Yesterday was the day that we’ve all been working towards — the lights came on in Buena Vista!

One of the locals, Ofelia De Leon, invited several of us to be with his family when the lights came on in their house for the very first time. You could feel the anticipation in the air as we all gathered together inside their small mountain home. Ofelia had the honor of flipping the switch, and when the light came on everyone began clapping. The room radiated with happiness — there was plenty of smiling, laughter, and even some tears. It was a very emotional experience, and by far my proudest moment in 26 years of linework.

As a lineman, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from restoring power after a big storm back home, but what we experienced last night was nothing short of a miracle to these villagers. Ofelia made a short speech, thanking us and telling us how it would change their lives. It was like a step back in time. This is what it must have felt like when the co-ops brought electricity to rural America over 75 years ago. This is what the electric co-op program is all about, and I’m honored to share in that heritage.

It was cold and rainy as we left their home last night, but looking through the foggy haze you could see the warm glow of electric lights. Every house in the village was outfitted with two lights, one inside and one outside. I had to pause for a moment on my walk back to camp. I just stood there in the rain and smiled to myself when it occurred to me that I no longer needed a flashlight to make my way through the schoolyard.

All of us linemen were a little cold, wet and tired, but so satisfied, and grateful for this amazing experience. It literally took a village to get to this point, but we made it!

-Contributed by Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Safety Instructor, Dan K.