Be the light: Offering charity with dignity

The Basin Electric ad campaign “Be the Light” shows how Basin Electric and its member cooperatives can be the light in communities and homes like only a cooperative can.

When most husbands and wives think of “date nights,” they likely think of a nice dinner, a movie, or a concert or some other event. But when Reiley and Theresa McKendrick head out for their weekly date, they get ready to wash dishes and clear tables.

For more than six months, the McKendricks have been volunteering at The Banquet, a free community meal with the goal of serving the hungry, hurting, and needy in the Bismarck, North Dakota, community with compassion and caring.

Reiley, a night-shift service dispatcher at Basin Electric, says they began volunteering after Theresa attended an event where a representative of The Banquet spoke about the event and mentioned they were looking for volunteers.

“It started as a way for us to just get out of the house and do something together,” Reiley says. “Then we started making friends with a group of people that volunteer pretty consistently, and now it’s something we both look forward to doing each week. I’m a home body, so I was skeptical at first, but now I really enjoy it.”

While Theresa makes her rounds in the dining room, Reiley is content back in the kitchen washing dishes. “Even though I’m not working directly with the people who come for the meal, I can see them from the kitchen and it’s obvious how grateful they are to get a good, healthy meal.”


Basin Electric service dispatchers Jeff Dietrich and Reiley McKendrick regularly volunteer at The Banquet, a free community meal in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Reiley says a majority of the people who attend are in need, but some come because they are lonely and like the companionship. There are also several group homes that bring disabled clients, and others who just enjoy the social aspect. But that’s OK, because the meal is open to everyone.

Since becoming involved, Riley encourages others to do the same, even if it’s just once. A generally quiet man, his passion about the event has led others to volunteer, including fellow service dispatcher Jeff Dietrich, who filled in for him on dish duty one night when he got sick and couldn’t go. Since then, Jeff has begun volunteering pretty regularly, as well.

“Volunteering at The Banquet makes me feel like I am giving back to my community,” Reiley says. “It has made me realize how fortunate I am and that many people haven’t had the same opportunities I’ve been given in my life. The meal is a way to offer charity with dignity, which everyone deserves. It’s a very rewarding experience.”

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