It’s the most wonderful time of the year – giving season. But for Consumers Energy employees, giving isn’t just for one season – it’s year around. And while many Michigan non-profits and neighbors benefit from our co-workers’ generosity – there is one organization we team up with every year to support through individual and corporate donations – the United Way. With more than 40 locations spread across Michigan in many of the same places our co-workers live and work, it is a great opportunity for us to come together and make a difference for a great cause as a company and also make a local difference and help our neighbors. From Boyne City to Coldwater and Royal Oak to Muskegon our co-workers’ generosity spans as far as the United Ways do across our great state.
Each September we hold a company-wide campaign where employees can make pledges to help support local United Ways. And every year our co-workers show up big for our neighbors. And it’s not just current co-workers, although they are a big part of it. It takes all of us showing up to support the cause – in addition to our co-workers, the company, retirees and the Consumers Energy Foundation give in a way that has allowed us to consistently contribute more than $1 million each year for the last 20 years. Even in some of the toughest times, our co-workers show up. They make a difference for United Way because they know United Way makes a difference in our communities.
And it’s not all about financial donations – our co-workers are actively engaged as volunteers. They serve on United Way boards, participate in Days of Caring, help make decisions on funding community projects and actively volunteer for United Way partner agencies.
The United Way has been a trusted partner for decades. Spread out across Michigan, they are equipped to assess and focus on the specific needs of each community. They are also uniquely positioned to leverage relationships with hundreds of local and statewide non-profit agencies to create real, lasting change for our neighbors in need.
When a crisis hits one of our communities, the United Way is first to respond. Whether it is unsafe drinking water in Flint, the COVID-19 pandemic, flooding in Midland or most recently, the tornado in Gaylord – the United Way is first on the scene to help those affected. And while they make an incredible difference during times of crisis, on a day-to-day basis they are focused on preventative efforts vs. corrective efforts. In other words, they fund programs and assist organizations that are focused on preventing potential issues before they happen.
During a time when many of us want to help but don’t know where our donations will do the most good, we trust that the United Way knows best. They are well-equipped to have a wide reach and make the greatest impact. They leverage existing relationships and build new ones to help their nonprofit partners work more efficiently, make sure Michigan residents have basic essentials all while responding to emerging crisis situations and creating new programs to address longstanding problems. Because of their unique situation the United Way can take a $50 donation and can turn it into $500 or even $1,000.
Many of The United Way programs are focused on ALICE – asset limited, income constrained, employed individuals. The ALICE population represents hard-working Michiganders that make too much money to receive government funding but are only one major expense away from financial disaster – think a car repair, broken water heater or unplanned medical bill. And even without being impacted by a significant expense they do not earn enough to afford basic necessities. Work is being done across the state to help the ALICE population and in Jackson alone there are 24 programs and initiatives underway to help individuals and families build pathways to financial stability. Individuals can find more about these programs and other assistance opportunities with a simple call to 2-1-1.
2-1-1, A United Way program, offers a free one-stop connection to thousands of local agencies and resources that can help with overdue bills, rent assistance, shelter for the night and more. You can dial 2-1-1 for assistance or visit their website to search their database of programs and services.
At Consumers Energy we pride ourselves in delivering hometown service by creating positive change in our communities through corporate giving and our foundation. Giving to the United Way and other nonprofit organizations across Michigan is one of the ways we put our Care cultural value into action.
You can find more about the United Way, including volunteer opportunities by visiting their website. Help is available for your energy bill this winter. You can also call us at 800-477-5050 or visit ConsumersEnergy.com/assistance.