My grandfather grew up as a pastor’s kid on a small farm in Pocatello, Idaho. One of thirteen siblings, (11 boys, bless my granny), he often talked about the hard work it took to survive- both his siblings and life in general. As I reflect on 2020, I think about my grandfather’s calloused hands, his smart wit and his faith that things would turn out alright.
I’m not going to list the litany of grievances I have with 2020. I’m sure you have your own. But I continue to be humbled by the communities and businesses we have the privilege to serve. The Avista Foundation donated more than $4 million to local non-profits last year. But more important than the cash, was the grit of the leaders, the business owners, the employees, and the neighbors who put that money to work to help others.
When the Covid restrictions hit we saw businesses close and then reopen with new models. We saw school teachers go door to door to check on families and kids. Our regional business managers worked with public and private partners to build strategies for advocacy, to support vulnerable families and seniors, to help people adapt to unprecedented stressors. During the most egregious Labor Day storms in our company’s history, the people of our service territory rolled up their sleeves to support the Washington towns of Malden, Pine City and Inchelium, along with Talent and Phoenix in Oregon. People met their communities amongst the embers and began to rebuild.
Avista has served communities for more than 130 years. We’ve served through the Great Depression, the Spanish Flu, countless wars, and social unrest.
We will continue serving in 2021.
We’ll work with our Economic Development Councils (EDCs) and Chambers of Commerce to provide tools to businesses that are recovering. We’ll remain committed to our efforts with rural communities including support for their initiatives like broadband and main street revitalization. We’ll partner with our cities, and counties to drive growth and restoration. We’ll get calloused hands, we’ll work together, and it will turn out alright.
Latisha Hill is Avista’s Vice President of Community and Economic Vitality. In this role, she has been front and center as Avista has responded to the impact of the pandemic on the communities we serve – working closely with non-profit organizations, elected officials, business organizations and even Governor Jay Inslee to listen, leverage and help.
Latisha writes about the year we’ve just survived, but mostly about what she and Avista are looking forward to in 2021.