There’s one thing we know for sure—When people are hurting, Memphis steps up. Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) is now giving testament to that fact, offering an easy way for us to participate in helping our neighbors in need.
Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, about 39,000 residential and commercial customers have fallen behind on their utility payments. These total an enormous $30 million, as many Memphians have found themselves in real trouble.
In response, MLGW is encouring friends, family, and neighbors to pay someone’s utility bill through their Gift of Comfort program. So far, several generous businesses and individuals have assisted 87 families by paying almost $24,000 in utility bills:
- Joshua Stewart was among the first to lend a helping hand in his former hometown. Stewart owns Its An M’pire LLC in Greensboro, N.C. He gave MLGW $10,000 to help 50 families with their utility bills.
“It might be a Band-Aid to some,” Stewart said, “but an extra 30 or 60 days of lights could change somebody’s whole year.”
- Bella Vita, the beloved Germantown gift shop, created a store fundraiser that resulted in paying $2,500 in utility bills for six families in Southeast Shelby County. “Bella Vita came through at a time when I needed it the most,” said customer Sophia Garland who has a compromised immune system from breast cancer, and has been unable to return to work due to COVID-19.
- Reaves Law Firm gladly paid the utility bills for 29 families in Whitehaven that totaled just over $9,200. After the photo was taken, attorney Henry E. Reaves III paid another customer’s utility bill for $778 – making his total donation nearly $10,000.
- Van Phillips, who teaches a class at the Glenview Community Center in Memphis, paid a $1,200 utility bill for the family of one of his straight-A students. “Since the schools have gone virtual, the last thing my student needs is to have her utilities cut off in her home,” Phillips said. “That cuts off her education.
“The generosity shown allows people to have a little bit of breathing room on their utility bills,” said MLGW Vice President of Community & External Affairs Gale Jones Carson. “It’s one less bill they’ll have to worry about when so many people are hurting now.”