Dear Co-op Member-owners and supporters,
With all my heart, I hope my letter finds you, your families and communities well during this international crisis. It is a trying time as COVID-19 brings both health and economic risk to our families and communities.
While ROC USA® and all of our Technical Assistance affiliates in Network are working remotely, we are doing so effectively and with a primary focus on how we assist co-op communities over the next few months.
First, ROC USA® Network and TA providers have issued guidance to ROC Boards of Directors on conducting co-op decision-making during this period of social distancing. Democracy is at the heart of cooperative ownership. There are tools and methods to help you manage decision-making so business and community operations can continue to meet the need. Our friends at Northcountry Cooperative Foundation put together a great guide in a newsletter you can read here.
Second, we encourage you to reach out with ideas and questions, for us and for your peers in other ROCs. We know you find connecting with peers motivating and helpful. Please register or sign into myROCUSA.org to pose a question or share an insight or resource. There’s a discussion already started. Facebook is another connector.
Third, I know you want to be a resource to your community. My advice for reliable information on COVID-19 is to refer people to the Centers for Disease Control and each state’s health department website.
Also, for assistance of any kind, a good place to start in each state is to suggest people call 211 or visit www.211.org. The 211 system is a free and confidential service available in all 50 states. They can refer people to health services and financial assistance.
Fourth, the ROC Association and ROC USA have dedicated $10,000 to help ROC households that have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to pay site-fees. Please consider donating and, if you or a neighbor test positive for COVID-19, please see the simple application.
Both links are included here.
Last, for ROC USA® Capital borrowers, this is the type of situation that loan conditions like Working Capital, Debt Service Coverage and Debt Service Reserve are built to absorb. In business, unforeseen situations do arise and being prepared for them is good ownership and good lending.
While strong underpinnings like the noted loan conditions and good financial management are the norm, I recognize this particular shock is widespread, came on with urgency, and no one knows when it will end. That causes anxiety understandably.
In response, ROC USA Capital has dedicated a special team that is already reaching out directly to borrowers. They will be working closely with you over the coming months. The Board of Directors has added tools to the team’s toolbox to help borrowers through this period. Our goal is to help every ROC borrower stay current on its bills. Members who can pay site-fees despite the economic crisis are highly encouraged to – your co-op needs you!
In trying times like this, individual ROCs shine because they are engaged and mutually supportive neighborhoods. I am seeing many examples of kindness and generosity. Thank you to all who are stepping up in myriad ways. Just do so with great caution, please.
ROCs have been through trying times before. In 1989, 2001, and 2008-09, co-ops proved themselves resilient, and will again come through this shock.
ROCs in ROC USA Network also benefit from peers, regional TA providers and a national team that is wholly dedicated to supporting one another through thick and thin. In fact, as ROC USA’s founding president, I chose Better Together as our tagline because I knew, whatever we – you, me, us – would face, we’ll get through it together. You are better together with your neighbors and as a community, you are better together with other like communities and your nonprofit partners.
We will get through this together. Be safe. Take care.
Paul Bradley, President
ROC USA, LLC