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Since the beginning of COVID-19, Blue Ridge Energy made the decision to suspend disconnects, waive late fees and offer special payment plans to assist our members and customers during this difficult time. While the decision had already been made to extend these special circumstances, Gov. Cooper also issued a new Executive Order 142 on May 30. We encourage everyone (including Flexpay members) to continue paying your energy bill to avoid a large balance at the end of this crisis. Call us at 1-800-451-5474 to set up a special payment plan or ask us about crisis assistance from the In This Together Relief Fund.
Watauga Community Helping Agencies Receive Foundation Grants
(Back row l-r): Vicky Haile, Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center; Kristian Jackson and Colton Johnson, Boone Area Cyclists; Zach Green and Diane Sprague, Mountain Alliance; Tom Trueman, LIFE Village, Inc.; Crystal Kelly, Children’s Council of Watauga County; Heidi Ragan, Watauga district manager; Tamara DiVenere, Children’s Council of Watauga County; JB Lawrence, Blue Ridge Energy Board of Directors; Sara Crouch, OASIS, Inc.; Joy Coffey and Tom Trexler, Blue Ridge board member.
Watauga County citizens will benefit from 10 grants worth $39,144 awarded recently to local helping agencies from Blue Ridge Energy Members Foundation for the 2019 grant cycle.
The grants are examples of why the cooperative established the Members Foundation in 2007 to support the work of community organizations providing services that improve the quality of life for the cooperative’s members. Since 2007, the Foundation has awarded over $1.3 million in community grants. Projects in the areas of health, wellness, education, youth, and economic and community development are the Foundation’s priorities for support.
A grand total of $173,000 was awarded to 30 different organizations across the Blue Ridge service area. Local Watauga County agencies receiving grant awards include:
- Boone Area Cyclists - $2,000 to help purchase equipment for volunteers to create more beginner and intermediate mountain bike trails in Rocky Knob Park;
- Children’s Council of Watauga County - $5,000 to support the many family programs offered such as family literacy, parenting classes, teen parenting program as well as other programs that support families in time of need;
- Community Care Clinic - $3,000 to support behavioral health services;
- Hospitality House of Northwest North Carolina - $5,000 to support the WeCAN program that provides critical homeless prevention and crisis assistance services for low income families;
- Hunger & Health Coalition – $5,000 to help purchase reusable grocery bags for the food pantry program;
- LIFE Village, Inc. - $7,500 in funding to help an inclusive residential community for adults with autism and their related challenges live as independently as possible;
- Mountain Alliance - $3,000 to support the “School’s Out” after school program at Watauga High School that helps students with academic support, free snacks and school supplies;
- OASIS, Inc. - $2,000 to help fund the client utility assistance program;
- Reaching Avery Ministries - $2,000 to support the emergency food program;
- Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center - $4,644 to assist the facility in offering free therapeutic riding/equine facilitated learning for accepted clients.
During 2019, the Foundation also provided crisis funding assistance to more than 1,000 Blue Ridge Energy members in need of emergency help to pay their electric bills. While crisis assistance is funded by the Foundation, local helping agencies evaluate needs and determine who qualifies for assistance.
Funding for Foundation grants and crisis assistance comes from members participating in Blue Ridge Energy’s Operation Round Up® and Operation Round Up Plus® programs as well as a annual contributions from profits of the cooperative’s subsidiaries, Blue Ridge Energy, LLC and Ridgelink. Over 25,000 members are either rounding up their monthly electric bill with Operation Round Up or adding a dollar or more with Operation Round Up Plus. Members also contribute by donating some or all of their annual capital credits.
Anyone with questions about the Foundation, or agencies interested in applying for grants, may contact Grey Scheer, director of community relations, at 828-759-8994 or email@example.com.
Blue Ridge Energy is a cooperative utility serving some 76,000 members in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Wilkes and Alexander counties. For more information, visit www.BlueRidgeEnergy.com.