Good Neighbors

Business Owner Pays Off Utility Bills For Families In His Community

He was motivated to give back after he was in a similar situation in the past.


Michael Esmond knows what it's like to struggle to make ends meet. That's why the business owner and veteran is giving back to his community in Gulf Breeze, FL by paying off past due utility bills for people in his community.

While Esmond is now the owner of a successful pool and spa company near Pensacola, FL, he remembers a time in the 1980's when he faced a similar situation around the holidays.

"I actually lived that back in the 1980s," he told CNN . "I experienced the same thing, having trouble paying bills. My gas was shut off, and we had no heating for the whole winter."

Families that had their bills paid by Esmond got a sweet holiday card in the mail...

While you might not think that Florida gets that cold in the winter, Esmond says when he was forced to go without heat the temperatures reached well below freezing.

"It was one of the coldest winters in Florida; temperature got down to the single digits," Esmond continued. "That was definitely on my mind when I received the bill this year."

That's why he decided to spend $4,600 to make sure his neighbors could enjoy the holidays without worrying about their heat or water getting shut off. So, thanks to Esmond, instead of getting a warning in the mail from the utility company, 36 families in the Gulf Breeze community received a holiday card with the following greeting:

"It is our honor and privilege to inform you that your past due utility bill has been paid by Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas. You can rest easier this holiday season knowing you have one less bill to pay. On behalf of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas we here at the City of Gulf Breeze would like to wish you and your family a happy holiday season."

Along with giving families some much-needed financial relief this holiday season, he hopes his kind act will inspire others to do the same.

"I was hoping I could set a standard for companies about the size of mine, you know we're not a huge company, but we can still do something and give something back," he said.

When asked if he plans to do the same thing next year, Esmond said he'll definitely be giving back again, although he has something different in mind.

"People ask me, 'are you gonna do this again next year?' and my answer is, if I told everybody I was gonna do it next year, nobody would pay their bills!" he said. "So I'll figure out something for next year. It won't be this, but I'll figure out something."

Inspired by Esmond's incredible act of kindness? You may not be able to pay off an entire community's utility bills, but you can donate to an organization that provides utility assistance to families in need, like the Salvation Army's HeatShare program or Modest Needs .

Or, there may be an organization in your hometown that you can contribute to. Doing a Google search for "organizations in [your city] that help pay utility bills" is a good place to start.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

(Source: images @DanielleApoNews )

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