(Story as published in the SunTimes)
Kristy Nicol says it “breaks her heart” to hear stories of people in the community being without hydro or heat this winter.
“I think about my own children and what it would be like trying to find a way to make it so they can sleep at night,” the vice-president of client services at Nicol Insurance said Wednesday in an interview.
So after learning the United Way of Bruce Grey’s utility assistance fund had run out of money, Nicol and her colleagues decided to do something to help.
The company has made a donation to the fund, while issuing a challenge to other local businesses to contribute $100.
“I think all of us are hoping that the community recognizes that there are people in our area that are struggling and as a community, as a business community, we have a responsibility to those people to make sure that they’re looked after,” she said.
“We live and work in the same community as them, their kids play sports with our kids and they help us to pay our bills; they buy from us and support us. So we need to help them. When people are in need, we need to help them.”
Nicol issued the $100 challenge on Facebook and staff at the company are also mentioning it to their clients.
So far, companies like Dr. Cobbler, Barebirch and others have accepted the challenge.
Bob Nicol, president and CEO of Nicol Insurance, said he would also like to see individuals match the $100 donation, if they are financially able to do so.
“We hope to bring awareness to this issue as well,” he said.
By the end of October, all of the United Way’s utility assistance funds had dried up.
Thirty-three families are currently on a waiting list for the agency’s community fund, which helps people purchase wood, oil and propane to heat their homes. The value of the requests is about $18,500. Money for that fund comes only from donations.
The United Way has also run out of the 2014 funds to help people in arrears with Union Gas, Hydro One and Westario Power.
There are also waiting lists for each of those funds. The money comes from the utility companies themselves, which are mandated by the Ontario Energy Board to provide a small chunk of their revenue to fund utility assistance programs throughout the province. Qualifying customers can receive up to $500 per utility per calendar year.
So far this year, the local United Way has processed $304,000 worth of applications for utility assistance.
Thanks to our staff for getting the word out and for our clients & others businesses in our communities for getting involved! There is still time to donate!