Dec 26 , 2012
Project Share
Households that are having trouble paying their heating bills this winter will receive help as the result of $226,000 in donations Avista and our employees made to Project Share (see news release). An additional $100,000 is going to 19 human care service organizations in eastern Washington chosen by our CAREs representatives (Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Service).
 
“We know that the economy of our service territory continues to be depressed and that it is difficult for families to make ends meet. The organizations receiving these Project Share and CARES donations are an important safety net, and they provide important assistance that helps those most in need meet the costs of housing, food and medicine, and keeping their homes warm this winter,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp.
Project Share will receive $226,000 from Avista and its employees. The program, which is administered by SNAP in eastern Washington and by community action programs in other areas of our service territory, provides emergency grants to help families meet energy costs regardless of the fuel used to heat their home. In 2011, more than 2,100 households received emergency energy assistance through Project Share. The funds for this donation come from company profits and employee donations and are not included as a cost to customers in developing rates.

“This donation is another amazing example of Avista taking the initiative to support our neighbors during difficult times,” said SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp. “We greatly value this collaborative effort that continues to be a vital benefit to our community. More homes will stay warm throughout the winter because of this.”
 
Additionally, Avista is partnering with 19 community service agencies in eastern Washington to make grants for energy assistance to qualifying Avista customers in need this winter.

Avista has contributed a total of $100,000 to the agencies for customers who have exhausted all other available energy assistance resources. The organizations were identified by Avista’s CARES representatives, who are specially trained and who work closest with our most vulnerable customers.
The funds for the CARES donations come from a state utility tax credit Avista receives that is associated with our low-income energy assistance programs.
 
Published: 12/26/2012  10:35 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Dec 17 , 2012
$28,150 donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon
 

Avista employees help distribute food at a mobile food bank last fall.
Avista employees help distribute food at a mobile food bank
last fall. .
For some residents of the Pacific Northwest, feeding their families can be one of the biggest challenges they face each month. Forty-seven food banks in Avista’s service territory will have a bit more money to stock their shelves in the months ahead as the result of grants issued by Avista Corp. and the Avista Foundation. A total of $28,150 has been donated to food banks in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon by Avista Corp. and the Avista Foundation.
 
“Community food banks are providing vital safety-net services in the communities we serve. Through their buying power and relationships with food producers, the food banks are able to leverage donations like ours to bring several times their value to help stock the shelves for those in need,” said Scott Morris, chairman, president and CEO of Avista Corp. “Helping limited income families and seniors meet their nutritional needs is an important part of our emphasis on providing assistance to reduce poverty in the communities served by Avista Utilities.”

In addition, Avista employees donated $8,000 to the Second Harvest Food Bank during “Tom’s Turkey Drive,” a Thanksgiving event sponsored by KREM television. Avista Foundation matched that amount, for a total donation to Second Harvest of $16,000.

Funding for donations, other than employee gifts, comes from foundation funds and company profits. It is not included as a cost to customers in developing retail rates.
 
Published: 12/17/2012  2:35 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Dec 10 , 2012
Avista truck in Clarkston parade
 
Post by Dan Kolbet

Avista has long been a part of Clarkston’s annual Lighted Christmas Parade and this year was no different. An Avista line truck – used by our electric crews – appeared in the parade and was adorned with many, many light strands that certainly made for a festive feeling.

Several employees’ children or grandchildren volunteered to hand out candy along the route alongside the truck. Special thanks to the kids: Anna Duman, Eli Duman, Cam Knight and Sean Sharpes.

Happy holidays!
Published: 12/10/2012  11:19 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Dec 04 , 2012
http flag video
 
Avista a big supporter of veterans and military families
 
Post by Brandi Smith
Video by Dan Kolbet 
 
Pride and patriotism were flowing on Friday, Nov. 30 when more than 50 Avista employees gathered to dedicate a new flagpole located near the front entrance of the Clarkston construction office. The Lewis Clark Valley Veterans Council was at the event to perform an official flag-raising ceremony. 

