Category Archives: people

Jackie Bavaro #FuelingOurCommunities: Helping Those in Need

Natural gas utilities across our country continue to make impressive strides when it comes to #FuelingOurCommunities. Not only are our member companies committed to delivering natural gas safely and reliably to the more than 177 million Americans who depend on it, they also place great pride in their commitment to service for every member of their communities. This month we are spotlighting Consumers Energy and its inspiring effort to combat homelessness and extend a helping hand to those in need.

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Consumers Energy volunteers participating in West Michigan United Way’s Food from the Heart initiative.

In June, Consumers Energy welcomed 184 new and returning interns at their annual summer luncheon. In order to provide a true understanding of the philanthropic nature that exists at the company, interns are encouraged to take part in Consumers Energy 9th annual Intern Challenge, a month-long service project designed specifically for interns to give back to their local communities throughout the state. This year, interns volunteered at a variety of nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, Jackson Interfaith Shelter and Heart of West Michigan United Way, participating in the Food from the Heart Initiative. Participants remarked on how rewarding they found this initiative; last year, interns collected 3,500 items for food pantries and assembled 130 ready-to-prepare meals that fed 260 people eligible for assistance across Kalamazoo County.

Habiat2

Consumers Energy co-workers and interns building houses to support Michigan’s Habitat for Humanity.

In addition, in 2015, Consumers Energy raised more than $215,000 to go towards Michigan nonprofits on behalf of its 547 volunteers. Specifically, the company provided more than $105,000 to 30 higher educational institutions, 16 community foundations, 55 local food banks and 14 homeless shelters. Since 2001, Consumers Energy has contributed more than $955,000 to Habitat for Humanity and pledged an additional $200,000 from the Consumers Energy Foundation for its neighborhood revitalization initiative. The company believes this is a solid foundation for a long-term investment in improving the communities they work and live in.

AGA commends the remarkable efforts Consumers Energy is making to help their communities become a more vibrant and welcoming place. Please use the hashtag #FuelingOurCommunities to highlight how you and your company are giving back so we can promote your good work on our social media channels. Next month, we will be highlighting volunteer efforts geared toward taking care of the environment. Please share your initiatives with us to be featured on the True Blue Natural Gas blog.

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Lisa O'Leary #FuelingOurCommunities: So Others Might Eat (SOME)

IMG_5607Over the holidays, the American Gas Association (AGA) launched an industry-wide giving effort by designating December 2015 as Giving Month, encouraging its staff and natural gas members to volunteer time and make donations to charities in need.

The response was incredible, with support given to numerous nonprofits and local community partners across the country, including hunger relief organizations, military retirement communities, winter coat and toy drives for children, and laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery.

AGABecause of the great feedback and interest from AGA staff to continue this effort in Washington, D.C., monthly volunteer opportunities have continued at So Others Might Eat (SOME), an interfaith, community-based organization that assists the poor and homeless by serving meals to those in need in the area. Here are some of the things AGA staff have shared about their experiences thus far:

“Truly a wonderful experience – the folks that run SOME are really professional, caring and friendly people who make all feel welcome.”

“SOME is at the intersection of humanity where good comes to the assistance of need.”

“Volunteering at SOME is a wonderful opportunity to give a little of ourselves to those that are less fortunate.”

Sign outsideIn addition to feeding nearly 200 people each day, SOME offers services to help break the cycle of homelessness, such as affordable housing, job training, addiction treatment and counseling, to the poor, the elderly and individuals with mental illness.

AGA is grateful for the opportunity to continue to volunteer with SOME and looks forward to helping to serve hundreds of meals throughout the year. To look back on AGA’s members’ activities during the holiday season search #FuelingOurCommunities on Twitter.

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Tracy Burleson BLUESTAR® CELEBRATES PANTONE 2016 COLORS OF THE YEAR

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More homes use natural gas today than ever before and the numbers continue to increase. Due to the incredible gains we have made in energy efficiency, the average home uses 50 percent less natural gas than a home in 1970 despite homes today being 61 percent larger. When it comes to cooking, natural gas not only provides customers with an efficient option, but it can also offer a charming look when you cook—just ask BlueStar. A manufacturer of high performance appliances for the home, BlueStar invites you to bring home a new appliance  to adorn your kitchen with its take on the Pantone 2016 Colors of the Year—Rose Quartz or Pigeon Blue.

