UniSource Energy Services is working to improve the quality of life for our most vulnerable residents in three primary ways – through philanthropic investments, employee volunteerism and assistance programs for limited-income customers.
This year, UniSource plans to contribute nearly $180,000 to dozens of local nonprofit groups in our five-county service area that provide community assistance, such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and ensuring children and families receive basic health care.
In addition to supporting these services, UniSource funds efforts to improve education and protect the environment. Together, our contributions in these three focus areas total $400,000 annually. These funds come from corporate resources, not customers’ rates.
Community assistance takes many forms. For example, UniSource funds the Arizona Youth Partnership and Cornerstone Mission Project in Mohave County, which serve homeless youth and adults, and the Flagstaff Shelter Services’ emergency shelter program. Our gifts to the Arizona’s Children Association and Cornucopia Community Advocates in Yavapai County provide financial aid to struggling families with limited incomes.
UniSource contributions also help feed the hungry. We support food banks in Flagstaff, Kingman, Bullhead City, Nogales and Show Low as well as Prescott Valley’s Central Arizona Seniors Association, which delivers meals to homebound and disabled seniors to ensure they receive regular, nutritious meals.
Throughout the year, UniSource employees volunteer for many worthwhile charitable groups and causes in their communities. About one-fourth of our employees volunteer and, collectively, donate hundreds of hours each year to organizations that serve limited-income neighbors.
This past holiday season, our Lake Havasu employees hosted a food drive to benefit area food banks and participated in a toy drive organized by the local fire department. They also sponsored the O’Christmas Tree fundraiser to benefit Women With Willpower, which uses proceeds from the fundraiser to provide financial aid to struggling women.
In Kingman, employees rang bells for The Salvation Army’s kettle drive, and the Nogales UniSource team collected and donated toys and other essential items to benefit children and families through the Giving Turtle Project organized by the Santa Cruz Exchange Club.
“I volunteer for many charities to give back to my community and have a positive impact,” said Nikole White, Senior Program Manager for UniSource’s Renewable and Demand Side Resources, who serves meals at Kingman’s Cornerstone Mission.
“I want to a make difference in someone’s life by serving others who need a helping hand,” she said. “I am committed to being that person who spreads compassion and happiness and also teaching my children through example about kindness.”
Limited-Income Assistance Programs
Because we understand that sometimes customers face hardships and need help paying their bills, UniSource offers an assistance program and partners with other state agencies to offer assistance.
Eligible gas and electric customers can receive discounted rates through our CARES program. More than $1.6 Bill payment assistance also is available through our partner agencies.
Customers also may contribute to our Warm Spirit program to assist other customers who are unable to pay their bills because of emergency situations or hardships. UniSource pays the administrative costs for this program so that 100 percent of the donated funds go directly to help families in need. Over the past five years, more than $300,000 has been donated to the Warm Spirit program to assist nearly 1,300 families a year.
UniSource also works with partner agencies to offer free weatherization assistance to lower-income customers to reduce their monthly energy bills. This program complements the Federal Weatherization Assistance Program and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
“Our weatherization program gives residents tips on how to conserve energy and save money,” said Francisco Castro, who manages UniSource’s Demand Side Management Programs and Services. “We also provide free energy-efficiency retrofits, such as improved insulation, low-flow faucets and showerheads, and caulking and weather-stripping to qualified families.”
UniSource contributes more than $50,000 annually in unclaimed utility deposits to the Home Energy Assistance Fund (HEAF). The fund is administered by Wildfire (formerly the Arizona Community Action Association), a nonprofit advocacy group that assists lower-income residents and works to end poverty. HEAF distributes funds on a one-time basis to eligible customers to pay for heating/cooling system repairs or a utility deposit or bill.
“Giving back is part of our company culture,” said Wendy Erica Werden, UniSource Manager of Community Investment and Philanthropy. “As long as there are needs in our community, we will respond to create a stronger, healthier and more vibrant community for all residents.”