Avista employee Gene Dickenson being presented with folded flag in honor of his uncle who served in WWII.
Gene Dickenson being presented with folded flag
in honor of his uncle who served in WWII.
Two flag raisings took place. The first flag rose in honor of Line Foreman, Gene Dickenson’s uncle, who served in World War II. Dickenson’s uncle, Dan Marshall, served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1945. Marshall’s flag was raised to the top of the pole and then lowered to half staff while The Star-Spangled Banner was sung by guest, Sandy Riggers of Craigmont, Idaho. Dickenson was later presented with his uncle’s flag – something his family wanted him to have.

The second flag raised was a new permanent flag, that will fly proudly on the new flagpole. Major Kay Kalbfleish, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Retired helped conduct the ceremony.

Clarkston Operations Manager, Glenn Logsdon spoke about the significance of this event saying, “this is one of the proudest moments of my career at Avista. I have always wanted to do something to honor our veterans. Today is a great day to thank and honor those who have served our country.”

Avista Corp. President, Chairman and CEO, Scott Morris also noted how proud he was of his co-workers who have served in the military and marveled at the strength of their families. Currently Avista has approximately 112 self-declared veterans of military service, about 7 percent of our workforce. As the number of veterans returning home from service increases, Avista is actively working with local organizations to identify opportunities to support veterans-to-work initiatives.
 
Published: 12/4/2012  3:19 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 16 , 2012

The big check photo! Gobble! Gobble!

 

It was a short event, but long on good feelings. Avista hosted three distinguished visitors on Nov. 15 and an enthusiastic group of employees was there to join in the fun.

Salvation Army Award
Captain Kyle Smith of the Salvation Army presents
the “Making Spokane Better” award to Avista and our
employees. This is the highest award the non-profit
organization bestows on a business.
Tom Sherry, local TV weatherman and head cheerleader for the KREM 2 Tom’s Turkey Drive, made his annual visit to Avista to receive the “big check” donation in support of the effort to provide 11,000 holiday meals to those in need in our community. Avista Vice President of Customer Solutions Jason Thackston presented Tom with a check for $16,000 -- $8,000 in donations from Avista employees matched by the Avista Foundation. That will equate to 800 meals that will feed more than 3,000 people on Thanksgiving.

Captain Kyle Smith and Stan Parrish from the Salvation Army also were on hand to present the “Making Spokane Better” award to Avista and our employees. This is the highest award the non-profit organization bestows on a business. The award recognizes the Avista Foundation’s grants for programs like the Salvation Army’s Spokane Nurturing Center, the Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center and the Lewiston Community Center. Of special note in the award, the Salvation Army called out the exemplary volunteerism of Avista Utilities employees, including the more than 100 employees who volunteered at the Backpack Distribution/Energy Fair event this past August.

In making the presentation, Capt. Kyle said, “Even without the charity this company gives to the community, Avista and its employees make Spokane a better place to live. We greatly appreciate the leadership Avista has shown in strengthening the safety net services for those most in need in our community.”
Published: 11/16/2012  11:50 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Oct 09 , 2012
Post by Dan Kolbet

Meet some nice folks at the Energy Fair!
Area residents will learn about energy efficiency, managing their home energy bills and more at the free Avista Energy Fair 2012. It will be held in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday, October 10 from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Harding Family Center, 411 North 15th Street.

Avista employees and community service providers will be on hand to answer questions about the following:

-Energy Efficiency – See low-cost and no-cost efficiency demonstrations for solutions like rope caulking, door sweeps and window plastic. Free samples will be handed out.

-Bill Assistance – Avista customer service representatives can answer billing questions, provide information about payment options and refer  to energy assistance programs. You can also learn how to use Avista's free online Bill Analyzer.

-Community Assistance – Avista and community service providers will be on hand to answer questions about energy assistance, weatherization and other topics.

-Kids Meet Wattson – Stop by and see Wattson the Energy Watchdog! Kids activities include crafts, dancing and interactive games.

Parking is free and there will be complimentary food and beverages, door prizes and activities for the kids at most locations. Avista will make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations that are requested for individuals with disabilities. Please contact the Community Development Consumer Affairs Office at (509) 495-8024 or email lisa.lee@avistacorp.com if accommodations are needed.
 
