Two WGL employees seal a drafty window as part of WGL's annual Day of Weatherization.

WGL and Washington Gas are connected to more than a million homes, offices, schools and other buildings in the Washington, D.C. area and surrounding states through a series of pipelines. But we are also connected to the region through our 1,500-plus employees. Our corporate philanthropy and employee volunteerism efforts align with our strategic business to support strong and healthy communities, in which WGL can continue to expand our services.

We have chosen to focus our philanthropy efforts on organizations and initiatives related to three specific areas—health, education and the environment. Last year, the company contributed more than $1.2 million in donations and in-kind support, and logged more than 12,000 volunteer hours with more than 600 employees actively volunteering.

Some of our programs combine all three of our focus areas, working to educate the public on ways to improve public health and the environment by reducing air pollution. For example, we work with Clean Air Partners, a public-private partnership of the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, to provide a wide range of resources, from daily alerts forecasting air quality information to air quality curriculums for regional schools.

WGL has co-sponsored two recent Breathe Easy call-to-action concerts by Clean Air Partners, encouraging people to share their sustainability actions for clean air. Participants who submitted an idea were automatically entered into a contest to win tickets to concerts that featured Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, and Earth, Wind & Fire and Chicago, respectively.  These programs raised region-wide awareness of practices that improve air quality, through considerable local media and social media engagement.

Another educational program includes our partnership with the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital. Each year, we sponsor the WGL Air Quality Environmental Learning Patch Program that integrates experiential STEM lessons to teach girls in grades K-8 to use energy efficiently. Since 2007, more than 16,500 girls in the Washington, D.C., area have each spent five hours earning air quality environmental patches during summer camps.

Our signature philanthropic program is the Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF). WAFF provides heating assistance to low-income energy consumers no matter what type of fuel they use to heat their home. Washington Gas pays WAFF’s administrative fees while The Salvation Army administers the fund, so that 100 percent of all donations go directly to families in need.

WAFF was founded in 1983 and has distributed more than $25 million, helping more than 280,000 area residents. Last year, WAFF disbursed approximately $765,000, contributed by our employees and customers, which helped more than 6,100 area residents stay warm. As part of this strategic community partnership, Washington Gas continues to develop ways to increase WAFF’s ability to help low-income customers.

In addition to our fundraising and media activities, the number of employees who engage with the community through WGL’s Community Service Team is growing each year. This growth includes dozens of employees who have chosen to become program leaders, working directly with charitable organizations to coordinate and staff these events.

Each year, WGL employees donate about $150,000 to support local area non-profit organizations through our annual employee giving campaign. WAFF remains the most frequently selected charity, with 131 employee donors contributing nearly $38,000 this year.

One of our most popular volunteer programs is the annual Day of Weatherization, where WGL employees, friends and family members weatherize the homes of low-income and elderly residents, also providing energy efficiency tips that can increase comfort and lower heating bills. Last year, 105 homes were weatherized by more than 200 volunteers and, for the second year in a row, the program installed solar panels across the District of Columbia. In partnership with GRID Alternatives, a national non-profit, volunteers helped to install panels on one of nine buildings at the Park Chester Apartment complex, located in D.C.’s Ward 8.  Energy savings from the solar installation are being used to help provide energy efficient appliances for residents living in all 94 units in the building.

Our corporate philanthropy also extends to the health sector, where WGL has recently reached a momentous milestone. WGL is the first corporate sponsor in the region to surpass $1 million in total contributions to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Employees, friends and families raised a record $211,000 for LLS’s Light The Night Walk campaign that supports blood cancer research and education. Our company’s total donation came from a combination of efforts, including—a corporate golf tournament that raised $124,000; employee fundraising that garnered $72,000; and corporate funding of $15,000.

Supporting our communities is at the heart of what makes WGL the company it is – it is central to what has kept us in business for almost 170 years.  We are looking forward to further improving the health, education and environment of our communities and to deepening our connection to the Washington, D.C. area.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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