“The use of color in a kitchen can make a distinct and very personal statement,” says Eliza rose ovenSheffield, vice president of marketing, BlueStar. “It’s possible to create a stunning focal point with a range and kitchen hood that is customized to your personal taste and cooking preference—from the choice of colors and trims, to the configuration and power of the burners.”

Available in more than 750 colors and finishes, and with almost infinite configuration possibilities, BlueStar® premium products offer virtually unlimited personalization options. To view the possibilities, BlueStar offers an interactive website tool, “Build Your Own BlueStar,” which allows you to customize everything from the intensity of the burners to the color of the knobs and the range itself.

Handcrafted in Reading, PA since 1880, BlueStar® cooking products are designed for discerning home chefs who demand restaurant-quality results in their own kitchens. The BlueStar® product line features high-performance gas ranges, cooktops, wall ovens and hoods. BlueStar notes that unique performance features include an open gas burner system that produces up to 25,000 BTUs of cooking power, precise 130 degree simmer burners, blue ovenand oversized convection ovens with professional-grade infrared broilers.

For more information, please visit www.bluestarcooking.com or visit the American Gas Association booth C2615 at the 2016 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas on January 19 through 21 to see Bluestar products.

*Statements of fact or opinion in this blog post are the responsibility of Bluestar alone and do not imply an opinion or endorsement on the part of the American Gas Association.

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Lisa O'Leary AGA Members Draw Awareness to Safe Digging on 811 Day

On August 11, the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) once again commemorated National 811 Day to promote safe digging practices and the Call Before You Dig campaign. No matter the type and size of digging project – from installing a mailbox to building a patio or deck, it is always critical  to call 811 several days prior to digging to identify the approximate location of underground utility lines, including natural gas. Excavation damage continues to be the leading cause of natural gas pipeline incidents across the country, though improvements are being made thanks to the education and outreach by CGA, local natural gas utilities and other stakeholders.

Each year on 811 Day, the American Gas Association’s (AGA’s) member companies work to educate their customers and the communities they serve about the importance of calling 811 before digging. The following highlights showcase many of the activities AGA’s members and partners participated in to help raise awareness about calling 811:

Image Credit: PHMSA

Image Credit: PHMSA

Throughout the month of July, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) took over the Navy Yard/Nationals Park Metro station in Washington, D.C. with 811 banners, posters and other signage.

Image Courtesy of CGA

Image Courtesy of CGA

On August 6, DOT and PMSA hosted a pre-baseball game event at the Washington Nationals’ stadium with Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez and this year’s winner of Energy Safe Kids’ annual 811 poster contest. Safe digging procedures and Call 811 were promoted during all five baseball games prior to August 11, most notably on a banner directly behind home plate.

Image Credit: CenterPoint Energy

Image Credit: CenterPoint Energy

CenterPoint Energy in Houston, TX hosted a downtown block party complete with food and prizes, while the utility’s Minnesota branch teamed up with marking companies for the annual 811 5k Run/Walk followed by a kids fun run, awards ceremony, prizes and safety fair. All proceeds from the 5k benefitted Operation Warm, an organization that provides warm winter coats to children in need.

Image Credit: CGA

Image Credit: AGA

Pacific Gas & Electric, along with CGA and other stakeholders, had the honor of ringing the New York Stock Exchange closing bell in front of a large Call 811 banner on 8/11. Click here to watch the archived video from the event.

columbia gas 811 cake

Image Credit: Columbia Gas of PA

Things got a little wild at the Washington Wild Things baseball game on 8/11 thanks to Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania. Tickets were just $8.11 and Digger Dog threw out the first pitch.  In addition to the game, Columbia Gas distributed special 811-themed cakes  to local radio stations to help drive awareness during the morning commute and online.

Image Credit: Victor Espinoza/Twitter

Image Credit: Victor Espinoza/Twitter

Call 811-sponsored jockey and Triple Crown winner Victor Espinoza once again took to his Twitter page to remind customers to call 811 before beginning any digging projects, big or small.

In addition to 811 Day, the month of April is National Safe Digging Month (NSDM). As part of their ongoing commitment to safety, AGA member companies air PSAs and TV spots, host events and contests, and carry out social media campaigns to promote safe digging. If you are a natural gas utility, let us know about future Call 811 activities in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what your utility has in the works and to share your activities on AGA’s social media pages and blog. You can also email loleary@aga.org.

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