The Co-op Family

Our culture is one of mutual support. At Singing River Electric, family includes both immediate and work families. Especially in cases of severe weather, the support and understanding of both are necessary.

Generations of service
Serviceman Troy Collins and his wife, Deanna, have been living the lineman life for 21 years. “It’s a good life. Holidays are sometimes tough, but our family is accustomed to my schedule, and we make the best of it,” describes Troy. “Hurricane season can be rough—most of the time I’m leaving my own family in the dark while I go work to get the  power on for our community.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Troy’s son, Trey, completed MGCCC’s apprentice lineman program over a year ago. “Trey thought he wanted to pursue a job in the medical field, but being able to complete the lineman program in just a few months and start his career debt-free was the best decision he made.”

Troy and his family live in the Hurley community. His daughter, Ava, is a junior at East Central High School.

Singing River family
After Hurricane Zeta, Serviceman Gary Allgood’s crew was working near the Mississippi/Alabama state line. Supper sometimes wouldn’t reach them until after dark in this remote area. Gary’s wife, Cheryl Ann, and other linemen wives made homecooked meals and delivered supper to the crew nightly. “They were working so hard, and they were
hungry!” laughs Cheryl Ann. “We came together to feed our crew and the linemen who were helping them from a neighboring co-op too.”

A lineman for 19 years, Gary knows he will be away from home after hurricanes and severe storms, and so do his children Grace (19) and Cale (13). Sacrifice and service to SRE members for linemen families is something learned early on. One Christmas morning when Grace was two, Gary was called out to work at 4:30 a.m. “We couldn’t have Christmas without her daddy!” recalls Cheryl Ann. “While Gary was working to get the lights back on for someone else’s Christmas morning, I had to occupy Grace until Gary could make it back home to begin our Christmas.”

No matter the situation, SRE employees and their families lean on each other. They understand the importance of what they do to restore power and normalcy in their communities.

Coworkers are family
The mother of three girls, with a fourth baby on the way, Sand Hill Member Service Supervisor Kelsey Hillman helps with the power restoration process by dispatching crews and assisting members, work she’s done for the past nine years.

Having young children (Kalen, age 8; Karlyn, age 6; and Chloe, age 2), working full time, and arranging life with her husband, Caleb, who often works away from home can be
challenging. Kelsey credits her work family with making life a little easier. “My co-workers are definitely family,” expresses Hillman. “I rely so much on Tonia McLain (fellow MSR) and Michael Pitts (warehouse supervisor). If my husband or my daddy isn’t around to help me, I can always rely on Michael to step up—even if it’s simply putting air in my tires.”

When a storm hits, home life is also impacted. After Hurricane Zeta in 2020, Kelsey worked long hours, often coming home late at night. “My daughter’s birthday was one of those nights. I had a small family party planned, but we made do with cake and ice cream at 10:00 at night!”