Project Share has helped with utility assistance since 1988
Huntsville Utilities asks you to add a little something extra to your bill this month. In fact, you can make a tax-deductible gift all year long to help people in need of utility assistance through Project Share.
Project Share launched in 1988 to help elderly, disabled and handicapped customers pay utility bills during the winter months. One hundred percent of funds contributed to Project Share go directly to those in need, and to date, the community has contributed upwards of $4.5 million to help 24,596 families with utility assistance.
It used to be that the money went to help people pay their utility bills, but a change was made to the program a few years ago. Now, when possible, a team assesses the person’s home to make upgrades and improve efficiency, with the goal of reducing future bills. Leon Wass is Energy Services Supervisor at Huntsville Utilities, and helps determine what these homes need, then coordinates with local contractors to put solutions in place.
Work may include putting in insulation or caulking windows and doors, which will help keep warm air in. There’s another possible step, though. The customer may have an old heating and air system, barely hanging on. In some cases, workers will install a ductless mini-split system to take the strain off that older unit.
“These are highly efficient — they use very little energy to do what they do. This supplemental system will heat and cool roughly about 600 square feet,” explained Wass. “We try to put that in an area of the house where people spend the majority of the time, usually the TV area, so at least that part of the house is comfortable. We believe when they are comfortable, it increases their quality of life.”
Wass said people are grateful to receive this help, and it makes it all worth it.
“The appreciation we get from them, seeing them go from the fear in their eye, to knowing if their unit goes out, they won’t be freezing, to see their electric bill go down so they can buy medicine or something else they might need, because it didn’t go toward their utility bill… those are some of the stories we get, that’s what keeps us doing what we’re doing,” Wass said. “There definitely is a feeling that we helped someone, which is what we’re here to do.”
Project Share contributors
Many contribute to Project Share, including individuals, businesses and churches. Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Huntsville has supported the program for more than 20 years.
“Our Christian faith tells us that our first fruits should be given back in Jesus’ name, and what better way to do it than help those in need in our community,” said Susan Wandler, who is on the church’s tithe committee. “There are so many who could use your support. Sometimes they just need a hand up, and this is such an easy way to help.”
It’s easy to give
Many of us have friends or family members who might be hard to shop for, or say they don’t need any gifts. Why not make a donation in their names? Your gift goes a long way to help those in need, right here in our community. You can donate by adding to this month’s payment, and there is a special note in your recent bill to add names and addresses, so that person will receive notification about your gift.
Or, call Huntsville Utilities at 256-535-1200 to ask that a permanent amount be added to your monthly bill. Your donation is tax deductible.
by Claire Aiello
This article appears in our December 2019 issue of Initiatives magazine, a publication of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.