Basin Electric member supports organization changing people’s lives

April Cundy and her mom, Linda.

For nearly 60 years, Basin Electric Class A member East River Electric Power Cooperative has been supporting LifeScape, a South Dakota-based organization with the goal of helping disabled children and adults live their best lives.

East River Electric’s annual “mountain oyster” feed, held every spring for the past 57 years in Madison (a silent auction was held virtually for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic), has raised nearly $850,000 to help fund Lifescape’s mission. But, while East River’s support has benefited thousands of people over the years, there is one person in particular that is dear to the hearts of East River and its employees.  

April Cundy’s family is from Madison, South Dakota, the city where East River is headquartered. At a young age, April was diagnosed with Angelman syndrome, a rare condition that affects her motor skills, including her ability to speak.

When she was in school in Madison, it became apparent that April needed more help than the public school could provide, so she began attending LifeScape’s specialty school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“Having that connection to someone from our community who uses LifeScape’s services has really amped up our commitment because we see firsthand the positive impact these services have had on the life of someone from right here in our neighborhood,” says Jennifer Gross, education and outreach coordinator at East River Electric.

LifeScape’s specialty school helped April develop skills that help her in her daily life and gave her the structure she thrives in. It also helped her find a way to bring out the creativity that had always lived inside her, but until recently hadn’t come out.


Becuase she has difficulty handling small, delicate

objects such as paintbrushes, April Cundy uses larger items

to create unique designs and textures in her artwork. 


“Her mom said that when she first started painting on canvas, her face just lit up. Because she has difficulty handling small, delicate objects, April doesn’t use paintbrushes, she uses larger items like rollers and chains, which create very unique designs and textures. Her work is quite beautiful,” Gross says.

Today, April has graduated from high school and lives in one of LifeScape’s group homes in Sioux Falls where she is able to live as independently as she can. She is also a well-known artist in South Dakota, who has participated in art shows and sells her work in several different formats.

And, while East River’s support of LifeScape has definitely impacted April’s life, April’s life has made a big impact on East River Electric, as well. Her positive attitude and caring personality have inspired the cooperative to create the April Cundy Award, which it gives annually to an East River employee who shows compassion, care, and consideration for his or her colleagues. “That is how April lives her life. She may have been born with some challenges, but she is so caring and sincere and has a way of making people happy,” Gross says. “She is truly living her best life and East River is so proud to be part of that.”

Read more about the partnership between East River and LifeScape in the fall 2021 issue of Basin Today magazine: Living their best lives: East River Electric supports individuals with differing abilities.

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