SMECO newsletter

volume 67 - issue 1 - January 2017

Employees raise $53,476 for Operation: Tohidu

Golfers hit the course at the 2016 golf fund raising event.

SMECO employees held two fund raising events and donated $53,476 to Melwood's Operation: Tohidu in December. The employees raised this money through the SMECO 75 Bike Ride held in June and the SMECO Annual Charity Golf Outing in October. The events are supported by a group of volunteers, vendors, and the SMECO executive team.

Each year, the Co-op selects a different organization to benefit from the fundraising events.

"Our employees go the extra mile to support local organizations, and we're proud to be able to make such a significant contribution to Operation: Tohidu. With the assistance of our supply chain partners who share in the success of the golf outing, we are able to make a difference in people's lives," said Richard Jarboe, SMECO supply chain director, who currently coordinates SMECO's golf fundraising event. For 13 years SMECO has hosted the charity golf event, which has given more than $145,000 to local groups.

Melwood's Operation: Tohidu is a seven-day retreat designed with the goal of enabling participants to heal from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mid to moderate traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and other deployment-related traumas through experiential learning and alternative therapies and interventions. The program focuses on confidence-building, outdoor activities, and group discussion in a relaxed, positive environment using proven techniques for the self-management of symptoms, stressors, and responses.

Pictured from left are SMECO representatives Denise Chalmers, senior buyer, Natalie Cotton, community and public affairs director, and Austin J. Slater, Jr., President and CEO. Melwood representatives Cari DeSantis, President & CEO, Melwood Horticultural Training Center, and Walt Gillette, Director of Development, Melwood Veterans Services, accepted the contribution.

Operation: Tohidu is designed to help active and veteran service members overcome obstacles to their recovery and become subject matter experts. "We are confident that this program will continue to help a growing population of wounded warriors recover and improve their ability to successfully reintegrate into their families and communities," said Melwood's President and CEO Cari DeSantis. Operation: Tohidu sessions are scheduled throughout the year at Melwood's Retreat and Recreation Center in Nanjemoy, Maryland.

SMECO hosted its fifth annual bike ride on Saturday, June 4, 2016. "Our employees invest their time and expertise in making the annual SMECO 75 Bike Ride enjoyable for the people who participate. The fact that we're also able to contribute funds to local organizations makes us proud," said Natalie Cotton, SMECO's community and public affairs director and coordinator for the SMECO 75 Bike Ride. This year, representatives from Melwood attended the event and helped to raise awareness for their program.

The SMECO 75 Bike Ride is open to the public. Participants can choose among three routes of 29, 47, and 75 miles that start at the co-op's headquarters in Hughesville and go as far as Colton's Point in St. Mary's County. The SMECO 75 attracts cyclists from all over the area, and this is a great event for experienced riders or newcomers. SMECO is grateful to the business partners who participate by donating resources to help make the SMECO 75 Bike Ride a successful fundraiser. Major contributors in 2016 included Adams, Jenkins and Cheatham, CGI, Cigna Health, Community Bank of the Chesapeake, CW Wright Construction, ICF International, iFactor Consulting, Infor, IP Datasystems, J.M. Tennyson Construction, Morgan Stanley, New River Electrical Corporation, Origin, Penn Line, Prudential, and Sensus. Cyclists choose a 29-, 45-, or 75-mile route in the SMECO 75 Bike Ride.

SMECO's team is already planning the sixth annual bike ride for June 3, 2017. Next year, contributions from the fund raising effort will go to four different organizations that focus on the environment: the American Chestnut Land Trust in Calvert County, the Port Tobacco River Conservancy in Charles County, the Alice Ferguson Foundation in Prince George's County, and the St. Mary's River Watershed Association in St. Mary's County.

Cyclists who want to participate in the 2017 SMECO 75 Bike Ride can register online at beginning January 1, 2017. Businesses who are interested in showing their support through sponsorships can contact Natalie Cotton for more information at 301-274-4377 or via email at