Grateful Wisconsin Co-op Employee Pays Member’s $300 Electric Bill

Dave and Heather Chavie and their daughter, Sophia, center, at the family’s home. (Photo By: David Chavie)
Dave and Heather Chavie and their daughter, Sophia, center, at the family’s home. (Photo By: David Chavie)

Pierce Pepin Cooperative Service’s David Chavie said he’s “not an overly spiritual person,” but two memorable encounters with a member have him marveling at the power of human connections.

“There are certain things in life that really bring home the point that life is more than just going about your business,” said Chavie, an engineering technician at the Ellsworth, Wisconsin-based co-op.

In April, Chavie was dispatched to the Prescott home of co-op member Joanne Christiansen to investigate a high-bill complaint. It wasn’t his first time at the house. “I recognized her from several years ago, when I was there on an appliance repair call.”

Chavie and Christiansen had a conversation during that first visit that Chavie never forgot.

“She learned my story that my wife, Heather, and I had been married for eight years and were unable to have children at that point. She took the time to say a prayer with me and asked that we be granted a family. And it worked out! A month later we got pregnant and then had a beautiful daughter,” said Chavie, whose daughter, Sophia, is now almost 9.

Chavie said he meant to follow up with Christiansen but “you know how things slip by the wayside.” Fast forward to this year when Chavie was dispatched to Christiansen’s house again to investigate the bill complaint.

“She remembered me and asked a lot of questions about my daughter. It was an emotional moment for both us,” Chavie said. “Of course, this is during the time of COVID-19, so I couldn’t hug her or shake hands.”

But Chavie realized he could do something special after all. A malfunctioning pump had run Christiansen’s bill up to about $300, causing great worry for the 83-year-old woman.

“I said goodbye, drove down the driveway and called Heather, and we decided we would take care of her electric bill.”

Chavie drove back up the driveway and knocked on Christiansen’s door to tell her of their decision.

“I was shocked,” she said.” My two sons were here, and they were shocked, too. I’m really thankful (Chavie) was here and that he came back to let me know what happened with that prayer.”

A few days later, Christiansen stopped by the co-op’s main office with a thank-you letter for Chavie, which he framed and hung on the wall in his home office.

“We’re not publicity seekers,” said Chavie. “But we just feel like it’s important, especially during this time of social isolation and bad news, that there’s good stuff going on in the world.”

Victoria A. Rocha is a staff writer at NRECA.