WOODSTOCK – Pioneer Electric announced that Bob and Midge Custer were named the grand prize winners of the 2018 Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives #WhoPowersYou contest.
The Custers of Woodstock were recognized for establishing and operating their own independent agency, Downsize Farm. For Bob and Midge Custer, having a son with Down syndrome and adopting and fostering two others heightened the importance of providing services to special needs individuals. After working with Ohio’s Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities and a foster care agency primarily serving families affected by disabilities, the Custers purchased a rural Champaign County farm and opened the Downsize Farm to help those with disabilities “learn by doing.”
Today, Downsize Farm is a Medicaid-certified agency serving individuals in five counties including Madison, Clark, Union, Logan and Champaign. Downsize Farm works to enrich the quality of life of their clients through a structured, well-balanced schedule in their home communities. Their goal is to change the paradigm by taking services to a rural setting and allowing those with disabilities to not only act as consumers, but also as contributors. Downsize Farm’s “Just Right Jobs” program focuses on supported employment positions in the community and allows local community-based businesses to hire Downsize Farm clients.
To date, the agency has expanded to more than 60 individuals and employs 20 full-time and 10 part-time employees. A staff member works with each client individually to determine his or her interests and connect them with productive activities, including volunteer activities that can translate into real jobs. In addition, the Custers have developed a job training center that prepares their clients with soft and applied skills needed for entry-level positions in food service, janitorial and landscaping, woodworking and carpentry and manufacturing at local businesses. Bob, Midge and their team’s flexible, creative, passionate and loving approach truly benefits their clients and their community.
Bob and Midge Custer were honored along with the following three other #WhoPowersYou Contest winners:
– Second Place: Paula Beaton of Day 1 Bags, Bandera Electric Cooperative Inc. in Bandera, Texas
– Third Place: Ronnie Kahle Sr. of Four Seasons Park and The Plum Creek Nature Area, Paulding-Putnam Electric Co-op Inc. in Paulding, Ohio
– Honorable Mention: Rich Gustin, inspirational cancer patient, EnergyUnited in Statesville, North Carolina
To view these winners’ efforts in the community, view their stories at whopowersyou.com.
The #WhoPowersYou contest
The #WhoPowersYou contest is an annual competition held by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, a national network of local member-owned cooperatives to recognize individuals who are positively impacting the communities in which they live, in those areas that electric distribution cooperatives serve. The competition has gained traction throughout the past three years, having received more than 300 nominations — including 11 from Ohio — for consideration in 2018.
Led by its concern for community, one of the cooperative’s seven principles, Pioneer Electric also made a donation to support the Custers’ efforts to serve and positively impact the local communities.
Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative
Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative, a not-for-profit utility located in Piqua and Urbana, serves more than 16,700 members primarily in Champaign, Miami and Shelby counties, as well as portions of the eight surrounding counties of Mercer, Auglaize, Logan, Union, Madison, Clark, Montgomery and Darke.
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives
Touchstone Energy Cooperatives (www.touchstoneenergy.com) is a nationwide alliance of more than 730 consumer-owned electric cooperatives dedicated to serving their members and communities with integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community across 46 states. Touchstone Energy co-ops collectively deliver power and energy solutions to more than 30 million members every day.
Submitted by Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative Inc.