Published: 10/9/2012  4:21 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 13 , 2012
United Way
 
Post by Brandi Smith

Today, the Avista employee United Way fundraising campaign in Spokane County began with a Day of Caring event at the West Central Community Center. More than 40 employees generously volunteered their time to hand out food to members of our community at mobile food bank hosted by Second Harvest – a United Way donation recipient.

In Spokane County it is estimated that nearly 14 percent of people are living under the poverty level. Organizations like the United Way contribute by helping children gain the skills they need to succeed in school and life, helping families and individuals become financially stable and independent, and helping people achieve physical, mental and emotional health.

Our employees have given generously to United Way. Last year employees gave $216,000 and our goal this year is to raise the bar and give $260,000.
 
Published: 9/13/2012  4:30 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 13 , 2012
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
Avista's Jen and Cindy at a local veterans event.
Jen Boettcher and Cindy Rogers, from Avista’s Human Resources department attended the second annual “Welcome Home Event” for area veterans and transitioning military members on past this Wednesday at Spokane Community College. The event was organized by VA Medical Center staff and had over 60 employers and vets service organizations registered.

Spokane Mayor David Condon opened the event and wounded warrior Chris Carver gave an inspiring speech on the obstacles he has overcome after an IED explosion in Iraq nearly took his life. The job fair was attended by 75 Spokane-area hometown heroes.

Is there is hometown hero in your life?
 
Avista will also be hosting an event for veterans at Gonzaga University in October. We'll post information about that event when it becomes available.
Published: 9/13/2012  3:48 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 04 , 2012
A week-long search finally uncovers who the Good Samaritan employee actually was
 
Post by Dan Kolbet

Trevor Butler
Journeyman Gas Serviceman Trevor Butler made a
big impact on a family after helping an elderly
woman who had fallen near her home in North
Spokane.
With hundreds of employees working every hour of every day throughout our 3-state service territory, our employees see a lot in the field. They see car accidents and help injured motorists. They see lost children and help return them home. They administer first aid. It’s just the right thing to do.

When an Avista employee sees someone who needs help, they offer it without question. Sometimes they go about their good deeds so quickly that the recipient doesn’t get a chance to learn the employee’s name, which is exactly what happened last week in Spokane. 

Andie Davis of Deer Park sent us a message on Facebook about an Avista employee who helped her mom Connie Davis. The trouble was, we couldn’t immediately figure out who the employee was. Here’s what she wrote:

“I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you a little story about a gentleman who works for Avista in the Spokane area, but I first need to give you a little background.

My mom is a cancer patient, with stage 4 cancer. It's a very aggressive variety of cancer; she will be on chemo the rest of her life. With that she has had complications with the chemo, and it has affected her ability to do just about anything. Her balance, dexterity, energy, mobility, breathing and memory have all been affected. The purpose for me sharing this is this, because many of these issues came into play yesterday.

My mom was watering her flowers, while using her walker on her front porch. One of your Avista trucks happened to be parked nearby, while the driver was tending to his paperwork. My mom fell, (her walker rolled down the ramp and got away from her) and couldn't get back up. After a couple attempts trying to get up, your driver had made it to her house and helped her recover her walker and back into her house. LUCKILY her worst injury was a scuff to her knee and bruised pride. She maintained good humor as they both joked about "I've fallen and can't get up" BUT if your employee hadn't helped her, who knows how long she would've been stuck outside in the 90+ degree weather before anyone would've noticed her. She didn't get his name or I'd try to thank him personally. It's nice to know that there are still kind people out there who will help those who cannot help themselves. I wish I could tell this man thank you myself, though I know it's not very likely we will ever find out who he was. . . . This guy deserves an extra day off, a hug and some ice cream! Not only did he help someone in need, he made your company look good, and those are the guys your company needs in the age of distrust for large corporations. THANK YOU for hiring this man, so he could be where someone really needed his help.”

I immediately forwarded Andie’s message to several Avista managers to try and figure out who this terrific employee was. No luck after days. Although I did hear additional stories about helping out young kids and even helping another woman in a similar situation get to her feet. It showed me, more than anything, that these types of good deeds happen all the time and we simply don’t talk about them. I know a lot of my co-workers shy away from the spotlight and aren’t looking for a pat on the back, but in this case, it was deserved and everyone who read Andie’s note really wanted to find this guy.

