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Bridge the Gap

[UPDATED:  I’m editing this post on October 22, 2016.  The original post was from November of 2012, when we launched the Bridge the Gap initiative at Centerstone.  Each year around this time I update and edit this post but leave the original below so that the original concept and purpose will be preserved.  This year, it’s as important as ever that we raise the full $50,000 that will allow us to successfully bridge the gap for everyone in need.  This year, we are upping our game with a special edition candle that will be sold and will make a great gift, where all the profits will be donated to Centerstone’s Bridge the Gap campaign, along with all of our individual donations via the donation page.  I will add in more details on the candle, with links to purchase, once those are available next month.  One way or the other, we are going to raise the full goal this year and have a direct impact in our community!  Huge thank you to everyone who is reading this, spreading the word, and contributing to this campaign either directly or by buying one of the special candles :).]

Last year [2011], during the holidays, I read a story about a woman who walked into City Hall in Iowa and paid $1,600 to pay off the delinquent water bills for 17 families to make sure they had running water for the holidays.  This really touched me, and so I called the local water utility in Seattle and asked if I could do the same thing for families in need for the holidays in Seattle.  The woman on the other end of the phone said, “sir, we don’t do that, but why don’t you call Seattle City Light and see if you can do the same for families that are about to lose their power due to delinquent power bills and want to stay warm and keep the lights on for the holidays?”

My reaction was “Yes – that’s an even better idea” so I called Seattle City Light and started the conversation over.  And the woman on the other end of the phone said, “sir, we don’t do that, but why don’t you call the non-profit organization, Centerstone, in Seattle that provides energy assistance for low income  families to see if they can help.”

So I called Centerstone, and I started the conversation over.  But this time I had found the right place.  On top of being a community food bank and community education center, Centerstone is the main place in Seattle that is focused on providing grants and assistance to help low income and elderly members of the community pay delinquent energy bills before their power gets shut off.  Centerstone has direct access to work with Seattle City Light on behalf of their clients, and they make sure that every dollar provided to their energy assistance program on behalf of their clients are absolutely necessary and have immediate impact to keep the power on.  Every winter, Centerstone works with nearly 10,000 low income families to help them keep their power and heat on, but still each year there is an unavoidable “gap” of about 300 families that still end up having their power shut off despite the attempted help from Centerstone.

Unavoidable until now.

Last year, after my call to Centerstone, I was able to work with the amazing staff at Centerstone to figure out the dollars and logistics necessary to keep 15 families from having their power shut off during the holidays.  It made my holidays to know that I could give back a bit and help out  in a direct way those most in need during the cold winter months.  But I kept thinking about the other 285 families that I didn’t help out.  So this year I asked Andrea (CEO of Centerstone) and her team what it would take to “bridge that gap” and make sure that NO FAMILY GOES WITHOUT POWER THIS HOLIDAY SEASON AND WINTER.  The answer they gave me was that $50,000 in donations would likely ensure that no Centerstone client family would have their power shut off this holiday season and winter.

So, I asked them to work with me to set up a campaign to bridge the gap – to make it easy for me, my family, my friends and my social network to chip in and raise the $50K to make sure that we keep the power on this holidays and winter for all 300 families in Seattle that otherwise will have their power shut off at some point due to lack of financial ability to keep their power bill current.

If you feel so inclined, please join me and go to this special landing page that we set up on Centerstone’s website, and click donate now, and then under the “program designation” pull down menu select “bridge the gap”.

Together we can make sure that no one falls through the gap this holiday and winter.  Thank you.

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