Delaware Electric Cooperative (DEC) is pleased to announce the winners of the Co-op Community Heroes contest. After reviewing several commendable nominations, these recipients stood out for their outstanding service to the community:
Grand Prize Winner: Karen Lesperance, $5,000 donation to Atlantic Community Thrift Shop (ACTS)
Second Prize Winner: Dawn Mitchell, $2,500 donation to Doggone Happy Animal Rescue
Third Prize Winner: Wendy Biggs, $500 donation to Wendy’s Warriors of the Alzheimer’s Association
Karen Lesperance, the grand prize winner, manages an all-volunteer workforce as president of The Atlantic Community Thrift Shop (ACTS), in Ocean View, DE. The shop raises money for charities and causes throughout Southern Delmarva. She easily puts in 25-40 hours a week at the store. Upon learning that she won the grand prize, Karen was quick to mention her work team and husband that all help support her mission to help others.
Lesperance says “ACTS has been a wonderful life path for me the last 15 - plus years, helping the community in ways I never dreamed of when I began working there. We currently contribute to a variety of charities monthly, to the tune of $15,000 - $20,000 per month. We also help folks that come up against tragic personal situations by clothing them and/or donating furniture to them.” She adds, “Please consider stopping by and shopping at our store, and/or maybe volunteering a few hours a week!”
Doggone Happy Animal Rescue of Harrington, DE has been awarded the second prize donation because of the dedication and commitment of Dawn Mitchell. What began eight years ago as a way to fill an empty nest after her children moved out, has become an impactful and thriving animal rescue. She began by resolving to help one dog a month to become adopted, whether by paying adoption fees or helping them find a home. To date, she has rescued thousands of animals across the country.
A nurse by trade, Mitchell is especially interested in the cases where the animals have special medical needs, as well as breeds that are seen as ‘underdogs.’ She works tirelessly to make sure every animal gets the help it needs. She takes care to screen potential adopters and her team works to help train and prepare the dogs to successfully stay in their forever home. “The most rewarding part is working with great adopters,” Mitchell says. “We get so many follow up pictures of dogs that had skin conditions or other issues, and it is so great seeing the before and after results!”
Our third-place winner, Wendy Biggs, is active in the Independence (Indy) 55+ community as captain of her Alzheimer Association team, aptly named ‘Wendy’s Warriors.’ The group raises money and awareness for Alzheimer's disease and dementia research and education. “I started this back in 2017 because a dear friend suffered for seven years with Alzheimer’s, and it was crushing to see how devastating the disease is. I became determined to raise money in our 55 and older community and try to find a cure so that this does not happen to other people.”
And Wendy delivered. She established Wendy's Warriors and hosts events ranging from June's Longest Day week to September's Walk to End Alzheimer's. Biggs says “It’s very rewarding because I’ve been able to put in place education programs to teach the community so that people can be aware. It’s important to me that we find a treatment and a cure, and it’s been an absolute blessing that we’ve raised $102,000 just here in our community in my last five years as captain.”
As a not-for-profit cooperative, DEC follows seven Cooperative Principles, the seventh being “Concern for Community.” Therefore, the Cooperative is honored to recognize Karen Lesperance, Dawn Mitchell and Wendy Biggs for their generous spirits by making donations to the organizations they care about.