S.E. Williams | Contributor
The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is continuing to demonstrate how it values people in the communities it serves as more than just customers. In recent weeks it has funded a slate of programs designed to help residents through these difficult times.
Following is a summary of some of the company’s most recent community-focused initiatives.
Fueling Our Communities
With this program SoCalGas has partnered with five regional charity organizations to provide free meals to individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Riverside and San Bernardino Counties this program is partnering with the Family Service Association (FSA).
The company has committed $500,000 to provide close to 140,000 meals to 40,000 individuals from underserved communities in Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, Tulare, Kern, and Ventura counties. The program will span the summer season in 44 cities and is providing food to seniors, students, families, and migrant farm workers while stimulating local small businesses.
“Through the ‘Fueling Our Communities’ initiative, SoCalGas hopes to help fill an essential need by providing meals while helping local businesses as well,” said Andy Carrasco, vice president of strategy and engagement, and chief environmental officer at SoCalGas.
He added, “We are thankful for all the amazing organizations and community leaders who have stepped up and joined us to give back to those who need it the most.”
Speaking on behalf of FSA, Shannon Gonzalez, the agency’s chief program director said, “We’re thrilled to partner with SoCalGas this Summer to provide nutritious meals to the senior population in the Inland Empire. This program will provide meals to seniors in 24 cities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties– many which are in rural and underserved areas.”
“In addition to distributing meals to senior residents weekly with our city partners, FSA will also purchase gift certificates from local restaurants which will allow recipients to visit their favorite food spots and contribute to the local economy.”
Partnership to Feed Healthcare Workers in the Inland Region
In mid-June SoCalGas and the Latino Restaurant Association Partnered to provide 1,500 meals to Healthcare Workers in Riverside and San Bernardino County.
The partnership hosted two events last month, one for workers associated with the Riverside Community Hospital and another for healthcare workers at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Foundation.
“These are unprecedented times for our community and as we work to reduce the impact of this pandemic, we thank SoCalGas and LRA for their generosity,” said Jackie DeSouza-Van Blaricum, president, and CEO at Riverside Community Hospital.
David Glick, executive director at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Foundation also expressed appreciation on behalf of his team. “This is another great example of how our communities are stepping up in incredible ways to support the brave women and men on the front lines of this pandemic,” he said.
Members from the Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) also supported the event, distributing meals provided by local Latino-owned restaurants.
“We’re proud to partner with LRA (Latino Restaurant Association) and FLAG in recognizing and supporting Riverside frontline workers and local restaurants who have been hardest hit during this pandemic,” said Lea Petersen, public affairs manager at SoCalGas.
Meals for both events were prepared by LRA member restaurant chain, Miguel’s Jr. Also, SoCalGas’ grant to the Feed Frontliners Program helped fund the purchases of the meals, which will support the restaurant whose business has been impacted by the pandemic.
Providing Hygiene Items to Families in Need
In recent weeks SoCalGas employees led a drive to supply hygiene items to local families in need through the Children’s Fund of San Bernardino County. The “contactless” donation drive-up event not only collected much needed hygiene items, it also received donations of infant care items as well as gift cards for children and their families.
The organization will subsequently be distributed to agencies and nonprofits that serve children experiencing poverty, abuse, and neglect.
“The timing couldn’t be better for this donation drive,” said Dr. Ciriaco “Cid” Pinedo, president and CEO of Children’s Fund. “These are critical times when people have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, and they need assistance meeting basic needs like hygiene items and baby necessities. In a county where one in four children live in poverty, this support is needed now more than ever.”
Last year, the Children’s Fund served over 66,000 children. The organization distributed nearly 3,000 new clothing and hygiene products, donated over 43,000 holiday gifts, and gave over 2,700 children new beds and bedding thanks in part to community partners like SoCalGas.
“As we navigate through this pandemic, it is important that we come together to help the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Trisha Muse, director of community relations at SoCalGas.
Stephanie E. Williams is managing editor with the IE Voice and Black Voice News.