 went to CASA in Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties to assist that organization in its work to help children placed in foster care. Magic Valley employees have raised over $150,000 since 2011 to help local non-profit organizations.
Magic Valley is striving to do even more. Its administration will seek board approval to offer employees eight hours of paid time each year to provide community service. Quiroga said that would put MVEC employees at a collective total of more than 2,000 hours per year in volunteer work.
“We believe it develops the leadership skills of our employees and involves them in our culture of giving back to our communities,” he said.