Hi, I’m John Sims, President of ENSTAR Natural Gas Company and this year’s United Way of Anchorage Community Campaign Chair. For decades, ENSTAR has worked closely with United Way, and for the last 16 years I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of that work.
Keeping our customers safe and warm is at the heart of everything we do at ENSTAR. So, over the last year and a half, we’ve partnered with non-profit agencies like United Way, in addition to state and local governments, and generous customers wanting to help out their neighbors who continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. But for many in our community, recovery is something that hasn’t been experienced at all.
As business professionals, we feel a sense of normalcy returning as we slowly come back to our offices. As community members, we see people getting back to their normal activities—businesses and streets are bustling compared to when we were in lockdown. But this return to normalcy is not universal – especially for those who have lost a loved one to COVID. And we are quickly seeing that sense of normalcy fade due to the Delta variant and the rise of new COVID cases across the state.
Over 12,300 jobs were lost last year, and at ENSTAR, we are seeing more and more customers fall behind with their bills. We’ve made it a priority to work with our customers and neighbors to continue to heat their homes as they put the pieces back together during a pandemic. Supporting the folks around us who are struggling with this process is something we can all make a priority.
A prime example of this was the Warm Hearts Warm Homes fund that was born from an anonymous donor and ENSTAR customer in the Kenai Peninsula who put up a $10,000 matching gift to help struggling families. We worked with United Way to prop up the fund, and the ripple effect was amazing to see. That’s what the work is about—it’s about neighbors helping neighbors, and all of us, no matter who we are, can pitch in.
I personally know a few of people who have tragically lost their lives to COVID. And I have seen their families’ grief first-hand. There are so many little things we can do to make life more manageable for those who are hurting. And when we work together, these small deeds make a widespread impact.
As Alaskans, we are at our best when we unite to support folks around us in need. Everyday people in our community are faced with life-changing events that have only been worsened by the pandemic. But whether it’s a loss of life, a loss of livelihood, or a loss of health, we can and should come together to help alleviate the burdens our neighbors are bearing.
That’s why I’m honored to chair this year’s community campaign.
I’m inspired by the resilience of our community and our community members who have faced incredible challenges over the past 18 months. We’ve come a long way toward recovery, but we must work together and look out for one another as COVID continues to ripple through our homes and businesses.
United Way and its partners are working tirelessly to ensure your generous gifts of time, talent, and resources are at the frontlines, supporting families and individuals during an incredibly challenging time in our State’s history. This is why your support matters so much: You’re leaders in your workplaces, associations, and in our community. When you lead with your donations, you ignite the multiplier effect for good, ease pain, raise hope and provide the means to help people who may feel forgotten and overlooked to see a bit of light on the horizon.
None of us can do this alone. But together, there’s nothing we can’t do. So, the theme of this year’s campaign is Unite to Thrive. That’s right, thrive. Our goal is to weather the pandemic and, in the process, make a better Anchorage, so that when we look in the rear-view mirror, we’ll have more than a sense of relief. We’ll have a sense of achievement, and a tighter-knit community.
Please join us and thank you.