Cultivating Communities: Teri Dunlavy

Often when you contact a Harvest Land location you may not know the person on the other end of the line. Those conversations are typically all business and very transactional. But what if you knew a little more about the person working to serve your from your local farmer-owned cooperative?

Every so often we’d like to introduce you to a Harvest Land employee and tell their cultivating communities story. Today marks the first entry in our Cultivating Communities series.

Our employees continue to find opportunities to cultivate communities in creative ways. We ask every employee (more than 300) to commit 8 hours annually to community service. It’s interesting to hear where employees dedicate their 8 hours and what community groups are special to them once they leave work for the day.

Teri Dunlavy is our Credit Manager and works out of the Richmond administrative office. We’ll let her tell you about what that role entails:

“My role with Harvest Land Co-op Inc., is Credit Manager.  I, along with my staff, Rachel Osborne and Tammy Fox, are responsible for monitoring the collection of our accounts receivable.  With an established account we allow our customers in the agriculture, commercial fuels and home heat portions of our business to charge product they use to an account and pay for it at a later date.  We evaluate new applications, review credit worthiness and set credit limits. If a customer does not pay for the product they have charged, we then have to collect payment.  While we are in the collecting phase, we have to get communication from the customer, find out what is going on that delayed payment and see if we can reach a mutual repayment plan all the while deciding if we can continue to provide goods and services or if we have stop future deliveries of product until we have been paid.  Customers paying for the product they buy from us directly affects our ability to continue to be in business, serve our customers and generate income to be able to pay our bills and our employees.  I also spend some extra time in our agronomy area with getting information out about financing options that allow our growers to spread repayment out to harvest and match their cash flows while at the same time reducing our exposure risk and hopefully providing them with a cost saving benefit.

We spend a large amount of time in front of our computer screens, on the telephone and even out with our customers, more often on the agronomy side, getting to know their needs and becoming familiar with them so that if something does happen to their prompt payments, we can identify problems as quickly as possible and limit our risks of exposure for loss.  We spend time making sure we have accounts set up in the correct names and that the people using products are the people holding the accounts.  Within our department, we sometimes describe what we do in this way:

We are like Walmart or your local grocery store only our groceries are seed, fuel, chemicals and grain.  Our department allows our customers to get their groceries and walk out the door with a promise to pay the next month.  We have to be able to identify the customers that we feel comfortable walking out the door with groceries on a promise to pay and hold accountable those that need to pay before they leave!”

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For five days in June, Teri volunteered at Royal Family KIDS camp in rural Indiana. The camp is exclusively for children in the foster care system. Thirty-two children (16 boys, 16 girls) spent five days exploring, creating, singing, listening, learning, tearing apart and building back up again, all while beginning each day with a Bible lesson to carry with them throughout the day.

So how did Teri get involved with this organization?

“Our church has been providing a camp under the Royal Family KIDS organization for 16 years.  Before and after camp, our camp director and some of the staff share about the camp experience with the congregation.  I had listened to their updates over the years and this year camp was during a week that Mike was going to be gone for a corporate meeting, our kids are both out on their own in what we refer to as “Big Kid Land” and my schedule was wide open to be available.  It’s a rare thing when all the excuses a person makes for NOT doing a something are simply removed and the door seems to open wider and wider.  This year was that year for me so I took it as sort of an it is meant to be thing and I signed up!  Camp takes 2 adults for every child and at 32 kids, we needed over 60 adults.  Camp  staff is on site from Sunday through Friday and kids are with us Monday to Friday.  I told our director to just put me where she needed someone the most.  I got photographer!  There were 3 of us and you might think that would be over-done however, with fishing, swimming, archery, horseback riding and multiple craft areas each day there is a LOT of activity going on.  The kids each get an individualized photo book of happy camp memories to take home with them at the end of the week.  The challenging part is that the photos can’t contain any of the other children unless they are of the same family. 

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During the week at camp, the kids get to play with no worries and no strings attached.  They don’t have to worry where food will come from or if there will be any adult drama or dangerous drama for them to deal with.  The kids range in ages from 6 to 11.  After 11, they graduate out of the program.  That is one of the bitter sweet things as an 11 year old is still really a kid!”

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The children who attend this camp come from various backgrounds, but something that lacks with each is stability. Unfortunately, the children are shuffled around a lot depending on home and family situations. But for these five days, the camp’s goal is to provide great stability, care, encouragement and love.

Royal Family Kids Camp even has a surprise birthday party day where every child is celebrated as though it’s their birthday and receives presents! Can you imagine the joy in that room on that particular day?

Teri went on to say this about her experience:

“I’m very blessed as I grew up in a family with my mom, dad, brother and sister all living together and in the same location for 17 of the 22 years I lived at home.  Mom and dad still live on my childhood farm.  I was slightly familiar with the foster care system as we had a foster child for a few months while I was in middle school, I have an aunt raising grandchildren so that they would not become part of the foster system and in following a co-worker with her journey to adopt her daughter.  Mike and I moved a few times early in our marriage but were able to raise our children together in the same home where we have been for 24 years (our kids are 27 and 23) on his family farm with his parents living just down the road.  It’s hard for me to think that it’s not that way for all children and families.  Giving one week to create a happy experience for kids who don’t get to experience that same stability and family together experience seemed like a small thing.  Now that I have done it, I realize that it IS only a small portion but hopefully one that leaves an impression on these kids as they grow up and that provides a happy childhood memory.

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It is fascinating to hear how people spend their time after the business doors are locked for the night and the lights are shut down. Everyone has something they’re passionate about outside of the office.

Dunlavy family pic
Teri is in the center, surrounded by her family.

Thank you, Teri, for sharing your personal story

of how you cultivate communities

outside the walls of Harvest Land.

We’re quite proud to have you on our team.

 

 

 

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