Funding Continues Through Pandemic

November 23, 2020

With many annual fundraising events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofit organizations and community initiatives have greatly suffered. As we move into the colder weather months, many areas are seeing increases in COVID-19 cases – which means even more need in our communities.

Through these tough times, the FirstEnergy Foundation continues to provide major support to initiatives in the communities we serve.

“The pandemic has required an urgent and strategic response from the philanthropic community,” said Lorna Wisham, vice president, Corporate Affairs & Community Involvement, and president of the FirstEnergy Foundation. “In addition to food banks and human services organizations, we realize that other initiatives have suffered as well. The FirstEnergy Foundation is willing to step in and help in any way it can.”

For example, when the pandemic first hit, the Foundation donated $500,000 to 42 local food banks and hunger centers throughout our service territory to help provide essential nutrition to those who need it the most during this time. In addition, the Foundation contributed approximately $1.5 million in matching contributions to 116 United Way agencies. With the help of matched contributions from the FirstEnergy Foundation, employees and contractors from our Veterans & Allies Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG) raised $42,500 for American Veterans (AMVETS) through an August event at Legends of Massillon golf course.

“Veterans & Allies chose AMVETS because it is nationally recognized as being a supporter of  veterans and because it’s able to serve our entire footprint,” said Sam Belcher, senior vice president and president of FirstEnergy Utilities, and executive sponsor of the Veterans & Allies EBRG. “AMVETS is in the elite group of organizations helping better the lives of veterans.”

The donation helps fill AMVETS’ pantries with food, personal care items and more for veterans in need within FirstEnergy’s service territory. All money raised will remain within our communities.

Answering the Need in New Jersey

Carol Bianchi, Consultant, Regional External Affairs, delivered $6,250 FirstEnergy Foundation check to the Food Bank Network of Somerset County. Carol (back row, l.) is next to Craig Ferrante, warehouse manager, along with other food bank workers.

Following tropical storm Isaias, JCP&L donated more than 83,000 pounds of items to 10 food banks and religious organizations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The items had been purchased to feed thousands of utility workers who assisted in restoring service to approximately 800,000 customers after the storm severely impacted the region. JCP&L’s donation was supplemented by an additional FirstEnergy Foundation contribution of $50,000 to benefit food banks in the region. The donation provided approximately 100,000 meals for families in need. Combined with the FirstEnergy Foundation contribution, area food banks received more than $120,000 in local community support.

Also, the Foundation granted $27,000 to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to benefit a conservation project at Chagrin River Landing in Eastlake, Ohio. Upon com​pletion, the 10-acre property and former marina located on Lake Shore Boulevard will be used as a public access park for handicap accessible fishing, canoeing and kayaking to the Chagrin River and Lake Erie. The Foundation’s grant is the last piece in a campaign to raise funds which will help the Land Conservancy meet the project’s total goal of $386,000.

“We are proud to support the Land Conservancy’s effort to restore this area into a beautiful and functional space for the community,” said Lorna. “In addition to providing new recreational opportunities for area residents and visitors, the park aligns with the electric industry’s goal of creating habitats that promote pollinators and support the environment.”