After about a week of searching I got a call from a manager in our natural gas area who said he found our hero. It was Journeyman Gas Serviceman Trevor Butler. A couple of his co-workers came forward to say who did the good deed. He didn’t even want to come forward himself.

When told of the thank you he received, ever-so-humble Trevor just said it was the right thing to do. No less. No more.

There’s a lot more to being an employee of Avista than just punching the clock, we have a responsibility for our neighbors too. I’m certainly proud to work here with people like Trevor, who make the communities we serve better by just doing the right thing. 

To Trevor, I think Andie said it best, but once again, thank you for what you did to help Connie. You’ve made your co-workers very proud. 
Published: 9/4/2012  10:25 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Aug 28 , 2012
pix
 

Avista was truly “Human Powered” last week thanks to more than 120 employees who generously volunteered their time for the Salvation Army Backpack for Kids giveaway or helped us organize, set up and staff the Avista Energy Fair 2012 at the event. In the lead-up to the big day, employees donated more than $1,700, which was matched by a $500 contribution from Avista. Three bins of school supplies were also donated by our generous co-workers in Spokane.

The event began at 8 a.m. with a line that stretched around a city block. When the last backpack was given out at 6:30 p.m., more than 1,500 families had received a total of 3,614 backpacks, many of which were proudly worn by their new owners. For the 137 kids who were placed on a waiting list when the backpacks ran out, their wait for school supplies won’t last long. Avista has donated an additional $2,000 to the Salvation Army to purchase the packs and the learning tools that go inside.

The day and what it meant to our employees is best summed up in their own words:

“What an important service to the families and children who so desperately need support – and the joy that it brought the children to have a new, beautiful backpack of their very own!  We were so grateful to be able to share the opportunity for our employees to volunteer and see firsthand the important work that you (Salvation Army) do in our community for the same families who are also our customers.”
-Anne Marie Axworthy, Director of Consumer Affairs

“Having only been employed with Avista for about two months, it hasn’t taken long to find out that Avista truly lives out its commitment to give back to the communities it serves. This commitment was displayed early in the process through communication at both the corporate and departmental levels encouraging employees to participate, and by providing the work schedule flexibility to allow me to be able to volunteer.  However, what really cemented Avista’s commitment for me, was when I did a double take when I realized Scott Morris was driving the shuttle van I was riding to the event. It was amazing to me the number of parents that expressed their gratitude for our participation in helping to get their children something as simple as a backpack for school.”  
-Bob Brandkamp, Risk Management Analyst

“It’s eye-opening anytime I do community service with low income people. I registered people as they came in, and I had to ask what their monthly income was. The answers were astounding, how little people live on in our community. These are people with kids my kids’ ages. I feel fortunate to be in the position I'm in. It’s great that Avista partners with organizations like the Salvation Army.
-Lamont Miles, Design Integration Manager

“It was very nice for Avista to put the opportunity out there for us to volunteer. It’s hard for my wife and I to know where to volunteer and this gave us a way to help in the community.”
-Brian Hosig, Residential Meterman

“I saw a lot of people with pride and dignity; people who appreciated what was given to them. They were surprised we had an Avista goody bag. I'm glad I did it. It meant a lot to me.”
-Roxanne Williams, Energy Efficiency Program Rep.

“I volunteered with my son, Patrick. I thought it was good for him to see the need out there. He's pretty sheltered with dinner at home every night and the school supplies we purchase for him. It was good for him to see the other side of the coin -- how much need there is.  It was startling to see what some people are surviving on every month with several children. It’s Important to go to school that first day and start off on the right foot. How devastating it would be for kids to go to school without school supplies.”
-Debbie Deubel, Construction Standards Technician

And finally from Capt. Kyle Smith, Spokane Corps Officer, The Salvation Army Spokane Regional Services:

“Having such a wonderful group of volunteers from Avista was extremely helpful.  Your employees’ big smiles and willingness to jump in wherever needed made the difference. One of my favorite words is "synergy."  Yesterday I think we experienced synergy in action.  We all achieved far more working together than we could have done apart. Thanks again for being good neighbors.”
 
 
Published: 8/28/2012  11:16 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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