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News & Press: Georgia's Electric Cooperatives

Thomaston-Upson Community Launches Community Heart & Soul

Monday, March 26, 2018  
Posted by: Terri Statham
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TUCKER, Ga.— Residents of the Thomaston-Upson community have launched Community Heart & Soul®, a unique community development program designed by the Orton Family Foundation to build stronger, healthier and economically vibrant communities.

“Congratulations to the Thomaston-Upson community. Not only is Thomaston-Upson Community Heart & Soul the first in the state, the partnership between residents and the local electric cooperative, Upson EMC, represents an innovative alignment with potential to be a model for future projects,” said David Leckey, executive director, Orton Family Foundation. “Electric co-ops have long anchored their communities and have a vested interest in seeing their service areas thrive for the betterment of all their members. Partnering on resident-driven Community Heart & Soul is a natural fit.”

The Thomaston-Upson community (pop. 26,740) has been challenged by the departure of the textile industry, chiefly Thomaston Mills and B.F. Goodrich’s Martha Mills, which anchored the local economy throughout the 20th century.

“Our community has been through some hard times. We’re at the point where we are ready for positive change. We’re embracing what we have in common, and we’re going to involve everyone and really delve into what matters most,” said Jennifer Rogers, project coordinator, Thomaston-Upson Community Heart & Soul.

The Thomaston-Upson Community Heart & Soul program is a collaboration of local government, the Thomaston-Upson Chamber of Commerce and the Unite Upson Committee, chaired by Upson EMC President/CEO Neal Trice.

“Upson EMC is delighted to be a part of Thomaston-Upson Community Heart & Soul. We view our organization as a key partner in the community, and this unique program offers a way for us to work together with residents to engage everyone, recognize our strengths and achieve positive change,” said Trice.

Upson EMC is supported in the project by the Community Development team at Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (EMC), the statewide trade association that represents Upson EMC and 40 other electric co-ops across the state.

“I am honored to facilitate the first Community Heart & Soul program in Georgia,” said Jenny Robbins, manager of Georgia EMC’s Community Development team. “More importantly, Georgia EMC is delighted to support Upson EMC and the leaders of the Thomaston-Upson community. We look forward to watching all they will accomplish through this groundbreaking initiative.”

Community Heart & Soulwas developed by Orton as a catalyst for positive change in small cities and towns. By actively seeking the collective wisdom of all residents, including those whose voices are often missing, the resident-driven model helps build trust while taking into account the unique character of a town and the deep emotional connection of the people who live there—a town’s “Heart & Soul®.” These collective insights guide a community in making the best decisions about its future.

Community Heart & Soul continues to gain momentum across the country. The addition of Thomaston-Upson brings the total number of communities that have engaged in Community Heart & Soul to 44 in 17 states including: Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Washington.

About Upson EMC: Incorporated in 1937, Upson EMC is a member-owned electric membership cooperative serving portions of six counties including Upson, Pike, Talbot, Meriwether, Crawford and Taylor. It has over 1,352 miles of line serving 9,102 meters and 6,800 members. Upson EMC is one of 41electric cooperatives in Georgia. Cooperatives in Georgia serve 1.4 million meters and nationwide serve 12 million meters.

About Georgia EMC:
Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state’s 41 electric cooperatives, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. Collectively, Georgia’s customer-owned co-ops provide electricity and related services to 4.4 million people, nearly half of Georgia’s population, across 73 percent of the state’s land area. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Orton Family Foundation: The Orton Family Foundation is focused on building stronger, healthier and more economically vibrant small cities and towns across America. Founded in Vermont in 1995, the foundation devoted more than a decade to working with small towns to create a community development model that helps build trust and empowers residents to shape the future of their communities. Community Heart & Soul® projects are underway across the country creating positive change that is resident-driven and recognizes the value in the unique character of each place and the deep emotional connection of the people who live there.

Our Mission: Provide leadership and unity through advocacy, education and communications.

Georgia Electric Membership Corp. Headquarters
2100 E Exchange Place, Suite 510
Tucker, GA 30084

Front Desk: (770) 270-6950
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